Food Network won’t be calling

This is not a food blog.  It never will be.  I am not that dedicated to remembering what I do to food and by the time I get around to writing it down, I have forgotten half of what I did. When you don’t measure ingredients, well it messes it up for anyone trying to duplicate it.  I wrote down what I did when making chili once.  It was good chili.  I can’t remember where I wrote the recipe down and wouldn’t look for it to use anyway.  Once or twice I have been asked for my salsa recipe.  I shrug and tell them I can send them the initial ingredients, but from there it’s anyone’s guess.  I start with the basics and wing it from there.

One thing I do love is canning what I make.  I can everything.  Soups, sauces, fruits, vegetables.  The only thing I never canned was meat.  I can things with meat in them, but not meat alone.  The rest is fair game.  Any conversation about food preservation follows the same format.  People describe how they freeze tomato sauce and basil/pesto, I talk about canning it.  Then they look at me like I have a few extra heads.  Why can when you can freeze?  It is so much easier to freeze!  No boiling water or pressure cooker clanking away on your stove, no jars to sterilize, no lids to buy every year.  What am I thinking?  I’ll tell you.  I’m thinking about a February afternoon when the novelty of winter has worn off, I am ready to stop watching Modified Cheerleading and Elementary basketball, I forgot to get something out to defrost for dinner, and I want sunshine and warmth.  I don’t have the energy to create one more meal.  So I walk down to my pantry shelves and pick out a few jars.  I can open them right then and use the contents.  Dinner is served!

This time of year is canning time.  It starts mid-July usually and runs through October.  I started a bit later this year because we had no rain in July and everything is late coming in. 

I did these three weeks ago.  A full bushel by myself.  They turned out great and Coach managed to survive the 6 hours it took.  He was antsy for the last half hour or so, mostly because I commandeered the TV for the afternoon.  No baseball for a whole afternoon nearly did him in.  I ended up with 24 quarts of peaches and an infected thumb from prying pits.  The salt water in Rhode Island cleared up the infection and the peaches will taste as good as they look.

Imagine having these for dinner midwinter.  It is like a taste of summer.

I just finished the pickles.  Last year I used a store mix for the pickling juice.  It had a good flavor, but seemed to pickle the cucumbers too much.  They were mushy and fell apart.  This year I went back to my recipe, which I believe was in my grandmother’s recipes.  I bought fresh dill to add and garlic because we love garlic dills.

In a few weeks these will be tangy and sharp, perfect for a burger.  I know Bread and Butter pickles are often the pickle of choice, but not for my kids.  JMumbo especially enjoys a good dill with just about any meal.

Just looking at them makes me happy.  That’s the best part of canning.  You have a tangible product at the end.  One you can gaze at while doing laundry (because that’s where my pantry is, in the laundry room), and feel accomplished looking at the shining glass jars of food you created.  Coach tends to voice doubts concerning my devotion to canning, especially when he ends up suffering through it with me because I end up with tunnel vision and forget my family expects to be presented with regular meals.  But when we open a jar of applesauce or peaches when sub-zero winds are blowing, he smiles and extolls the virtues of canning.

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