Tuesday, September 18, 2012

cooking, canning, and catastrophe...

First, the good, well almost good news. We found out why most of the birds haven't been visiting. The answer is in the picture below. A sparrow hawk has been visiting (and eating) lately. Also if you look closely on the ground below the humming bird feeder, you'll see our first squirrel. He has been eating some dried corn from our garden. So is that good news? 

We also have been trying our hand at canning and pickling. (Here I hope that my mother and mother-in-law will stop reading, and just look at pictures, and read something else. I am not writing this as a complaint or correction to they way they raised my wife and I. It is an observation and opinion which will probably change soon. Maybe it might give good mothers (like my mother and mother and law) some hope as they struggle to train their wayward children)
*so back to the canning and pickling*
My wife and I have never canned or pickled even the smallest cucumber so this is lots of fun and learning. I know that if my mom had tried to show me I would have found some way of making her wish she didn't, but now I look back on my wasted childhood and wish I knew that if you don't heat the lids or pressure cook the cans, the little bubble always stays up. Or that if you use the easier recipe, it may not turn out. Well, no crying over spilt milk (or even spilt pickling brine). Our first endeavor was Tomato Jam. This was one disaster after another. The recipe was rather on the unspecific side, probably expecting most people to know that you should add this or that and make sure you do this or that. However, since I am not most people I omitted this and that and didn't do that one thing so it turned out to be mirky tomato juice with the lid that goes click click everytime you push it. I still have unshed tears in my eyes over this debacle.
Learning from my mistakes and the extremely late night, I started earlier and with tried, true and very clear recipe for pickled summer squash. My wife took on fig jam. (we purchased figs from Costco. Fig jam goes well with cheese and wine) This went much better. I haven't tasted it yet, but after the week of waiting subsides, we'll crack open the goodies and try it out (mostly likely to wonder what new mistakes we've made)
So, I don't know if we've had more fun because we are the kind of people who they write "dummies" book for and don't know canning salt from table salt so that parents should let their kids learn by mistakes.... or if we should teach our kids to cook and can and pickle so that when they are older, they don't write blog posts on how their parents never taught them......

the mess grows...

summer squash awaiting the briny bath

fig jam!

yes, all of the lids are tight and don't click... now what does it taste like?


  1. Can I say 'no comment' for my comment? Just kidding. I never actually canned food, or used a pressure cooker. Too complicated for me, and too much mess. My advice is this: As long as you find it fun, go ahead. But if the messes from it all threaten the peaceful tranquility of the marriage, chuck it, and give your wife her kitchen back. Ha ha ha.

  2. PS We saw one of those hawks stalking are bird feeders the other day.

  3. Great job canning! That's a hard job. A while ago I saw an article in the highbrow 'Garden Design' magazine about a designer-type woman who canned her home-grown chickpeas. Apparently canning is trendy right now. So funny, my mom canned when I was growing up because it saved money and we were on a tight food budget. But now she and you are very fashionable, apparently. Enjoy your coolness!

    1. Being as we spent lots of money on raised beds, dirt, gravel, seeds, a pressure cooker, canning jars, lids and salt - i don't know that we are saving any money yet, but I'm hoping this will last us 10-20 years and then all the savings will be pouring in! or not... at least if fashionable though. ;)

  4. canning must be in the air... I found elderberries in the woods and made jam from them... turned out delicious...my first attempt ever canning... I'm impressed you two can find time to do it.....
    Melissa s