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Monday, November 18, 2019

The dangers of home canning.

Now that I have  your attention.  I will clarify that title.  The dangers of MY home canning.  Those of  you who have followed me for the last 9 years (!!!) know that I have a tendency to channel a 1930s prairie housewife with nine kids, when it comes to canning.  I have had one go at purging - pretty much chucking out (composting) anything older than 2012.  Yes, I still have canned tomatoes from 2012, but those things are like Styrofoam (not in taste and texture, hopefully), in that they last for years.
A gratuitous pic of Slimmie on his lambskin.
However, I still managed to delude myself that I could tell what the myriad of unlabeled jars contained.  That is why, on the weekend, when I was fixing my version of TexMex, I dumped a pint jar of mincemeat onto my rice and beans, instead of salsa.  I am an adventurous eater, but even I have my limits.  I scraped off as much as possible, separated the bits with rice clinging to them for the chickens who will eat almost everything, and then saved the rest of the mincemeat for breakfast.  On my granola.  It was a new taste sensation.  I will now be going through the unlabeled jars under bright lights before opening another.

Luckily, a couple of other dishes fared better - spinach/chard quiche and polenta in my Instant Pot.  Years ago, when I had just moved to the area and was on the search for friends, I met my Other Els.  She was a weaver of exceptional talent (I have one of her linen transparencies with a sheep in my kitchen window), a lovely woman and friend - and a great cook and gardener.  She gave me a little piece of lovage, which I have managed not to kill, and that now towers above everything in the herb garden.  She also was an excellent quiche-maker.  The family was vegetarian, so she was a wizard with vege.  I had forgotten - until this weekend - that she would spread a layer of Dijon mustard on the bottom of the crust, then put a layer of cheese, then the vege, then the custard.  In one bite, you got a crispy crust (cheese), tang (mustard), chew (vege), and creaminess (custard).  That's just what I did with mine and it is good!  Which is lucky, as I will be eating it all week.
Half the box of the infamous shiitakes
I came across a video on Youtube that showed how to make polenta in an instant pot - what ho!  Just what I needed - hot, creamy comfort food.  I was also dying to try my polenta grits from the Mill at Janie's Farm.  It took me about 25 minutes to produce a vat of creamy polenta with just the slightest bit of chewiness (my preferred texture).  The bonus was that the leftovers will/have become fried mush (a specialty of my dad's when we were growing up).  That is basically sliced, cold polenta, fried in a generously buttered pan until crispy on both sides, then served with maple syrup.

From the barnyard - there was an unexplained dust-up between the Blondie sisters, resulting in the bloodied head of one of the girls.  I have no idea what started it, but I saw blood on the outside of one of the nesting boxes after I had let them out - leaving me searching vainly for the wounded party.  I finally spotted her bloody head and that night, under the light of my trusty headlamp, I cleaned her up as best as I could and dabbed on some antibiotic.  She seemed just fine this morning and there hasn't been more violence.  It's always something.

It was a weekend of bits and bobs - I managed to repair the bird feeder for my railing; I got a pedicure and now sport magenta toes; I changed the filters on my Berkey; I toted trash and recycling to the transfer station; I delivered eggs to my neighbors; I found a home for the cross-country skis; I loaded two 50# bags of chicken feed into their bin (why is it that a 50# bag now feels as if it weighs twice that much?)  I restacked some hay, did a little rearranging in the living room, and managed a meager attempt at housecleaning.  I also spent a lot of time listening to an audio book that I cannot leave to just car time - so far, I have listened to three in the series by Anne Cleeves upon which the series Shetland is based.  Besides terrific writing, character development and plot lines that hold you in their grip right up to the end, it's read by a Scotsman.  Lawsymercy, I am such a sucker for the birrs and twirls of a deep Scotch voice.  If someone told me he was wearing a kilt while reading the script, I don't think I could deal with it.
These nuts were in one of the empty egg
cartons given to me by my neighbors.
There is a very unhappy squirrel somewhere.


19 comments:

  1. the whole scottish thing just gave me a hot flash. i bet he wasn't wearing anything under the kilt! your story just topped any canning story i have..too funny! i love mush but no maple syrup for me. just salt and pepper...i am a savory gal!

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    1. I may not be able to finish the book now... I am a savory/sweet gal, so it's salt, pepper AND maple syrup - but not too much. Balance is everything.

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  2. Replies
    1. Yes, he goes from his lambskin to my lap, to his self-heating bed. How he suffers...

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  3. Mercy ladies all this talk of kilts and rolling of vowels is more then this lonely widow woman can take!

    And after all the comments starting with canned goods over 7 years old to the fried corn meal mush with maple syrup (which was a huge treat ay my house while growing up shout out for all of us who had a depression era Mama or Daddy ) came close to giving me the vapors.

    Not to forget I am now positive my parents must have sold you to the wagon Gypsies at birth and we are really sisters. Can you imagine how dangerous we could be let loose together?

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    1. It sounds dangerously fun! I get most of my audio books via my library (free!) and my Libby App. I think most libraries are hooked into the app. Having gypsies for surrogate parents may explain a lot of things...

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  4. PS where do you get your audio books? I just checked out the series looks interesting. I love audio so I can emulate you and be the mother of multitasking.

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  5. I have had a very busy tiring day, I almost cried with envy seeing Slimbo on the sheepskin.

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    1. I will reserve a place next to him, should you ever want to run away from home.

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  6. Susan, you always have the most delightful posts. You never fail to make me laugh! I'll have to look for Ann Cleeves's books. They sound interesting.

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  7. We occasionally had fried mush when I was growing up. One night I was making a pot of mush, to set in a bread pad overnight in the fridge. Mom asked me to make it while I waited for my boyfriend to arrive and we go to the movies. As I stirred away at the mush, a big bubble of it came up, and plosh!, flew straight up and exploded on my forehead, between my eyes. I looked like cyclops, and the big sore hurt all evening and for a week, as I remember. Not to mention having to explain fried mush to what's his name.

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  8. Oh my I can totally relate to the canning stuff. I forgot to label some of my strawberry jams that I made right after making strawberry margarita jam. My kids always scolded me for leaving things unlabeled to the point I can't remember what I canned, lol!

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  9. I'd do the same thing if I grew as much as you! I used to make frittatas might add dijon for those! My 2 hens still aren't laying. New chicks coming in the spring, again. We're doing projects too, making syrup this weekend! Cute kitty!

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  10. You would have made one fantabulous, amazing, wonderfully inventive 1930's housewife with nine kids. And a barn full of animals. Just sayin'.

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  11. Fried mush was a great favorite of my father also. If Mom wasn't feeling well and he was doing the cooking it was often a supper dish.

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  12. more like adventures in eating! your fried mush sounds like fried grits to me.

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  13. I should come over here from Ed's blog more often. What an enjoyable post (and comments)! I don't think I've ever had polenta, but I've sure eaten (and cooked) my share of grits over the years. I haven't made any since I went plant-based (preferring mine served with lots of cheese and butter), but I bet I can remedy that with some good vegan options I have on hand.

    My public library just got Libby so I'm in heaven with a new way to read books!

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  14. That's stirred a long lost memory: mustard in a quiche. Havent thought of it for years. I will be using mustard when I make the next quiche.

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