Archive for the 'canning' Category

Pink Grapefruit, Naval Orange, Meyer Lemon

I just got back from Epic Lady Vacation in Puerto Rico. We stayed on the beach in San Juan for the first few days, because, as Naomi said, “we’re not here to prove how bohemian we are.” Instead, I said, we went to prove that we have nice shoulders, that we love swimming in the ocean, and that we tan up nicely. In July, lying on the beach at Fort Tilden or Jacob Riis, I pointed out how good we are at enjoying the sun and ocean and declared that we should plan to do this when it’s cold in New York. So we planned for Puerto Rico in January, and then all of a sudden exams were over and we were taking off our flip flops and beach dresses and plunging into the Atlantic.

Puerto Rico, Jan 2012
(Naomi and Naomi, walking in Vieques)

The thing about vacation — at least for me — is that time spent not doing certain things reminds me that I love them. And vacation is not really a time for making. I knit a little bit of sock when we were hanging out in our little traveller’s apartment one night, and I made us a salad when we realized that beer wasn’t really dinner, but vacation is not time for cooking or crafting. So it was nice to come home and trudge through the snow to the coop to buy oranges and meyer lemons and grapefruit for Three Citrus Marmalade . I zested, cut away the pith, supreme the segments, and boiled it all up with sugar. It took longer than I expected for the pot to hit 220 degrees, and even so I’m not sure that it really set, but I have 6 beautiful translucent jars of sweet and tart citrus deliciousness.

Hipster Domesticity in the WaPo

domesticity27So here is an article about hipster domesticity–the rise in canning and knitting and backyard chickenkeeping by young, city-dwelling ladies. It’s not that interesting an article or discussion (asking the question of whether this is empowerment or a rolling back of feminism isn’t a very sophisticated analysis), but it does have a great illustration by Julia Rothman who is one of my favourites.

One thing the article mentions is a bunch of new books, including the new Bust DIY Guide to Life, most of which I find pretty bothersome, in that they are all really entry-level. I don’t need multiple books that are about cooking and crafting and cleaning and fixing stuff; at this point in my “career” I want more substantial books on the parts that I’m actually interested in. The internet is full of lots of intro and beginner stuff, what’s really hard is figuring out how to learn and advance, such as how to go from following canning recipes to understanding the science enough to make your own recipes and can things safely. If the world keeps pumping out these overly generalist books trying to capitalize on a trend, it belies the fact that it is a trend, and that you’re not expected to take it seriously, it’s just for dabbling.

I was, however, pleased that the article mentions the competitive aspect of some of these domesticity project (especially the ones with beautiful blogs). The WaPo says:

You could say these women are simply homemakers searching for a purpose beyond driving carpool. As work-life balance scholar Joan Williams tells me, extreme domesticity can be a refuge for educated women who’ve left the workforce: “You’ve been trained your entire life in a high-pressure, high-achievement atmosphere, and you need somewhere to put that,” she says. “So you turn your household into an arena for dazzling performance.”

I would have taken that sentiment in a different direction though, because I think the over-perfect aspect of some of these blogs (eg. the DIY projects in something like DesignSponge) is gross and annoying. Those of us who love canning and cooking and sewing and knitting and gardening do it because we love it, not because it makes for a perfect blog post to show off on to the internet design and lifestyle hubs. Things are canned to be eaten, not to be beautifully labeled and photographed (though those things are fun); tomatoes are grown and eaten because they are delicious, not because I’m showing off just how committed I am to overthrowing the industrial agro-food system (that change doesn’t come from the garden, I promise you). What I think is needed in this realm is more discussion of failures, mistakes, misconstrued goals and oh-yeah-that-will-make-do solutions. Because that’s how it really works, at least in my kitchen and on my needles.

UPDATE: I want to mention a few sites that really speak to my sensibilities about all this. Food in Jars is my very favourite canning blog, Punk Domestics understands the rough-around-the-edges approach (and has great stuff), You Grow Girl takes on gardening in small and odd spaces and learns from mistakes, and the Smitten Kitchen does magical things in a tiny kitchen. Oh, and of course, my friend Kat has thrifty fun in threadbare times.

Copious Cans of Curried Cauliflower

curried caulifour

I worked a Saturday night shift at the co-op, ringing up fun Saturday night groceries (lots of pints of ice cream, and ice cream sandwiches!), and got home at 11. I had bought 2 small heads of cauliflower to put up using the Curried Cauliflower recipe in Put ‘Em Up, and I decided just to go for it. I have a mixed CD from my friend and former roommate Holland called “late night baking” (the cover features a receipt for flour, baking powder, and chocolate chips timestamped at 2:12am); I suppose I could make a complementary version called “late night canning.”

And then I used a bicycle stamp to make the labels. Yay!

Also, gearing up for Thanksgiving, I made a batch of Cranberry Walnut Orange Mint Relish, from Karen Solomon’s Can It Bottle It Smoke It–a book I won from a giveaway over at Punk Domestics — one of the best canning sites there is. I am looking forward to eating this soon.

cranberry relish

jars and frustration

all labeled

This is a photo of some corn relish/salsa (a combination of 2 similar recipes, one called salsa one called relish) I made in August, which seems like a very long time ago, now. Yesterday I made some applesauce and some roasted tomatillo salsa — using 2 of what Alan says are the very last of the local heirloom tomatoes we’ll see this year. It was sort of a disappointing canning day–one of my applesauce jars broke in the canner and there was applesauce everywhere, and the yield from the ~6 pounds of apples was much less sauce than I was anticipating in the first place. And I could swear that there’s one quart of applesauce from last fall’s canning batch, but I can’t find it anywhere! Which is crazy. Canned goods don’t just up and walk away. For serious. I guess I ought to just make some more — I have a vision of rows and rows of applesauce to eat with oatmeal and make into applesauce cake all winter. Maybe I should just make a salted caramel apple pie.

It’s really important to know when to redirect your frustration!


Blogging, Grad School, Making Things

Rhubarab Jam

Oh man! When best-blogger-ever (and classmate) Rembert Browne linked to my blog this morning I was awed and flattered! So nice to be included in a roundup of grad-school bloggers, most of whom have way better and cleverer blog names than I. Rembert writes “500 Days Asunder,” and Judy’s is “Taiwanderlust.” Amazing.

Anyhow, I thought I better make good on the promises of a blog that shows off stuff that I make when I’m not doing work. And thankfully Rem’s shout-out coincided with the opening of canning season! Yesterday I transformed 2 and a quarter pounds of rhubarb into 6 half-pints of rosemary-rhubarb jam.

Rhubarab Jam

Happily, one of the jars didn’t seal, so I just dug into it, eating it with fresh ricotta on a baguette that my friend Naomi brought over. And then the other Naomi and I got on our bikes and took a tour of the old brewery buildings of North Brooklyn.

brooklyn bike beer blitz
brooklyn bike beer blitz (notice the barrels embedded in the building)
brooklyn bike beer blitz
brooklyn bike beer blitz

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd Ingredients

Lemon curd! The first canning project of 2011. As I open and eat the things on the shelf, I rue not having kept better track of what they all were and where the recipes came from, so the 2011 canning diary shall serve as a record of this year’s jars of yum. And first up: lemon curd.

The recipe is from Put ‘Em Up, page 174. I used 4 meyer lemons from the coop, one regular lemon. Zested the meyers, some of that zest went into the curd, the rest got mixed with salt as per this idea. 4 eggs from Anna & Naf’s chickens. The whole thing made 3 half-pint jars, and 3 quarter-pint jars.

It was unreasonably delicious when I licked the spatula (and the bottom of the pot), but the mixture separated a bit during canning. It’s totally fine when I stir it up before eating, and it stays together pretty well in the fridge, but I don’t think that it’s as jelled as it could be. This is either because 1) I didn’t strain it as the recipe said to do, or 2) I should have cooked it for longer. Sherri Brooks Vinton says it takes 10 minutes of whisking to thicken, other recipes on the internet say 20.

I’m going to try grapefruit for the next curd, and will probably cook it for longer.

(Photo above is not my kitchen. It’s from binah06, on flickr)