Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peer Pressure

It really takes very little to encourage me.  The teeniest bit of attention, a quick pat on the head or a carelessly spoken "that's mildly interesting there, Sheepie" and I'm off and running.  I'm the ultimate victim of peer pressure whether it is intended or not.

A few weeks ago I did a post on making barbecue sauce and one or two people happened to think that was noteworthy.  This, of course, was enough to ensure that I will spend the next few months up to my elbows in spicy, tomato based liquids simply because I believe this behavior has been given the public seal of approval.

When I mentioned that I made too much barbecue sauce and decided to can some of it, there were further polite murmurs of appreciation.  That was all it took.  Now I must can and I must do so in a manner that is bigger and better than I have ever canned before.  I must spend my entire summer vacation canning the produce that I obtain at the local farmer's market and there is little anyone can do to stop me.  

I hit a minor stumbling block early on, though.  I am a hater of the green things and have a limited menu from which to choose when it comes to veggies.  Most of the ones I'll eat aren't acidic enough for water bath canning and I'm not so enamoured of pickles that I'm willing to spend my summer reeking of brining solution.

There was nothing else for it.  I was going to have to get a pressure canner.  The dream must not die...

Fortunately, this latest in a long series of obsessions occurred right around the time of my birthday and I just happened to find myself in possession of a check from the 'rents.  I added a few dollars of my own and dragged home a Presto 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner.  In the interest of full disclosure, this link is to one that is a little bit different than mine.  I don't have the fancy gauge on the top,  just a weight thingie that wobbles around.  But you get the idea...

After a few practice runs, I am now ready to fill my cupboards with fresh produce.  The growing season may now begin.  I, Sheepish Annie, am the Queen Of Pantry Preparedness!!!  Just look:





Corn!!!  Scraped from the cob by my very own self!!!


Now, I've been blogging long enough to be able to anticipate a few of the comments and questions that might come up now that I've given in to your powers of suggestion.  I thought I might take a minute to address them since I am nothing if not helpful when it comes to saving time and keyboarding.

Q:  A pressure canner?  Aren't you terrified of blowing yourself up and having footage of what's left of        the manse on the evening news?

A:  No Pressure cookers are very safe as long as you follow the directions.  Besides, it's not like I'm standing right over it and smacking the lid with a hammer while it's pressurized.  They very specifically tell you not to do that in the instructions.


Q:  Shouldn't you have been knitting?  Not that we aren't all thrilled to the gills every time you regale us with one of your new gadgets, but I thought this was a knitting blog.  It says so right in the title somewhere.

A:  Yesterday was bread baking day.  I knit between risings.  I had plenty of time to can corn today.  But I appreciate how you still think of this as a knitting blog.  


Q:  Wasn't it hard to can corn while you had an Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty sitting on your feet and trying to catch the tie to your sweat pants?

A:  Yes.  Yes, it was.


Q:  That is only two pints.  I remember my dear old granny putting up five hundred pounds of vegetables every Sunday when I was growing up.  Did you really mean to only do two pints?

A:  Yup.  Small batch canning is actually kind of common.  Besides, I don't really have the attention span to do this sort of thing for hours and hours.  And I can't eat five hundred pounds of corn.  Chocolate, yes.  Corn, no.


Q:  Isn't that a lot of work for two measly pints?

A:  C'mon!!  That's not the point!!!  It's just wicked cool and now I'll have two pints of corn to eat during the coming Zombie Apocalypse when I'm trapped in my home and thinking, "Gosh, I wish I had some corn..."


Q:  I just did the math on this one, Sheepie.  Between the cost of the equipment, the corn and the "trial runs" you sort of glossed over earlier, those are two of the most expensive pints of corn in the history of the cob.  Not to mention the value of your own time and how much of it you spent picking corn kernels from the coat of a certain AGK.

A:  Well, yeah but you didn't take into account...  I mean...  It's like one of those things where it pays for itself...um...  Oh, shut up.  I know.  You're mean.  Besides, that wasn't even a question.  


Q:  Why, this is just fascinating!  And I am a person with a family, an actual garden and a genuine reason to preserve produce.  How can I learn more about the art of canning?

A:  Now, that's more like it!  You, my friend, are a true team player!  I'd recommend picking up a copy of Ball Blue Book (The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing, Edition 32).  It's not a huge investment and covers the subject well.  Even if you aren't looking to pressure can, this book has recipes and directions for all kinds of food preservation techniques.  You sort of have to get past the stage where the title makes you giggle even though you know that is beneath classy people such as ourselves, but after that you should be all set.


I hope this was helpful.  I suppose I should also mention that, while it's not back breaking labor to can stuff, it does require a little bit of effort.  In fact, the energy I spent on this  endeavor caused me to give in to pressure from another quarter.  I tried to stay the course and fought the good fight.  In the end, though, I gave in.  It was just too hard to resist.





I was under pressure to nap...


SA

12 comments:

Beth said...

I, for one, am so happy that you got the official book and a pressure canner! My brother cans food improperly and I'm scared to death he's going to make his family sick. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you can this summer!

Mel said...

You will likely not be surprised that I own the Ball canning book. And a pressure canner. Those are some very commendable jars of corn. I heartily approve.

Julia G said...

The AGK looks just like Chessie the Railroad Kitten (the historic logo for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad -- I still have my Chessie button from a trip when I was five). http://www.cohs.org/history/chessie/.

I have never tried canning and admire your bravery! Freezing and canning cookbooks come in very handy, though -- I always bring home bushels of berries from the pick-your-own farms and use the freezing tips.

kmkat said...

You knit, you spin, you bake bread, and now you can your own vegetables? Time to buy a sewing machine and a log splitter...

Mia said...

ohhhhhh!!! I am VERY impressed!! I've always been interested in canning all the stuff that needed a pressure cooker, but was too afraid to try. I'll be watching along as you empty the farmers market :)

Denise said...

You have just got to make some strawberry jam cause girl you know that will keep your energy up whilst you are fighting them there zombies...

Kath said...

I believe I can resist the urge to can produce. But napping? Particularly when presented with a sleeping kitty face? No, that's just not possible. Must nap.

Lynne said...

I have a pressure cooker but no urge to preserve! Perhaps because winter starts here tomorrow and I would prefer to hibernate; waking only for knitting (and other fibre hobbies) and eating hearty meals. The fact that it has been raining here for nearly two weeks doesn't help my desire to hibernate!

trek said...

Great canning commentary!

Donna Lee said...

I also own the Ball blue book o'canning. I haven't canned anything in years but somehow this summer )almost summer) I am feeling the urge to be a pioneer woman and can something. I may start with some strawberry jam. My biggest problem with the whole thing is that it has to take place in the heat of the year since that's when all the produce is the freshest.

Karen said...

I am officially jealous. Now I have the urge to can things. Impressed me you have. (We've been watching Star Wars.) I bet that will be the most delicious corn ever. I can't wait to see what you can next.

Teri S. said...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when our CSA wasn't so popular and you could pick all the veggies you wanted, we invested in a pressure canner. But I can't seem to get around the fact that if you are going to can, you need to can BIG...quarts and quarts of the stuff. So we don't.

But after seeing your two jars of corn, my perspective has been revised. Add to that the fact that some friends have more raspberry bushes than they can shake a stick at. At the very least, there's going to be raspberry jam in my future.

I think the AGK inspired me to nap today, which is something I never, ever do. It was quite pleasant, actually, and perhaps I should do it more often.