Monday, August 18, 2008

If I could save time in a bottle...or even a freezer bag.

I don't know where the time goes. This time of year is rivaled only by spring lambing season for morning slipping away into dusk before the long list of chores has been completed. The garden is coming in full force, as are the weeds. It seems strange to say, after all the rain and flooding this spring, but we do really need some rain right now. With the dry August that we have had, the gardens have had to be watered almost daily, adding another 'must do' to the list. I thought that my green beans were done producing....until I figured out that my lovely pooches were up to their old tricks and were 'helping me' harvest beans...for their own selfish purposes. So, now that I have gently reminded my canines of proper gardening etiquette, I am once again reaping plentiful harvests of the delectable green pods. So much so, that I have found yet another passion. Canning! Yes, my friends, I have always canned...applesauce, jellies...all the usual more acidic fare that does not need to be canned with the use of a pressure canner. Then my friend, Miss Effie, convinced me to start canning those beans, and she would even let me borrow her pressure canner. Yes, one of those gigantic pots with the gauges and gadgets on top that sputter and hiss. The same ones that you heard your Aunt Martha talk about when she told the story about the old lady down the road with 50 cats that let the pressure canner get out of control and blew up her house, spewing cat hair into the next seven counties.

I apprehensively accepted the offer, and Miss Effie brought me the canner... thankfully, complete with the instructions. Mind you, I too have those horror stories floating around in the back of my mind, and I was wondering if this was really a good idea. I diligently (nervously) read the instructions...12 times...okay 30 times, and finally thought to myself, how hard could this be? I gathered my supplies, read the instructions again, and began the process. I started feeling more confident as things started coming together. Jars washed (check), beans washed, snapped, and loaded in jars (check), boiling water and salt added (check), lids sealed (check), canner filled with the appropriate amount of water (check), canner filled with the appropriate amount of water (I had to check again, sorry), canner cover on and sealed properly (check). Now all I had to do was turn the heat on, and wait for the little thingy at the top to jiggle (oh, yes, it was set to the correct amount of pounds of pressure, I checked). Pretty soon said thingy started to jiggle, so okay, now I have to turn the heat down a little. I am still a bit nervous at this point, so I am reaching across the stove, trying to reach the dial with my arm stretched out as far as it could possibly be and still be attached to my body, cautiously keeping the eye closest to the stove squinted closed... 'cause, oh, yeah, if that puppy blows it is going to help a lot if my eye is closed. I finally made purposeful contact with the control and was able to adjust the heat to the recommended number of jiggles per minute. Success! Processed for the required 20 minutes, waited for the pressure to go down and the sputtering to stop, wondering what would I find when I opened that contraption.


What? Did you think I was going to screw it up??
So now, oh, yeah, I've got this. I am canning everything I can get my hands on. I have become a 'produce hussy', trying to see what I can trade at the farmers' market for produce. "Please, just one more bushel of peaches? I'll give you some homemade salted nut rolls? Cookies? How about some yarn?". It's really sad. Sure, I could just buy some produce, but where is the glory in that? I am all about the barter system. There is some kind of thrill in knowing that you got a fabulous deal on something and were able to preserve it for all eternity...or at least through the winter. Then I have the added bonus of having a titillating tale of veggie procurement to tell every time we open a jar for supper.

Here is one experiment that I am not so sure about.

Sun Pickles. I was at the neighbor's house the other day (NOT Miss Effie's), and they wanted to show me how to make Sun Pickles. I thought, sure, why not? They had some made already and offered me one, they were pretty tasty. Basically, you throw a bunch of vinegar in a big jar with a bunch of cucumbers, salt, dill and stuff, then you add a piece of rye bread, what? Rye bread? That's where they lost me too. Anyway, we did mix up a batch, and I brought it home...did I mention that I now had to put this concoction in the sun for 5 days?? This is what it looked like after 5 days. Some kind of horrific science experiment gone bad. I guess that's what it is supposed to do......I did get to remove the bread after I took it out of the didn't help much....I dunno.... I hope we don't get botulism from my new obsession. Thanks Miss Effie.


~*Sarah*~ said...

those sun pickles look ...uhm ...tasty.

I'll take your word on those.

I'm jealous of your pretty green jars! Especially since my bean plants are in a sad state at the moment.

And I lol'd at your canning story, because I'd have done the same thing. Heck I get nervous everytime I take pyrex out of the oven.

Miss Effie said...

I did not give you the "sun pickle" recipe.... you can only blame me for the canning obsession.

I feel so much better, knowing that I am not alone. Besides, all those city folks will be coming out here when the world goes "ka-boom!"

Or was that a pressure canner???

Michelle said...

Okay, the sun pickles make me nervous.

Anonymous said...

I'm not eating those this can't make me. I'm an adult now and therefore get to make my own decisions...the sun pickles are OUT.

Crosswinds Farm said...

Sooo, I guess you guys are not on board with the sun pickles?
I am so sorry Miss Effie, I should have specified that one of our OTHER neighbors gave me the sun pickle recipe, I will correct that!

Nancy K. said...

oh GAG!!!!!!!!

lisa said...

Sun pickles look like one of those concoctions that you eat on a dare.

The beans look delicious though!

Nancy K. said...

So, is that a 'barf basket' sitting next to the jar of pickles???

Don't even THING of bringing those to Jefferson!

Crosswinds Farm said...

Who knew that so few sun pickles could incur the wrath of so many?

You don't want the recipe then, Lisa??

Nancy, I told you that Marie and I were bringing snacks for Jefferson, didn't I?

Tammy said...

Too funny! I have a vivid imagination too, and once I hear a 'horror story' they stick with me forever. The pickles look, uh, interesting. I laughed about the dogs helping you to harvest. Last year I kept finding small green tomatoes laying on the ground, partialy eaten. Finally figured out Boone evidently had a taste for green 'maters!

Anonymous said...

I had sun pickles in Russia. Did you put garlic, dill, and other good things inside of that jar also?

Crosswinds Farm said...

Tammy, I love that Boone!

Justin, there are ALL kinds of good things inside that jar :-0.

Rayna said...

Yay for bartering! My favorite thing to do! Well, at flea/farmers markets at least :) Very nice beans...I don't like pickles to begin with, but yeah...that jar looks..interesting to say the least :) Good luck! :) Hope they taste better than they look :)

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