Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Channeling Martha Stewart Again

On Friday, I made 2 loaves of Amish Friendship Bread from a starter given to me by QH's sister. I have 4 starters in gallon size zip bags fermenting on top of my cupboard. I plan to give some of the starters away, and keep a few to make more bread. I hope to send some to my handsome son who is in the Navy and stationed in Virginia who is also homesick.

Yesterday, I stood in the kitchen running vegetables through my food processor and hunting for my jar rings and jar lids I haven't laid my eyes on for over 2 years now. I did zero (0) canning last year and I am paying the price for it this year. No salsa, no canned tomatoes, no jelly or apple butter in the store room. Not good. I have to replenish my stash so we can eat well this winter. I took the Romas and Jalepenos from my garden, mixed them with red onion, green peppers, garlic, and some seasonings and ended up with 9 quarts and a pint of homemade salsa. Next on the list is canned tomatoes and anything else I think we can use and eat this winter.

Today, QH and I spent the afternoon picking crabapples from the tree out in front of his folks place. The apples nearest to the ground were ruby red and ready and we picked almost two 5 gallon buckets full. Those will be just the beginning. The tree is loaded this year to the point the branches are hanging low to the ground. Those highest up will be ready this week, so we will be pickin' and a grinnin' next weekend.

The juice from those apples make the prettiest jelly. It has a nice pinkish-amber hue to it and it tastes like honey. We are looking for blackberry juice to mix with it. His Mom mixed them half-and-half one year and the jelly that resulted was heavenly. We plan to make a few different flavors, and of course, we are trying the slow cooker apple butter recipe.

Martha Stewart is channeling through me again. There was a change in the weather. It cooled down and I feel that little tickle I get when fall is close to coming. I've seen some changing of the leaves (most of it is due to lack of rain this year), but I've seen it and it's usually that sign that brings my favorite season into my experience.

Geese are gathering, the flowers are starting to fade, and I can actually smell, yes, smell, the season coming (or are those cheese curds from the Minnesota State Fair?). No matter. It's the time to prepare and lay in stocks of food and fuel and other provisions for the coming winter. I'm going to enjoy the season as much as I can, and if you see me smiling, know it's because I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Nothing makes you feel more accomplished than a storeroom full of canned goods you made yourself. It's also a sign that we are not as bad off as we think. If you have a stash, then you have a sense of security, and in these economic times, I'll take any sense of security I can!

It does involve work. Standing in a hot, steamy kitchen with pots boiling and peelings clogging my sink is not exactly fun, but when you see what you get as a result of that hard work, it's completely worth it. Not only that, there is not doubt about what is in those jars. You put the ingredients in and mix them up and seal them up, so if the jar doesn't seal, you don't eat it. No national recalls, and the ingredients are for the most part, organic.

And for that most of all, it's completely worth all the peeling, sweating, boiling, steaming and cooking. When you hear that "pop" when your jars seal, it brings a sense of pride to my heart. I feel it totally validates what I do. And it tastes like summer in the coldest part of winter.

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