A peck of pickling

June 27, 2017

Here. Here’s a post I wrote four days ago, but didn’t have the photos edited to go with it. Here it is, with photos. Also, Good Night.

Pretty bread-and-butter pickles in Weck jars!

How it was, was, like this.

I had been out of town for a week. Before I left, I checked the garden. Picked a handful of tomatoes, a couple of banana peppers. Took them with me for a hostess gift.

It got hot while I was gone. Gardens, and things growing in them, like hot.

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Blackberry jam. Heaven in a jar, right here.

We have been puttin’ up, up in here, yes, we have.

And we have done GOOD.

The two gallons of blackberries have metamorphosed into 12 pints of blackberry jam. Two pounds of asparagus, which I had kept on the verge of too long without doing something to it, have been pickled, as have two cartons of mushrooms. And I have cooked a veggie dinner.

Quality control. It passed.

The dinner, while good, did not hit the spot. The jam, some left over from the 12 pints I canned, spread on a piece of white toast, did.

My tummy is happy.

It’s the first time I’ve made blackberry jam, and the first time I’ve tried making jam with pectin that it came out right. My strawberry jam last year, I cooked too long, and it never jelled; I have read that I can open it, dump it all back in a pot, add pectin and sugar, and reboil-recan. Lot of trouble, but probably worth it.

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Berries, and good help to pick them.

Welp, I’m going to have to set aside some time to spend in the kitchen; the season of “puttin’ up,” 2017 version, is fixing to begin to commence.

In my auxiliary refrigerator I have a dozen small heads of cabbage, which are destined for kraut. It’s a moderately labor intensive process, but the food processor takes care of the bulk of it, and salt and time the rest, so that can be dispatched relatively quickly. That, I suspect, is Monday morning. Then it can burble happily away in its “crock,” which is actually a five-gallon food-grade plastic bucket, for six weeks, until it’s ready to take out and can. And we will have kraut for another season.

More importantly, there are two gallons of blackberries in said second fridge, that I went and picked in less than 30 minutes yesterday morning. Yes, there is blackberry jam in my future! (Note to self: Go get sugar.)

I’ve been saying for ages I was going to go pick blackberries up at Scatter Creek Farms, north of me some 30-45 minutes. Last year, a summer hailstorm came through midweek before I was planning on going up that weekend, and did for the berries. This year, I figured I’d get going early. Had AGC 2 all weekend, and I decided he would probably be entertained by going to pick blackberries, and if nothing else, could romp about for a bit and wear himself out.

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Barbecue time!

May 28, 2017

Dinner. Yes, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

It’s pretty much canonical, in this part of the world, that Memorial Day weekend, sometime, you need to consume some meat that’s been up close and personal with a grill or a smoker.

I will wager that not too many folks got as good a taste of that as I did today. Not that I can claim any of the credit for the barbecue — just the sides — but I had what I believe is just about as good a pork barbecue as I’ve ever had in my life.

How it was, was, like this. A month or six weeks ago, when we had all the flooding in Northeast Arkansas, some friends of mine who live an hour or so to the north of me had 5 1/2 feet of water in their home on the Eleven Point River. This is the third time they’ve gotten water in their house, which is built well above the 100-year flood level; the other two times, it was a foot or so, and they’d elevated everything on blocks and moved everything moveable upstairs. A pain in the butt, but manageable.

Oh, and the insurance company cancelled their flood insurance after the second event.

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The start of the garden! Can't wait.

The start of the garden! Can’t wait.

Complain about the US Postal Service all you want. I love ’em. And UPS, and FedEx.

The proportion of my shopping that’s being done online is growing steadily, a trend that reflects the national move away from brick-and-mortar stores. I still do my grocery shopping in person (though I expect I’ll be using the Kroger ClickList function sooner rather than later, just for the convenience of it), but increasingly, everything else comes online.

Except shoes. I want to try shoes on before I buy ’em.

Anyway, one of the great things about online shopping is when you reach into the mailbox, or look out in the carport, and get that little frisson of excitement before you remember what you ordered. “Oooohh! Packages!” It’s like Christmas.

Today, my mailperson (he actually is a mailman, at least most days) brought me two food-related packages: the first of my garden seeds, and a collection of produce bags for storing the yield from said garden in the fridge.

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Well, this is a novel sort of Christmas treat!

Well, this is a novel sort of Christmas treat!

I feel like Paul Newman.

Which is not a bad thing, because I? Love me some Paul Newman, star of the Second Best Movie Ever Made, in which he proclaims, proudly, “I can eat 50 eggs!” and proceeds to do so.

I can’t eat 50 eggs. But I can, by George, peel 60 of ’em. Sixty tiny little quail eggs, in fact. In thirty minutes. I’m just good like that.

Back a while ago, when I first commenced thinking about Christmas gift baskets, I ran across something on one of the food blogs I read about pickled eggs. Which got me to thinking. Which is generally a dangerous thing.

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Thinking about Christmas….

November 4, 2016

holiday-basket…baskets, that is.

Long-time readers will recall that I make annual Christmas baskets, collections of goodies, for gifts for some family and friends. It’s about the time of year I start thinking about what’s going to go in those baskets.

Yes, I know it’s hard to think about Christmas when it’s 80 degrees outside and you still have tomatoes on your vines. I can’t help global warming. Work with me, here.

I’m thinking this year’s baskets are going to lean toward the savory, a turn of mind inspired when I canned jalapeno peppers someone gave me last week. Such pretty, Christmasy-looking things they were.

Well, why not? Maybe not pickled jalapenos, but something leaning in that direction?

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