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HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Cans Across America

My lovely lady friends and I got together yesterday to participate in the Canning Across America “Canvolution.” Nicole is ultra deft in her pouring abilities.
Rachel can bring home the pears, boil ‘em up in a pan-and never, never let you forget she’s a ham…
We opted to make spiced poached pears. They were gorgeous- we steeped them in a thyme-infused simple syrup and then swaddled them with bay leaf, black peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a crisp white wine topper. Come winter, I’m jazzing mine up with port and parking my rear in front of the wood stove. Bring it, arctic blasts and cold snaps! I am PREPARED! 
We feasted on everyone’s brunch potluck offerings while the jars processed, including: mimosas;  lemon pistachio pesto on market fresh bread; cucumber & yogurt soup with mint, cumin, and dill; fresh peaches & raspberries with Jenny’s granola, and Beth’s blueberry crumble bars. Jenny, a fellow beekeeper, also generously shared honey from her first extraction. Golden, exquisite nectar-so good, we drizzled it straight into our mouths! Wild times! 
The recipe we used can be found here (word from the wise: peel your pears before attempting to halve them, as indicated in the recipe, unless you enjoy the sensation of slicing skin from your palm…). If you’ve never canned with friends before, I highly recommend it. Much like knitting circles or book clubs provide socialization and productivity, canning shindigs leave everyone feeling socially revitalized and homeward-bound with bottled-up memories of good times! 

The English Language





This is what speaks to me, everyday. 

Where I’m Calling From





A few shots from around and about the English grounds. 


*Small Measure: Find beauty where you are. It’s everywhere, no matter where you’re calling from (this post’s title is based on a Raymond Carver short story as well as a collection of short stories by the same name; R.C. is an old favorite, a sort of Tom Waits literary kin). 

Cooling Off Period


I love to can. Really. I even wrote a book about it, so, there’s legitimate proof as to my fondness for the technique. Like any intense relationship, though, sometimes things get a bit overheated and a cooling off period is necessary. It just happens. 


I live in the southeastern U.S.. It’s August. My house has no A.C.. The south is known for its humidity. Accordingly, my canner and I took a break this week. We forged other alliances, tried out new things. Confident in the unshakable certainty of our relationship, we enjoyed other activities, knowing we’d merge again soon, when the cloud of hot, heavy, nasty air moved on and we could breathe around each other more easily once again. It’s a short-lived break, but a necessary one, for both of us. 

What did I discover during my canning time out? One word-gazpacho. I love the sound of it, gaz-PAH-cho. Like a confident, saucy Lady, perched languidly on a bar stool, dressed in a red dress and 4 inch heels, sipping sangria. Were gazpacho human, it would no doubt look just so. 

My garden is busting out, pouring forth a scandalous display of veggie booty. It’s finally high season in the soil-the tomatoes are turning red (and gold!), cucumber vines are running all over each other, the zucchini is putting out fruit faster than I can harvest it. Peppers, herbs, yellow and winter squash, pumpkins, japanese eggplant-it’s a wild, happy mess out there. 

Since I’m seeking comfort elsewhere this week (see above), gazpacho seemed like the perfect solution for using up all this veggie madness in an efficient and delectable (and time sensitive) manner. Blessed as I am with a husband whose inner Julia Child knows no limits, we feasted last night on the best gazpacho ever to pass my lips. THE. BEST. GAZPACHO. EVER. Perfect in all the right ways. Full of flavor, texture, heat, acid, zip, and twang. Groan-worthy, in fact. 

Should you find yourself with veggies all up in your business and a need for a canning time-out, whip this up. You’ll be glad you did, and your relationship (with your canner, that is) will be all the better for it. 

Bar-setting Gazpacho
*Thanks to the incomparable chef G. for this, who serves me heaven on a plate every night folks. Every. Night. 

The Goods
-Chopped tomatoes (enough to fill 2/3 of the food processor)
-1/2 jar (12 oz) Bionature strained tomatoes or tomato juice
-3 cloves garlic (minced)
-1/2 sweet onion (diced)
-2 stalks celery (diced)
-1 carrot (diced)
-1/2 yellow, orange. or red pepper (diced) 
-1 medium cucumber (diced)
-1/3rd cup olive oil
-Chipotle Tobasco (best) or hot sauce to taste
-1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
-2 Tbsp. lime juice
-1 Tbsp.  white wine vinegar
-1 pinch dried thyme
-1 pinch toasted (in a dry pan for a minute) ground cumin
-A couple pinches of salt
-A little ground pepper
-A couple pinches of chopped fresh herbs (such as marjoram, basil, cilantro, parsley, or whatever you like), optional

The Deal: 
-Heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, carrot, and celery. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cook for two more minutes, then add tomato juice and stir. Turn heat back up to medium, then cook 4 more minutes. Set aside. 
-Pulse tomatoes a couple of times in food processor till chunky. Spoon out tomato mixture into a large mixing bowl, till food processor is left only half full. 
-Add tomato juice/veggie/and oil mixture to food processor. Add chipotle sauce, salt, ground pepper, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and fresh herbs (if using). 
-Pulse a few times till blended, but still a little chunky.
-Add to bowl containing reserved tomato puree.
-Add diced cucumber, and stir. 
-If possible, chill for 20-30 minutes.
-Enjoy.

Can-a-rama!

My small measure column today over at Design Sponge is all about canning-questions, concerns, parties. Come find me there…and feel free to share your canning triumphs and travails here!