Monday, May 17, 2010

To boldly go where I have never gone before

I realize that canning is routine for most people, but I have always had a fear of it. After reading so many different articles and books on canning, I had this dread in the back of my head that somehow I'd do it wrong, and my whole family would wind up with a horrible case of food poisoning.

But, with the encouragement of my friends, and almost 3 hours worth of work (I'll explain that part in a minute..)

SUCCESS! Homemade strawberry jam!

Yes, I have that same "look what mine hands hath wrought" sort of feeling that I got the first time I made pudding from scratch (are you sensing a theme, here? It was a milestone moment of my cooking career...)

OK, so WHY THREE HOURS worth of work?

Well, my flat-top stove just doesn't like to co-operate with me, especially when the pans that I'm using are not suited for it. My mom had given me an old canning pot, and it took TWO HOURS to get the water to boil. TWO HOURS! That was incredibly frustrating. The actual work itself was much, much less than that.

In the long run, did I save any money? No, not really. By the time you factor in all the ingredients, I'd have to say each jar cost about $2. However, I went in to this for the learning experience and to be able to provide something homemade for my family. It is nice to know that with this particular batch of jam, I know everything that went into it and what sort of cleanliness standards were involved. That actually means quite a bit to me. Having worked in several food establishments, I know that -- even though the people I worked with were very conscientious -- there would have been nothing stopping me from touching the food with filthy hands (or doing something worse) if I had been the malicious sort. Sad, but really true.


On a completely different note, I just had to share these pictures!

On Saturday, I was greeted with screams of "there's a cicada killer in the house!" As you are probably aware, these are majorly big wasps. As I made my way into the kitchen, I found these brave folks ready to do battle with it:

Truth be told, however, they chickened out once they heard it buzzing rather ferociously in the bathroom (it was stuck behind the shower curtain) and yours truly had to finally finish it off.

Finally, in the "no good deed goes unpunished" category, poor Christopher tried to comfort his little sister (who had been having a rough afternoon) by reading to her, only to have this happen...

He was rather uncomfortable and had to be rescued so that he could get up and let Grace take a much-needed nap.


Rebekka said...

Oh, man, I would have been screaming, too.

Ouiz said...

*grin* They really aren't that bad. Lots of buzz, but that's about all. (however, seeing them actually ATTACK a cicada in mid-flight? Wow... we saw that once and it was most impressive... and loud. They dropped right in front of the stroller.)

Totally off the subject, but the most impressive walk we ever took around the block (the cicada killer ranked #2) was the time we were walking and Sean (a two-year old at the time) was asking what the transformers on the powerline were for. Just as my dh finished his explanation, the one we were looking at EXPLODED -- shower of colorful sparks and everything. It was amazing!

Beth said...

that is so sweet - and great job on the canning!

Hm... maybe I should try to fly in for the day to the conference? Worth it?

Ouiz said...

If you want a chance to actually pick up and look at books that are recommended by various Catholic HSers, then yes... or, if you just want a chance to listen to some great speakers inspire you as you get started, then again yes.

If you're looking for a great place to eat, then NO! Run away screaming! (the conference facility was abysmal)

Kimberlee said...

I clicked on the link and screamed when the picture popped up. Oh my! You are a brave and bold lady. And that picture of Christopher is so precious.

Kimberlee said...

And congratulations on the jam! It looks delicious.

Amber said...

Congrats on the jam, that looks lovely! My kids have been agitating for me to make some more because we ran out ages ago.

Happy birthday!

Ouiz said...

Thank you so much!

Yeah, cicada killers are wasps that you really have to have some respect for... I mean seriously, that thing is about 2 inches long! I just loved the fact that several of my gang... including 2 yr old Grace... decided to march in there and do battle -- and thought ahead to get some protective gear! Can't go wrong with a storm trooper mask!

Thanks also to both of you on the comments on the jelly. My kids want to dive right into it, but I'm in major horde mode right now... it took me a long time to make it, so I want to save it! Am I crazy?

Cydney said...

Wow, that's some wasp! They look like Japanese hornets... If I didn't know better what it was I'd have run screaming, too!

Congrats on your strawberry jelly! I've made strawberry freezer jam before, but that was before I'd ventured into canning. We moved our strawberry patch earlier this year, so we're getting some but not as many. My neighbor has tons of red raspberries, though, so I'm hoping to make jelly from some of them!

Somewhat unrelated, another neighbor gave me okra plants. I've never grown it or even known anyone who did, but I love it fried, pickled or in gumbo. Finding other ways to eat it will be fun but the neighbor says they have flowers like hibiscus!

Casey said...

I cheat and make strawberry jam in the breadmaker since my breadmaker has a setting for jams. It still takes an hour or so to do. I love the cicada battle costumes. You have to be fully protected against insects. :) Love that your little man was so kind to his sister. My Jacob let Allyson (he's just turned 5 in April and she's 3) put her little legs on him before nap time and was rubbing her feet because her feet were hurting and he was singing a song to her so she'd feel better. Sometimes it's amazing to see how sweet their hearts are.

Ouiz said...

Casey, I had no idea that breadmakers had a jam setting! I've learned something new today!

And yes, it's amazing to see our kids being so totally selfless and giving. I think Jacob rubbing Allyson's feet is going to be one of those memories you will never, ever forget...