Cancation

There are vacations, staycations, and I have just decided that what I had… was a cancation. I stayed home and canned for a week. And I enjoyed it. Attila stayed home and enjoyed being home, low-key, low pressure, he loved it. And I, and Attila, will enjoy the results of the cancation for months and months to come.

In total, I have canned over 100 jars of food since the first weekend of September. I am now perfectly comfortable using my All American pressure canner. There are only one dozen empty canning jars left in the canning supplies, so another dozen were ordered on sale from amazon, to arrive sometime this coming week. Canning lids were a reasonable price at the local dollar store, so a season’s supply were purchased, ready for next year’s cancation.

And still, apple season is just getting into full swing, so there may be a bushel of apples needing to be canned in the near future. The canning equipment is on standby.

Also, somewhere in the deep dark of the chest freezer lurks a large bag of beef bones, that were part of the quarter of grass-fed cow that we purchased quite a few years ago now. That needs to be turned into bone broth for soups, which will be pressure canned.

It will be a few weeks yet before canning season is over for 2018.

Since the cancation involved no financial outlay for entertainment or travel, no eating out, no drinking out… well, it didn’t cost a cent. So Attila and I both agreed that an indulgence was in order. We bought a 15 cubic foot chest freezer! It doesn’t sound like an indulgence I know. But we could limp along with the banged up, small, used chest freezer that in use at the moment, bought for a song quite a few years ago. It still works well. That is why this is an indulgence, a new chest freezer is not actually NEEDED, but it will certainly improve the quality of life here at Mist Cottage.

The new chest freezer was delivered last week, and installed by the delivery fellows. They were quite helpful, installing the casters for me, setting it up where I wanted it, plugging it in, making sure everything was tickety boo. The all-summer heat wave was still clinging to us at that point, so I made sure they parted with cold beverages in hand.

I have decided to take exclusive responsibility of the frozen food here at Mist Cottage. It is beyond Attila, who works full-time, and has other areas in the house to keep organized, like the garage.

My first step was to measure the interior of the new freezer, then head to the Dollar Store. Stackable baskets with handles were purchased to aid in keeping like items together and easily accessible. Wish me luck with that.

The next step, the one currently underway, is to slowly remove items from the old freezer, and place them in the appropriate baskets in the new freezer. This is a slow process, because there are many surprises in the old chest freezer. For instance, Attila thought he had found all the frozen tomatoes last year, for me to stew and freeze. Well, he missed a few, two big bags of them actually. So my efforts were diverted into dealing with the tomatoes, which were stewed and ended up in last night’s dinner, Lebanese Beef and Green Bean Casserole, in the Instant Pot of course. Then there was the bag of pineapple, with the missing tag, open to freezer burn. That was stewed as well, taste tested, Attila approved, then pureed as an ingredient for muffins. Today, a small container of chopped turkey breast was rescued from the freezer, and it will become tonight’s dinner, Mongolian Turkey, in the Instant Pot of course. So you can see how this freezer organization is going, slowly but surely.

So here I am, inventing ways to make dribs and drabs of vintage food palatable. It is my ongoing fantasy (decades of dreaming) that the chest freezer will be organized, and that food will be easily identified and used in a timely manner. I can dream can’t I!

Attila has been dehydrating cayenne peppers from our garden, a work in progress. I have dehydrated three 500 ml jars of tomato powder, which is the skins and seeds of the tomatoes, dehydrated in the oven, then put through the blender to powder. The real dehydration coup though, is the onion tops, walking onions, which Attila dehydrated, and are amazingly tasty. These onion tops would have been composted, but now they are going to a welcome addition to many soups, stews, and casseroles.

A project under consideration is freezing chopped onions. They can be purchased cheaply in the autumn in large 10 pound bags, chopped and frozen on cookie sheets, then taken out of the freezer throughout the winter for soups, stews, and casseroles. I don’t mind chopping onions every day for cooking, when they are freshly harvested and crisp, it is actually enjoyable. But as the winter progresses the onions available are decreasingly fresh, and become more and more difficult to chop; that is when frozen chopped onions will seem like a great idea.

Before seriously considering this onion chopping project, an experiment was conducted. Two onions were chopped, then frozen, then used to create last night’s dinner. They sautéed very nicely, and there was no noticeable difference in the dish, compared to using freshly chopped onions. So the decision was made to chop onions for freezing.

Now, if you chop onions, you know it is a sad affair, lots of tears. After reading a lot of advice online, for chopping onions in quantity, I decided to purchase an onion chopper, which will arrive sometime this week. The amazon ratings aren’t all that high, but the personal accounts I read online were more glowing. I chose this unit because of the personal anecdotes I read, the price, and the size. Storage is an issue here at Mist Cottage, and this item has a relatively small footprint. I hope to use it to chop onions for daily use, when frozen chopped onions are not available. This little unit should be easy to clean, in the sink or dishwasher. I could use the food processor, but I don’t like the inconsistent size of the onion pieces, and the cleanup is not something I would tackle on an onion a day basis. We shall see if my reasoning and plans for the onion chopper work out the way I hope they will.

Wordly

Weather

9°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Sunday 30 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.1°C
Dew point: 5.6°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: W 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

It was 7C outside this morning at 6:00 a.m., and 21.5C in the house. The heating system has not been turned on yet this fall, so we are maintaining our comfortable indoor temperature due to heat retention from body heat, cooking, and sunshine through the windows. This feels pretty good.

Quote

“We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.”
Thomas A. Edison
1847 – 1931

Mind boggling but true, in my opinion. What this means to me is that life is never boring. I feel it is cowardly to think you know everything, and foolish to think you are an expert at anything.

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6 Responses to Cancation

  1. Teri says:

    Hooray for your new freezer! I’m sure you’ll have it filled in no time.

    We have a slightly smaller chest freezer, it’s 11 cu ft and getting pretty old. Sooner or later the top of it is going to fail in some way. We love it for buying things when a really good sale comes along. It’s especially good for when they have those 50% off meats because the due date is one or two days off but still looks fresh. Since it goes straight into the freezer, it doesn’t matter.

    I never thought of chopping onions and freezing them. I guess I’ve assumed they were too fragile and would become mushy. I haven’t really noticed onions getting soft by the end of winter, though. Maybe we have more turnover of product due to the population.

    I find chopping onions quick and easy. I follow a tip I once learned to keep the root on while cutting. Then I cut the onion from root to top and turn each half cut side down. Slice root to top and then cross ways. It only takes a moment to chop them that way.

  2. Teri, I am on my way to getting the freezer filled! Organized first though, crucial to reducing vintage food adventures.

    Freezers are great for stopping time, and meat is one of the things that can really offer big savings, particularly the way you do it.

    The onions are not good for eating, they are soft after you freeze them, I will only be using them for soups, stews, and casserioles, where I saute them first. The onions we can are pretty punky by spring. The membrane between the layers gets very viscose and hard to deal with. Of course, we are buying the cheapest onions available, that might make a difference, I don’t know because we don’t use regularly priced onions for cooking.

    You describe a very good method, I saw that on a video today! Seems like it will work really well, thanks for the tip!

  3. Birdie says:

    You absolutely amaze me at how much you know about canning and freezing food.
    I do love having a deep freeze. It has paid for itself. It’s a smaller one but perfect for just me and my husband.

  4. Birdie, canning eference books are handy things, I took a course at the university, and I do it frequently, it adds up.

    The freezer is an amazing appliance, I love it. It is a lot less work to prepare food for freezing than it is to can food, and advantages, as the food comes out as it goes in in a freezer, with canning there is heat and cooking involved which changes the food. There are a few downsides to freezers, power outages, and you have to wait for things to thaw to use them, which means you need to think ahead. With canning you don’t have to think ahead to use the food… now I can do both when preparing meals, made a sudden decision, or plan hours in advance.

  5. Birdie says:

    Our freezer came unplugged once and we didn’t notice. It was upsetting but I mostly felt upset that there was a whole salmon in there that had to be thrown into our green bin. I felt horrible that it had to die for no reason.

    I am thinking about getting a pressure canner. What do you recommend? I know NOTHING about pressure canners at all.

  6. If our freezer ever goes down I will be canning meat, then fruit, then vegetables, as fast as I can. Fingers crossed it never comes to that. We have an ancient generator that could be coerced into service in the case of dire need, that might keep up going until the power was back up.

    I have the All American pressure canner, pricey and worth every penny for what I want to do. The biggest drawbacks to it are that it is heavy, shouldn’t be used on a flat surface range, and that it is relatively expensive. The bonuses are that it has both a gauge and a weight for canning, and it has a metal on metal seal, which I was leary about and now love, no gaskets, ever. This canner is made to last.

    Many people love their Presto pressure canners, the 23 quart in particular. It is lighter than the all American, some people say they use it on a flat surface rainge, and it uses a gasket. I have never owned this canner so I can’t say, but many people do say.

    If you want to read all about pressure canning the most reliable site is the National Centre for Home Preservation (USDA affiliate), if they say something they mean it, they have tested it.