Canned Coleslaw and a Bit of Advice

Five jars of canned Coleslaw and a pan of Strawberry Rhubarb Squares. There were six jars of Coleslaw, we ate a jar of it for dinner last night.
Note the experimental Tattler Canning Lids, and the one lone Bernardin one-use used metal lid, on the jars.
The Strawberry Rhubarb Squares were made with the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling I canned last spring, with our garden Rhubarb, and the strawberries we picked at a pick-your-own farm.

At our house, the lastest thing since sliced bread is canned coleslaw. Wow!

Attila chopped the vegetables, and I took care of everything else from there. Canning projects are so easy with two people, not only does the job go quicker and easier, but there is also a sense of connection in sharing the tasks, connection to each other, and connection to our food, for both of us. If I were to give away some of the canned products, I think I would also feel a connection to those people who would be eating my creations. Of course, we struggle, and will have to struggle harder from here on, to ensure we have enough to eat, so we aren’t giving away any food, that would mean we would go without.

Coleslaw is something I have not tried to can before, so the whole concept was new to me, the recipe, and the techniques used. Since the coleslaw would be consumed within a week or so, and the jars would not be going into longer term storage, I decided it was the perfect time to experiment with the Tattler lids I purchased a few years ago. The Tattler lids were a big disappointment, the learning curve is very, very steep. I was confident I could master the skill, but alas, after many failed jars, I realized I had met my match. I gave up and went back to the the 100% reliable one-use, tried-and-true metal canning lids. In four decades of canning , not one metal lid has failed on a canning jar, no food has been lost, not even once. The Tattlers were 80% failure. Experimenting with them was put off until a suitable project presented itself, a project like Canned Coleslaw.

As I sit here writing the jars of coleslaw are waiting on the counter, as they must for at least 12 hours after being removed from the canner. Of course, one was consumed for dinner last night, and it was delicious. Also, the Tattler lid on that jar had sealed, yes! But it must be remembered that many of the Tattler lids in the past sealed, only to loose the seal after a week, two weeks, a month, meaning the jars on which they were used had to be constantly checked every few days. Checking lids every few days is far too labour intensive. But since this coleslaw will be sitting in the cupboard in the kitchen, the task will be easily performed, and is a part of the experiment.

The other experiment in the project was the reuse of a previously used metal canning lid. It sealed! So reusing metal canning lids for products that will be eaten within a few weeks is something that is viable at our house. Of course this is NOT RECOMMENDED practise, I am saying that up front, because it is definitely not considered a safe practise. Still, when needs must, metal one-use lids are expensive, and right now are not even available. I will be keeping a very close eye on that one jar with the used lid!

The really, really important aspect of the project is that we LOVE the canned coleslaw. It tastes great, so we will eat it. Other considerations are: cabbage is cheap, the vegetables are all good for us, we leave out the salt so it is sodium-free, it is an instant vegetable side dish or entre, it is easy to preserve, we can grow all of the vegetables required in our small yard, and all of the vegetables are grown in Ontario, so they might be readily available going forward in the new economy.

I will tweak this recipe in several ways. The salt is omitted. The syrup in the recipe was doubled. It was too sweet for us, so the sugar will be reduced, not drastically, but reduced. The important preservative in this canning recipe is the vinegar, so that ingredient stays the same no matter what.

Taking a break from writing, I am just now back from the kitchen. The rings on the Coleslaw jars were removed, and all of the jars sealed. That was good news! The jars were washed to remove any sticky remnants of syrup around the lids or on the jars, and all of the jars are still sealed. That was good news! The jars are lined up at the back of the counter, where I can check the seals on them every day. If a seal fails the jar will go into the refrigerator and if it smells and tastes fine, will be eaten within 24 hours. It is hoped none of the seals will fail. Time will tell.

If I were to give advice to people who are new to canning, this is what I would relate.

First, learn the difference between high acid and low acid foods, this is fundamental to safe canning. The method of canning is different, depending on the acidity of the food you want to can.

High acid foods are most fruits, and canned items like jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes, and can be steam or water bath canned.

Low acid foods are most vegetables, meats, beans and legumes, fish, and many other foods and MUST be pressure canned.

Reliable canning books and online resources have information on what foods are high acid and what foods are low acid, and how to can them safely.

For people canning for families of three or more, intending to can a substantial amount of high acid foods, this larger, stainless steel Victorio Steam Canner is what I would recommend. It Handles 8 pint or 7 quart jars, for canning, AND can also handle 20 quarts of liquid if you use it as a stock pot. It is easy and simple to use, and does not use a lot of water.

For people canning for one, or two, intending to can small to medium amounts of high acid foods, this smaller, lighter and easy to handle aluminium Victorio Steam Canner is what I would recommend. It handles and processes up to 7 quart or 8 pint jars of high-acid foods at one time, does not work as a stock pot, but does allow people with most mobility issues to can with ease. It uses very little water, and does not require lifting jars out of the top of a large pot. I love mine, because I can use it for small batches of the foods I forage, like dandelion blooms, and small batches of jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes.

For people on an extreme budget, or who just want to try out high acid food canning to see if it is for you, low-budget water bath canning may be the way to go. You may already have a pot in your kitchen that will work for water bath canning, as long as it is deep enough to cover the jar lids on a rack with 2 inches of water, and there is a rack or means of keeping the jars from sitting on the bottom of the pan, e.g. use canning rings.

Low acid foods require a Pressure Canner (not a pressure cooker). There are two pressure canners that I would suggest. The first I have not used, but have interacted with dozens and dozens of seasoned canners who rely on it, the Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner. It is apparently easy to use, and very reliable, and has a relatively reasonable price point, it does require a gasket that needs to be replaced occasionally, and has a gauge that needs to be tested annually. The other is the All American Pressure Canner, which is relatively expensive, will last for generations if it is used as recommended, has a metal on metal seal with no gasket required, and can operate with the weight and/or the gauge. Gauges need to be tested regularly to rely on them, but the weight is a piece of metal that does not require upkeep to be deemed reliable. There are NO ELECTRIC PRESSURE CANNING appiances that have been deemed safe for pressure canning by the USDA, in particular no model of Instant Pot should be used for low acid pressure canning, they have been tested and deemed unsafe, despite statements by the manufacturer.

Now, to talk about knowledge. To learn how to can safely, the books by Ball, Bernardin, or Kerr are the way to go, or the free online resources The National Centre for Home Food Preservation, the University Extension Service sites, or the Ball, Bernardin or Kerr web sites, are up to date and reliable sources of information on recommended techniques, and tested recipes.

Always use tested recipes until you evolve into an expert canner, which takes years of experience and study. Botulism can permanently maim or kill, carelessness in canning can be unforgiving, but there is little risk (I feel no risk) unless you fail to follow reliable techniques and recipes. Do not rely on Pinterest, Youtube, or personal blogs for canning techniques or recipes (that includes my blog by the way).

Note that this entry is based on a recipe that is not tested by reliable sources, so use the recipe at your own risk. I am a seasoned canner, and consider myself an expert canner. This is my personal reasoning in using the recipe. It is a pickled product, so if it spoils I will immediately smell it is off. Pickled products will not harbour botulism, the only undetectable danger in the world of canning food. I will trust it is safe unless I detect an off smell or taste, and even then it would probably not hurt me if I ate it, there is no danger of botulism in pickled products, but I wouldn’t eat it.

Well there you have it, brief, unasked for advice. I love canning, just as I love all aspect of food preparation and food preservation, so writing about it delights me.

Stay safe dear friends!

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Tuesday 21 April 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 99.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.5°C
Dew point: -1.8°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: W 31 gust 55 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I have found that everything wants to kill you. For some things, like fast food, or riding a bike, it just takes longer.”
Devin J. Monroe
1983 –

Eat your vegetables!!

Gingerbread Cookies

The weather has been kind, cold and kind. Since we have to be isolated here at Mist Cottage, how cozy it seems to hunker down in warmth and comfort while the wind roars around us. There is no temptation to venture out, or away from the property. This is a kindness on nature’s part, because when the weather turns mild and beautiful, our response will be to escape the bonds of our home, and get into the great outdoors. Since we have a yard, that is not going to be a hardship. But not everyone has a yard, so I am glad that these long weeks of self-isolation, for people in apartments, and other housing without an outdoor space, have been experienced sheltering from not only contagion, but from the wind, rain, snow, and cold.

On Tuesday, April 14th, our State of Emergency in Ontario, Canada, was extended until May 12th. I am grateful for this, as I suffer to think of all the people who have passed away from this awful contagion, and celebrate that we can prevent some of the death and suffering. I feel our species is now under advisement, from natural forces far more powerful than we are, to very carefully consider the terms of our survival.

I have been busy this past week, milling flour, baking bread, and planning meals around rotated storage items. The oldest food is being eaten first. At the moment this involves vintage frozen beets, and several heads of fresh cabbage. The beets were purchased more than five years ago, the date was not put on the packaging, so it is uncertain just how old they are. They were purchased fresh, in a 10 lb bag, cooked, peeled, then frozen in two-serving packets. There are only two packets left now, we have been roasting them, with fresh carrots, to provide us with our dinner vegetables. I am considering using the last of them to make a large batch of Borscht this week, as we like to have heat-and-serve meals at the ready.

Months ago, before the first cases of the virus were announced in Canada, I purchased a 10 lb. bag of sweet potatoes. I have been making Sweet Potato Fries with them, for my lunch. These delicious and nutritious fries are dipped in homemade Squash Sauce, and what a decadent all-vegetable treat they are, tasting like junk food, nourishing the body like real food. There is still a half a bag of those sweet potatoes, so I will be enjoying these lunches for weeks to come.

A recent experiment with No-Knead Bread was deemed a relative failure. Two loaves were baked. The first loaf Attila and I struggled to eat, it was dense and the crust was tough and rubbery. The second loaf, made with a yeast culture from the first loaf, two days later, resulted in another undesirable loaf. It was a sweet loaf, having added an egg, milk, and a bit of sugar to it. The loaf was extremely dense, and crumbly. That second loaf has provided me with breakfast for the last few days though, waste not, want not. I have been making French Toast with it, and topping that with homemade Apple Sauce, and Canadian Maple Syrup. Surprisingly, these breakfasts are very good indeed. But not good enough that I would consider baking that type of bread again.

And a bit of self-referencing trivia to end this post: On April 19, 1811, 209 years ago, across the years and ocean from me, as I sit here in my living room in Ontario, Canada, a baby boy was born, John Thomas, in Manchester, England, where he lived for the rest of his days.

John Thomas was one of my 16 Great Great Great Grandfathers. In the 1870s John Thomas’s grandson, Alfred, would travel across the ocean and settle in Ontario, Canada. Alfred died just a few years before I was born, so I didn’t get to meet him, more is the pity, I have heard he made the BEST Gingerbread Cookies ever.

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Sunday 19 April 2020
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 6.3°C
Dew point: 4.8°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: SW 25 gust 35 km/h
Visibility: 10 km

Quote

“It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward.”
Baltasar Gracian
1601 – 1658

Chelsea Buns

Tank is now officially a tank! The power steering is not working at all. I was just out running an errand in town and my wrists are killing me. It was so hard to turn that steering wheel.

Tank is not working well at the moment, hasn’t been since we first took her in to the garage when the engine light flashed on. They didn’t know how to fix her, charged us $4,500, and had her there working on her for weeks. Then we took her in to our regular garage, he did some work, charged us $500 and it made no difference at all. The money is gone now, there is no more where that came from, and Tank is limping along. The dash lights are coming on, and no one has the skill to diagnose the problem. I am interacting on forums and we are slowly trying to work out what is wrong. From what I gather on the forums, dealerships don’t know either, and her problems are not unusual for her make, model, and year. So it is, for now, a matter of working through all the different possibilities, in hope of hitting on the issue that is causing the problems. We have a code reader coming via Amazon, so that is where we will start.

Since Saturday saw cold rain and snow, it was a day that needed some comfort. Comfort food always seems to make a dreary day a little more cheerful. Attila cooked a turkey dinner, and this time we will only eat leftovers for three days, having diced and frozen the rest of the turkey meat for use in quick Instant Pot meals.

It was a busy day in the kitchen, as I baked bread and muffins in the oven, and cooked three meals worth of kidney beans in the Instant Pot, which were frozen for future meals.

I have been craving Chelsea Buns ever since I discovered the wonder of fresh milled flour. So when Sunday presented itself as cold and windy, it was time to cancel out winter’s last gasps. Out came the recipe book, and I set to work. I didn’t skimp on much in the way of ingredients, reducing only the salt (1/4 teaspoon instead of 1 1/2 teaspoons), and substituting low-sodium margarine for butter. By late afternoon the aroma in the house was simply amazing. Attila was reveling in the garden, and I was tempted, when the Chelsea Buns came out of the oven, to wait for him to come in… but NO, I did not wait. The first one was so delicious that I ate another, then another. When Attila decided to work out in the garden until darkness fell, I ate two more! That was my lunch and my dinner. Attila ate leftovers, and then had a Chelsea Bun for dessert. That left four Chelsea Buns! Two went into the freezer, wrapped for Attila’s lunches, and two were left out for me. Guess what I had for breakfast this morning.

I probably won’t bake Chelsea Buns again until late October or early November, to celebrate the end of harvest and canning season. By then I will be craving them again. But for now, well, lets just say my craving for Chelsea Buns is completely gone.

P.S. and note to self, I milled flour today, 11 cups of wheat berries to equal 16 cups of whole wheat flour.

Worldly

Weather

8°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 29 April 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dew point: -4.8°C
Humidity: 41%
Wind: SE 17 gust 27 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”
Sheilah Graham
1904 – 1988

On the Cheap

These images are to share a couple of budget wise finds that were recently made, on the cheap, so to speak.

Pyrex Bowl
When out collecting garbage from the creek at the Camp, this bowl was found with other discarded items. The other items were indeed garbage, but this little bowl cleaned up well, I thought.
This handy little bowl was free for the finding, just a bit of effort was needed to get rid of the accumulation of silt and leaves.
chain mail scrubber
This stainless steel chain mail scrubber works as advertised! I cleaned the cast iron skillet with it, and then removed some burnt food from the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. It cleans both cast iron and stainless steel. I have been using steel wool, but it always tears up my fingernails, and even cuts my fingers on the really tough jobs. This scrubber has no effect on my fingernails or my skin. It is a winner. This item was described on the internet, where I heard about it for the first time, so the internet comes in handy for some things. It was $13.90 plus tax on Amazon, free delivery with Prime, and worth every penny. There were none available at the local stores.

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Wednesday 24 April 2019
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.5°C
Dew point: 2.6°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: WNW 26 gust 39 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
Edith Sitwell
1887 – 1964

Just watch the popular channels on youtube for a while, proof of point.




Open Windows

I made it, the windows are open in April! Yes, it is the last day of April, and yes I am wearing a sweater indoors to keep warm, but all of the windows on the main floor of the house are wide open and the breeze is blowing through. It is the last day April and the universe sent sunny, relatively mild weather so that I could open these windows. Somebody up there likes me.

Other than enjoying sitting in the living room, watching the wandering breeze flutter the curtains, I’ve had a busy day.

I had washed Iris the trailer during the last brief series of days when the sun shone, and so I was keen to get back to the task today. After removing the lichen, black spots remained all over the roof, and required a lot of elbow grease to remove. I opted to use 30 Seconds solution, which I purchased at Canadian Tire. I added it to the sprayer and up the ladder I went, soaking the entire roof with the solution. And work it did, the black spots dissolved, and what little remained came off easily with a small brush. To rinse the roof I had to carry bucket after bucket of cold water up the ladder, to dump it on the roof. This was very tedious, as the outdoor taps has not been turned on for the summer, so a trip up and down the stairs to the kitchen sink was required for each bucketful. I got my exercise for today.

I found it interesting that the 30 Seconds solution splashed onto my pants and my shirt, and where it landed the fabric has corroded into brown spots that are almost transparent. I believe that 30 Seconds is a very strong bleaching agent. Luckily I was wearing my work clothes, which I removed immediately after finishing the job, and soaked in a sink full of cold clear water. Then I hung the wet clothes on the clothesline across the back porch. That is another first today, the first time I’ve hung laundry to dry outside in 2018, and managed it in April to boot.

Before I sprayed the 30 Seconds on the roof I had to temporarily protect the failing patch on the roof. This I did with aluminum duct tape, placing a round piece of paper against the sticky side, so that the paper would protect the patch from the adhesive, and would not be damaged when the tape is removed.

I shared the driveway with a parade of wasps. They would land on the trailer, on my ladder, on the front door, on the door to the garage. I killed every single one I ran into. I hate wasps around the doors and outdoor activity areas. Attila is allergic to their sting, and although I am not allergic, I know what a wasp sting feels like and I am not keen on the experience.

The robins are hopping all over the back yard, and are so much fun to watch. They stare me down if they see me looking at them out of the window, or today as I stood on the back porch. Early mornings I see two to three rabbits nibbling on our lawn (which is really a well manicured weed field). They are very cute, with red fur on their legs and ears, and a patch of red fur on their backs. Their tales are fluffy white, and they look as if they have been sitting on balls of cotton.

There is nothing like a sunny day to bring cheer into a day.

Well, I am off to make dinner, cauliflower, sweet potato, and Coconut Lime Fish. The windows are still open!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Monday 30 April 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 18.6°C
Dew point: -2.0°C
Humidity: 24%
Wind: NNW 20 gust 41 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
Walt Whitman
1819 – 1892