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.

One Cheese Slice

For decades I have had issues with pre-processed foods.

While growing up, we processed our own foods for use during the winter. Apples, pears, potatoes and many other fruits and vegetables were harvested or purchased in sufficient quantity, when they were in season, to last until the next harvest season. The same old canning jars were used over and over again. Cold cellars kept produce well for many months.

When I was attending University the first time through, studying Food and Nutrition, I was disturbed by the trend to individually package food. I wrote an impassioned essay on the evils of individually wrapped cheese slices, which was something new on the market at that time. Sure, individually wrapped slices made separating the slices so much easier, but at such a cost! At the time I was considered extremely “off the wall” for my views, both faculty and fellow students found my ideas “eccentric”. I was ridiculed by some faculty, some students. I did get an A+ on that paper I wrote though, so the indifference to consequences did not prevent the Professor of Human Nutrition from recognizing and rewarding good work.

After many decades, I had almost lost touch with the root reason for my dislike of pre-processed foods. It is primarily the extravagant packaging. Which of course, extends well beyond food products these days.

There are other reasons for objecting to pre-processed foods of course. Another reason is the large proportion of ingredients that do not promote human health and nutrition; additives, salt, sugars of all kinds, fats of all kinds, preservatives and so on. And yet another reason is that I believe food chains should be as local as possible, and that destruction of food sources should be localized and recognized as a local issue, impacting people in such a way as to illicit an immediate and localized response. Global food economies have robbed us of our essential social local feedback systems.

All those miles of floating plastic bits in the ocean are our species shame. And I cannot help but think that there are a few small bits of plastic, perhaps from a slice of cheese I ate, floating out of sight, somewhere out at sea.

Our species is creating more issues than our technology, and our activists, can effectively tackle.

Here at home, Mist has settled in and seems content. She enjoyed her milk this morning, her observations gazing out the open blinds, and her cozy bed. Quiet and serene again, thank goodness! An indignant Mist is a force to be reckoned with!

Finally the humans get it! Mist waited all day yesterday for us to figure out that she just wanted to be brushed; what a happy cat she is today. Just one of the trials and tribulations a cat has to endure, waiting for the human epiphany.
DSCF3575 MistWithBrush

The rest of the week will be extremely busy for me, as I will travel long distances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. My routes will be picturesque though, so I am focusing on the lovely drive, rather than the destinations, which are not so picturesque; work and a car maintenance appointment.

One of the things I discovered while I was looking through some older entries, looking for a specific date on something, is that the images included with the entries are memory triggers, much more so than dates or entry titles or tags or categories or key words. This inspires me to spend a little more time preparing images for the entries.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Wednesday 18 September 2013
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 21.6°C
Dewpoint: 7.6°C
Humidity: 40%
Wind: SSW 17 km/h

Quote

“The greatest justice in life is that your vision and looks tend to go simultaneously.”
Kevin Bacon
1958-