Wednesday, August 15, 2007


You who've been around for a while may my remember the story of the Christmas Ham and the resulting tale of the new range. Those of you who've known me even longer know that I am a little bit of an old-fashioned girl. I believe in cloth diapers. I like food from my own yard. And I really really like to put food up via the method commonly known as canning. Most of my canning activities take the form of hot water baths. Now, since I got the new range I had not done much canning, principally due to a perceived lack of time and a very real involvement with other things. When I bought the new range I asked Mr. Wonderful's occasional golf buddy (good thing he don't golf wit' him no more) very clearly and very distinctly "Can I can on this range?" I reminded him that I was a former Homemaker of the Year at the local county fair. I reminded him that I was "weird" and did weird things like "can stuff" - sometimes a lot of stuff. I asked again and again, and once again for good measure. I always got the same answer. Yes. They'd worked out the kinks and new glass top ranges were fine to can on. You can can your little heart out. Can away!
He lied. Or maybe he was misled. One cannot process hot water bath items on a glass top range. I put my canner on the biggest burner. I turned the heat to it's highest setting. And I waited. And waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. In fact, the water did not even simmer. I lifted the pot and, upon seeing the light, the element glowed up at me. But no boil. In order to safely process acid foods, a full rolling boil is required. For low acid foods you need a pressure cooker, which apparently works great on a flat top range. And you can use a pressure canner for high acid foods, too. Trouble is I don't own one big enough to process quart jars. Would you believe that I was raised by women who actually did this for a living? We've got home economics teachers in the bloodline here, from back in the day when preservation was necessary to survival. Between them and the other family full of depression survivors, I am pretty able. Not to mention the geographic location of my upbringing which lends itself to a conceited independence. Yankees really do think we not only can, but SHOULD do it ALL ourselves. To not can is a desecration of the fore mothers memories. It's besmirching the very core of who I am. It''s just not ok.
So where does this leave me? Smack in the middle of a kitchen surrounded by freshly made salsa, an additional 10 pounds of tomatoes and 20 pounds of pending dill pickles currently still masquerading as cucumbers. But wait - I have a heat source alternative to my range. I have a gas grill with a side burner! Gas rules, as we all know. I often bemoan the lack of natural or bottled gas. I advocated strongly for a gas range and clothes dryer for a while, but then Mr. Wonderful found out a.) how much it would cost and b.) how ugly the propane tanks are and I lost the war.
At 7:30 this morning I could be found on the deck, tongs in hand, water bubbling away, processing a total of 12 jars of salsa. Success to the intrepid canner. Eventual success. The first batch was not enjoyable as the wind picked up and I had to get creative with cookie sheets to slow air flow, and temperatures well below 60F, not to mention the damp morning air and the dew on every surface. But all's well that ends well in my little world. Pickles next...maybe tomorrow morning...

But meantime, knitting. I will assemble and finish the sweater shortly (literally, like now). It's Sugarloaf, for Webs, kid sizes up to a six I think if I remember right. The shawl is a present, but I can say this - Fiber Trends Baltic Sea Stole which I love and have already memorized, yarn is Sireno with 2 extra repeats cast on for gauge compensation. The aran looking thing is Everett silk from Webs, Rowan Classic Beach Driftwood totally altered gauge somehow, long story I still don't understand but now more fully respect the gauge imps lurking in my stash. I am down to two repeats of the cables with no dividing stitches which means the sleeves will have to be rewritten, which is no big but I wish it could be a no-brainer project. Which it could have been if I'd just plunked down the money for 23 balls of the Rowan stuff. But I just couldn't make myself do it. The Everett is a closeout for crying out loud. Can't say no to that.


Gammy aka Peggy said...

I haven't gotten to can for a number of years. But, I sure do enjoy it. I did get some blackberrie jam put up this year. You are an inspiration.

sophanne said...

Coming from not so great a tradition, I am totally in awe of the canners who work so hard this time of year.

I love the picture in my head of you canning at the grill.

Melissa said...

I love love love that sweater!!! What size is that one? ;)

The other projects look great as well!

As for the canning, I hear you. I grew up canning with my mother. We make corn relish, dill pickles and canned beans every year. :) Next year I'm going for "Homemaker of the Year" at the Franklin Fair. We'll see what happens. Good luck with the pickles!

MelissaKnits said...

Melissa - -
as a former homemaker of the year (I cried. I made Mr. Wonderful cry. It was a great moment. Ask Girl.) winner and long time round house entrant with a big ole stack o' FCAS ribbons, I shall offer you some unsolicited advice.
1.) Be diverse.
2.) Be current.
3.) Be thorough.

Yarnhog said...

I am duly impressed, both at your knowledge and your ingenuity. As one who bought my (glass)cooktop for the sole reason that it was the easiest to clean, I can safely say you are way out of my league.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with glass top stoves is that your cookware bottoms have to be absolutely flat. If they have ridges or are warped, there is little contact and so very little heat transfer. Bummer.

I applaud your ingenuity of using the grill.


mary alice said...

Stove- bummer.
Gas Grill- Yeah, all over that yankee inginuity (and inability to spell)
I just canned peaches and peach preserves from MY OWN FRIGGIN PEACH TREE!! she says modestly

Move to the city; find skunks, peaches and blackberries! Who knew?

Girl said...

man, work sucks. it's moments like these i wish i was a bum and didn't have a job. then i could help like i used to. there's something about canning that makes me all flashback-y.
lol, besides it would have been funny to see you out there with napolion. it's a shame tut wasn't out, she'd have hopped up next to you and given orders. :)

MelissaKnits said...

Two words, Girl -

Apple Season.

Persnickety said...

Yeah, my new-ish flat top stove takes much longer to boil than my old electric coil stove. Drives me crazy when making pasta. Hope you don't run out of propane while canning on your grill.

Cute little kid sweater.

Mary the Digital Knitter said...

I too am a canner, but not as ambitious as you. Pomegranate jelly is my specialty, but I've dabbled in ketchups and other sauces.

As the proud owner of a multi-burner gas grill with side burner, I have to ask one thing. Can't you use the entire grill, itself, for multiple hot pack pans?

That is to say, not just the side burner, but the grill itself. My grill came with a cast-iron griddle and pan, plus instructions on how to cook with them on the grill.

Amber said...

I was about to suggest a hot plate. But you definitely had a good idea, get all that heat and steam OUT of the kitchen!

That everett has been a close out off and on for years it seems, nifty "summer tweed" -esque stuff though if I remember :) Looks good!