So it may not come to a surprise to anyone that the Mr and I have had a lot change in our life in the last year. We moved up to Washington, we live on a farm, we own goats and sheep and various tasty birds, and frankly, our food is different too. It’s not something we planned. I wasn’t all “I’m living on a farm(ish) now and I’m going to eat local, from the earth, with out pesticides, bla bla BLAH!” No. I’m really not that person. I’m not an activist but I do have opinions.
opinion one, I believe in supporting your local community. If you live in the city, well, shop at places owned by people who LIVE in that city. In the country, it’s supporting your neighbor, it’s shopping at the produce stands, and buying livestock for slaughter from the 4H and FFA kids. You know what you get out of shopping local? Damn good food. Damn fine quality food, and, well, lots of it.
Remember when I was looking for a chest freezer because the Mr had bought 2 lambs and a hog at the junior livestock auction? I don’t think anyone here said anything but on twitter and facebook and google+ everyone was all “You don’t need a 24 sq ft freezer! Your insane! It’s too much space!” Well, I didn’t get the 24 sq ft because someone at Lowe’s screwed up and crushed it and it would take another month to have the same one delivered. So I went for the one they had in stock, a 21 sq ft stand up freezer. And then the meat came…
And I filled it. It’s not 100% crammed but, as you can see, it’s full. Next year we are going to split a steer with one of the Mr’s partners so we are probably going to need another freezer.
The next thing I did was buy at the local canning event at my farm store. This was the first year they had hosted this and frankly, I don’t think they expected the turn out. They were supposed to have 2 kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, pears, apples, peaches, peppers, hot chilis, and onions. It was kind of a mob scene. I arrived 30 minutes after they opened and all they had left were tomatoes (maybe 5 boxes,) and cucumbers. I grabbed up 3 boxes of each and headed home.
One thing I didn’t realize until I got there was that each of those boxes are 20 pounds each. I had 60 pounds of tomatoes! Good thing I was planning on making tomato sauce!
I skinned, chopped, and cooked down 40 pounds of tomatoes all by myself. The Mr helped with the middle 20 which was fun and nice. I usually do all this while he’s at work so he only comes home to a finished product.
There are some things I learned about pealing and seeding tomatoes. 1. pealing is easy when you blanch the pants off the tomato, 2. there is something inherently dirty (as in mind in the gutter) about seeding a tomato. If you’ve never done it you should and you’d get what I’m saying. It is akin to certain body parts and I’ll leave it there. Apparently I’m really a 12 year old little boy and find everything funny and dirty.
So I used a basic recipe and then edited to taste. The Mr bought me a food processor and I ground down the tomatoes into sauce and ended up with 22 quart jars and 1 pint. It was exhausting and amazing and I’m so glad I did it!
Can you see how happy I am? I am insanely happy with my jars! We saved a little bit of it and had an amazing pasta dinner. I can’t even convey how amazing it was! AMAZING!!!
Next up was pickles. This was easier and faster than the tomatoes. The 60 pounds were done all in one day and I rammed them into half gallon jars whole.
Why yes, that is a whole lot of cucumbers!
One thing no recipe besides this one says about canning pickles is that you have to cram those pickles into these jars. Don’t be wimpy, don’t leave any room because as soon as you can you will magically have more room! How annoying! So I stuffed these cucumbers, and I crammed them, and wedged and shoved and cursed these cucs into these jars. I also remembered something I knew already. I have large hands. Even these wide mouth jars scraped the skin off my knuckles 😦 Now I have sad blister hands but I do have an amazing amount of pickles!
And since I am never done, the next day I decided to use up the myer lemons I had bought at costco and turn them into myer lemon marmalade! The recipe was a little fiddly when it didn’t have to be but the results were great.
It’s like lemonade for your toast!
Then, because I had a few lemons left over I decided to try something else. I decided that if this was like lemonade for you toast what about RASPBERRY lemonade? So I took the same Myer Lemon recipe and added raspberries.
By far one of the most awesome things I’ve improvised!
I’m still canning. I still have more apples, pears, and plums to pick!