Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about a conversation I had with my vivacious friend Suzette on Saturday night. Suzette and her friend Jim came into the gallery where I work, and this is how she introduced me:
“Jim, this is my friend Kristabel. She works here and she writes this great blog called Chocolate Covered Xanax, and it’s really funny, and she talks about stuff like food and love and drinking and sex. I mean, she used to.”
And to me (loudly): “Why don’t you write about the good stuff anymore? I keep waiting for you to leave another dildo out on your counter or something, and it just doesn’t happen. Honey – you really need to drink more.”
Nothing like a loud embarrassing reality check to get a girl motivated. And she’s right. Things are a bit sedate around Casa de Xanax these days. Just today I ran upstairs to grab a bottle of lube – only because I thought an egg was stuck in one of my chickens, and I was going to have to perform an extraction. So my promise, dear readers, is that by January 1, I will live blog my one last bender of 2011 and tart it up with some Saturday night smut.
But back to my pantry.
Mark and I have done a lot of canning this year. There’s something beautiful about growing your own food or purchasing it from a local farmer or raiding your uncle’s orchard or gleaning a field, and with a few simple steps, turning it into a jam or a relish or a pickle that you can enjoy all winter long. It’s magical. Alright, I know that it’s really science, but it feels like magic.
For me, not only is preserving food fun, economical and magical – it’s important. Food security, self-sufficiency and community sustainability are much bigger topics than I want to delve into right now, but let’s just say that being reliant on big agribusiness scares the hell out of me.
If you’ve never canned before, don’t let the thought of killing your friends and family with botulism stop you. That can only happen if you improperly can low acid foods like vegetables or tuna. The high acid foods like fruit and pickles can’t give anyone botulism. Plus, if they’re bad they smell funny and probably look weird too. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
The easiest way to learn is just to grab a good book or find a step-by-step website , start with something simple and go for it. There are a few pieces of equipment you need, but if you don’t have all the fancy canning stuff, don’t worry about it. Just use a large stockpot with a cooling rack inside and the kitchen tools you have on hand.
The party in my pantry now includes bread and butter pickles, chunky applesauce, pickled garlic, peach jam, spicy pickled carrots and caramelized red onion relish. They’re all absolutely delicious. I can’t wait until local citrus hits the markets. I plan to preserve some lemon curd and and marmalade too.
Homemade delectables also make great gifts. We meant to save ours for the holidays, but it’s hard to wait that long when you just want to share the joy.
Is there a party in your pantry? I’d love to hear about it.