Wednesday, August 18, 2010

kerr for your balls (i need more jars)

i was almost certain the cucumbers would do nothing this year, but i’ve gotten two pickling cukes so far.

my mom helped me make a single jar of sweet pickle relish with one of them. this was totally unplanned--we were making pickled peppers and there was a bit of pickling stuff left over, and i realized i had a cucumber and some wonderful onions from the farmer’s market, along with garlic and peppers and all the necessary seasonings, so we went for it.

i entered both the pickled peppers and relish in the fair, but they don’t look like winners to me. i think the only chance i have is with the fruit spreads, and even with those it's so iffy...i'm still a total novice, competing against rural grandmothers and suchlike who *really* know their shit, so i feel like an underdog. mom and i dropped off our entries on monday and we’re going to the fair together friday evening--it works out perfectly because i’m temping for her again this week, so we can leave together directly from work.

she entered ten beautiful flavored vinegars and one jar of watermelon pickles.

last week when my cousin kelly was here i took her out foraging and together we picked 2.75lbs of blackberries. that evening on the greenbelt i met another hardcore foraging person! her name is amy and she’s desperate to go out foraging with me, so we exchanged numbers, and we must’ve stood there chatting excitedly about wild foods for twenty minutes or more. she’s especially into the exotics, not so much the normal stuff you can find at the store...she’s even done mushrooms. picked them, i mean. she got super excited when i told her about making dandelion jelly.
i turned a good portion of the blackberries into one of my favorite jams. i know a lot of people are turned off by the seeds, but i love them.

i made cute labels for most of my state fair entries using photos i shot of the ingredients. i cropped the photos to 8x10 and reduced opacity to about 50%, then added text on top.

i ended up with 10 different canned foods to enter. and no photos! i’ve been so busy i didn’t manage to get any photos printed, which really bums me out. for one thing it’s tradition, and it’s a lot of fun entering stuff in the fair, but mostly it’s nice because this event is about the only thing that motivates me to have my photos printed and mounted, and afterwards i get to hang them up on display at home. not this year. oh well.

these wonderful red cherry plums just ripened the other day. i picked about 2.5lbs. haven’t decided what to do with them yet, but i have been hankerin’ for some pie lately, so maybe that. i think i have enough preserves now to last about a decade...i made another six jars of apricot jam using some locally-grown apricots i was gifted (although these weren’t nearly as nice as the ones i picked). add that to the six jars of blackberry and one jar each of peppers and relish, and my grand total is now up to 58 jars. i’ve given away a lot, and i plan to give away a ton more, but i must admit it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous.

while my cousin and uncle were visiting we went out (my dad too, and andy) and took a long nighttime walk during the meteor shower. i spotted a field i hadn’t seen before, filled with little wild sunflowers.

so a few days later i came back with scissors, and a canvas bag hanging from my handlebars with a jar of water propped up in the bottom--a really smart way to transport cut flowers by bike, except when you use a jar with too wide a mouth and it tips and spills all over your feet on the way home. lesson learned.

this field is an out-of-the-way spot that isn’t very visible from the road, plus it’s sort of a construction area so these plants could get flattened any day, plus i took only a tiny, tiny fraction of the flowers so there were plenty left for people and insects to enjoy...otherwise i’d feel guilty about taking them. picking flowers is not like picking fruit. entirely different ethical considerations.

but aren’t they lovely? rather than putting them all in one large vase i split them up into multiple little containers and placed them all around the house.


geekette said...

spoonay are you going to take me forraging with you? i'm sounds so fun! i found a bunch of morrel mushrooms last summer camping, but have never had too much luck with berries and things...

GoneferalinID said...

What are watermelon pickles? Where at the fair will your stuff be? I'm going Sat afternoon with friends to see the goats. Good luck to you and your mom!

Emily said...

yes spoonay! i'm busy the rest of this week/weekend but we should go next week sometime.

goneferal--thank you! our stuff will be in the culinary arts department inside the expo building. i think if you walk in the first set of doors (first from the fair entrance) the displays will be on the left. watermelon pickles = watermelon rinds cooked in a sorta sweet, spiced pickling liquid. not so tasty in my opinion but my dad loves them. have fun looking at goats!

Vetsy said...

Emily when my mother was a little girl her grandmother made her watermelon pickles..

I have never seen or tasted pickled melons I bet they are delicious!

Learning how to can foods with your mom I bet is a lot of fun"

It's something my mother wished she had learned from her grandmother, but as a little girl she was not allowed in the kitchen and by the time she was a teen she lost interest...

I'd like to try my hand at canning one day with my mom just for the fun of it, and hope that we can make things that look as pretty and taste as nice as yours and your mothers" I hope you both enjoyed your day at the fair.

Katherine said...

I'm home and hopelessly overwhelmed with summer projects I left behind...all kinds of empty jars over here. Don't know when I'll get out picking this week, I have just one class every day at 4 though, should be doable soon.

Lilu's having all her teeth out (!!) on Thursday, so I'll probably spend all day Friday at home or nearby - maybe duck out to the local thrift for an hour or two. Want to come have tea?

I'm so glad you re-jelled the Dandelion, it sounds fantastic.

Emily said...

thank you vetsy! i hope you do give canning a try with your mom. i think the most important thing is just trying, whether you really know what you're doing or not. it's the sort of thing that needs to be learned hands-on.

katherine--oh no, poor lilu! that's so sad. i'd love to come hang out on friday.