Monday, August 17, 2009

Ah Ah Ah Ah, Stayin' Alive (While Canning)

It's Tasty Tuesday time! Visit the always fabulous Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam to see what's cooking there! You won't be disappointed...there are always plenty of great recipes to choose from.

I have a pretty great mother-in-law, judging from current standards. Mom T never tells me what to do, she doesn't complain or nag, and she's always willing to lend an ear and offer (good!) advice when asked. She also never seems to mind teaching me how to do things.

Like canning. The results of my lesson last week were mixed in that the product turned out great, but I almost killed myself and was insulted by the mail lady. More about that later. Trust me, you'll want to read this. If you're having a bad day, I promise I don't mind you laughing at my misery.

We started with my harvest of Roma tomatoes from my little garden, which is made up of three Roma tomato plants, one beefeater tomato plant, and three thyme plants. The tomatoes are plentiful, and I haven't done anything to deserve it. I felt quite guilty about the bountiful harvest.
First we boiled the tomatoes in a large pot for several minutes.

After placing the tomatoes in a bowl and pouring cold water over them, we inserted a knife near the top of each tomato and made a little circle cut around the stem. The stems and cores ripped right out, and the skins fell right off!

This is what the bowl looked like after the tomatoes had been cored and skinned:

Into the blender on puree!

Then we sifted the sauce to remove all those pesky golden seeds.

Back into the pot to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or so.

We added a packet of seasoning put together by a friend. You could easily add your own oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and marjoram.

It was about this time that I ran outside to check the mail. The mail lady was just leaving and turned to wave.

"When's the baby due?" she called.

I glanced down. I was wearing my grandmother's "halfsy" apron tied up under my arm pits since I let Mom T borrow the apron that covers the entire torso.

"I'm not pregnant. I'm just fat. And it's this apron." I replied flatly.

The poor mail lady just stuttered and stammered, and I almost felt bad for her, but then I remembered that she had just called me fat, so I just went back inside instead.

To add injury to insult (yes, I meant it backwards), I was leaning over the stove to stir the pot, not realizing that the front eye was on.

Mom T smelled the burning before I felt it.

My apron was in flames.

My first thought?

"My camera!" (I had it in the case over my shoulder)

Natalie stood there with her mouth hanging open, while Mom T yelled to see if I was okay, while I beat the flames out with my bare hands.

What happened to stop, drop, and roll?

I guess I didn't want to break my camera.

This is what my grandmother's poor, handmade, vintage apron looks like now. There was a piece stuck to the ceiling too. I have some small burns on my hands, but nothing tragic. I truly am lucky that my shirt didn't catch fire...because the apron was tied up under my arm pits, my face would have been toast. I've had some kitchen accidents before (blew up a biscuit in my mom's microwave when I was in 4th grade, set fire to her recipe box in high school...), but I've never set fire to myself before.

Even worse, I got a lecture on fire safety from a three year old.

"You need to be careful, Mommy." Natalie informed me in her most serious voice. "We don't play with fire."

I'll remember that.

Then, "Who is going to clean up this floor?" (pointing at the burned up, charred pieces of my favorite apron on the floor)

Gritting my teeth. I'll get right on that.

Moving on....

We boiled the lids of our Ball jars.

You're also supposed to run your finger over the rim of each jar to be sure there are no bumps or cracks, otherwise they won't seal.

After we poured the sauce in, Mom T wiped the rim again to clean it up.

Close those lids tightly!

Sit the cans in some water inside the steamer.

Lock 'em up! They sat in the pressure cooker for 25 minutes or so. I believe they were under 5 pounds of pressure.

Voila! Finished product. They are kind of watery because nothing has been added to them yet.

When I'm ready to use them, I'll add tomato paste to thicken them up, meat, vegetables, and my own spices.

Did you enjoy this little lesson in canning? It's not hard at all, but it is time consuming. It goes by much more quickly with two people!

I hope you found some humor in my catastrophe.

You can stop laughing now!

{Bon Appetit!}

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  1. glad you survived, my little kitchen diva!! :D if you have any more abundance of romas, i'd be happy to divest you of some!!

  2. Hey Amanda,
    It was good to see you in Jam lat week. I'm glad you're okay!
    I caught my robe on fire while I was making french toast about 6 years ago. I was in my little studio apartment in Crystal City and had never used a gas stove. The sleeve of my robe, then the tie that goes around the waist caught on fire. Thankfully, it mostly smoldered because it was polyester. For some reason, I went from the kitchen, which had linoleum, to the living room carpet to roll around on the ground. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't fan the flames by running in the other room or catch the carpet on fire. The robe was blue but had burn spots so I ended up letting my parent's dog use it as padding on her blanket.

  3. which grandmother's apron was that? and how did YOU get it?

  4. Oh my goodness, you had quite an adventure with your canning. Thank goodness that you weren't seriously hurt by catching your apron on fire. This winter when you open one of your jars of tomatoes you'll be glad you put in a few hours of work to can them. I did five jars on Sunday and it took forever.

  5. Do you think you could make an applique to cover the burned portion of that that is monogrammed to say "Smokey Bear says, don't mess with fire????"....LOL..what a funny story and what a great return on your gardening investment!!! Way to go!


  6. Sounds like an I Love Lucy episode. MIL had shared some of this with me. Canning can be dangerous, huh? Glad to hear you are fine.

  7. i love your stories so much. i ALWAYS get a good laugh when i stop by.

    what a great tutorial! pure enjoyment & excellent photos.
    so sad about your apron, though.

    saw alison's comment. i think you're in big trouble. i have 4 sisters & i've been there, hah.

  8. so impressed that you tried this!

  9. Alison, I'll give you two guesses who gave it to me. Here's a hint: Laural Lane.

  10. I enjoyed this post! Too much fun. I used to can but kind of gave up on it. This looks so good it's making me think I should give it a try again.

  11. Now I will be singing staying alive all day long..thank you very much hehe~

  12. Hi Amanda,
    This post is amazing! Informative, hilarious, touching, terrifying (the fire), sad (damage to the vintage apron with sentimental value), and ... ultimately triumphant ... your end product appears to be a great success!

  13. Oh my goodness! I was all into the canning process (having never canned before myself) and then you added all of the "stayin alive" parts! Here I thought you were just listening to music while canning!

    Darn apron...making you appear pregnant! I think it may have been time to burn it! ;) (So sorry that your heirloom was destroyed though!!)

  14. Yes, canning takes quite a while to do, but the results sure are tasty!

    Glad you didn't get hurt.

  15. They look beautiful, and you earned a lot of joy from the experience! :) I once caught my hair on fire. Sounds like you are blessed with a great Mother in Law!

  16. I definitely expected a story about the pressure cooker top to blow up through the ceiling or something. Catching on fire is still pretty exciting though...:)

  17. Sorry, but I did laugh - sounds exactly like something that could have happened to me! The poor apron! At least you came through it all with a great story and some beautiful looking tomato sauce!

  18. I've always wanted to try canning at home, but A: I have the opposite of a green thumb (black thumb?) and would never be able to grow all those beautiful tomatoes, and B: I'm afraid I wouldn't do the canning right, and would therefore poison family and friends with botchulism or something equally as terrifying.

    Anyway, isn't it some kind of unspoken rule that you're NEVER supposed to ask if someone's preggo unless they are clearly in labor and/or delivering the baby right in front of you?! Shame on her ;)

  19. girl, you're a hot mess! totally pun intended :0)

  20. The important thing is that the baby was okay. (yes I know) I'm just kidding.

  21. wow what a story....
    This summer has been so crazy that I have not visited some of my favorite blogs often enough.

  22. I'm so glad you didn't get seriously hurt, but c'mon, if you're gonna start yourself on fire, at least get a hunky fireman rescue out of it!

    I HATE canning! But I need to be better about doing it. This post reminded me of the dozens and dozens of jars of Salsa we do every year. Have I mentioned I hate canning?

    So sorry about your apron. Love ya!

  23. Wow, wow, wow!!! So glad you weren't seriously hurt! The sauce looks great & I think Natalie's little lecture was just too funny. Take care in the kitchen girl.

  24. I am so glad you didn't get burned worse and sorry for the latest apron look (I know you can buy jeans with holes in them...maybe you just started a new fashion statement.)

    I'm glad Natalie lectured you...shows she knows this was an accident and not just a show you were performing for her.

    P.S. The sauce looks great ;)


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