I’m still alive, I swear!

Hey there, internet!  Long time no see!  That’s a lie, actually, I’m online pretty much constantly, but I haven’t been blogging, obviously.  I applied to, and was accepted into, and began taking classes in, the Gastronomy MLA program at Boston University, so life has been a little hectic.  Yes, I relocated to Boston, and I now spend my days studying everything related to food.  It’s been amazing and wild and fun and hectic and occasionally frustrating, but mostly wonderful.  The first semester is almost over and I’ve already learned so much.  It’s been an amazing experience.

I’ve also been canning!  And fermenting!  Especially fermenting, actually.  I’m now brewing kombucha and water kefir continuously.  I’ve made pickles, krauts, the aforementioned fermented beverages, kimchi, and even soy yogurt.  I’m quite possibly obsessed with fermentation.  In fact, I hardly did any canning this summer!  I made vanilla rhubarb jam, (not so dilly) beans, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, roasted onion and sage jam, two batches of beans, and that’s about it.  Oops.  It was a little much, moving during canning season.  This summer should be much more productive in that department.  I’m making it a goal to attempt to preserve a more significant portion of our food supply this coming year.  We have a wonderful farmer’s market in my neighborhood, so I’ll make sure I get there every week (or something close to it) to stock up on things and do large batches.  And I really need to make sure I can some tomatoes this summer.  Fortunately, Michael’s bosses are super cool Italian guys who grow and can their own tomatoes, so I’ve ended up with six quarts of those (two were just gifted to us, and four were bartered for cranberry sauce–it’s a pretty great life).

Anywho, now that I’m having food adventures regularly, I want to get back to writing about them.  I have two weeks of classes left for this semester, which means that I still have term papers to write, so I may be a bit quiet over the next couple of weeks, but then I’ll be on break and probably baking/canning/fermenting up a storm for Christmas gifts, so I should have a fair amount to say then.  I swear I’ll be back, though.  I’m alive.  I’m just buried under a stack of (virtual) textbooks.

New favorite snack:

Sauerkraut with pickled cranberries.  Seriously, this is amazing.

I declared the sauerkraut done about a week or so ago and have picked at it sporadically ever since.  It’s very tasty, but also very salty, so it’s been a “in small doses” kind of thing so far.  Today I wanted some, but knew I wanted to cut it with something sweet, and we’re all out of apples!  The solution?  That jar of pickled cranberries that’s been languishing in the fridge for a month.  Another tasty snack, but only in small doses.

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Look how beautiful! The pickled cranberries came from a recipe at Serious Eats by Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars.

10 Things To Do With Stale Bread

kellythecanner:

Tips on preserving bread, and what to do with it when it’s stale! So useful!

Originally posted on LOVE INFOGRAPHICS:

Stale bread — we’ve all been there. You know you’ve munched on a doughy, delicious new loaf, but somehow in the excitement you accidentally left the bread out, unsealed and on the counter overnight. The next morning it’s as hard as a rock. It’s warm doughy goodness may now be a distant memory, but don’t throw it out yet! Today’s infographic informs us that you can re-purpose and even rejuvenate your stale bread.

Read more @ http://dailyinfographic.com/10-things-to-do-with-stale-bread-infographic

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Not to count the chickens prematurely, but…

I just successfully pressure canned four pints of garbanzo beans!  Woooohoooo!

Last week, my mother sent me a new pressure canner as an early birthday present.  It’s a 23 quart Presto model, which is enormous but wonderful.  I just moments ago turned the heat off of the stove after a successful 75 minutes at 12 pounds of pressure (it was a little high the whole time–I was really aiming for 11–but better too high than too low).  Now I’m just going to let the canner depressurize over night and hope that they seal properly.  No explosions.  No scary safety vent action.  I’M SO EXCITED!

Also, my sauerkraut came out quite well.  I promise to post pictures later.  Now it’s time to go to bed!

Another list of thoughts

Sorry, I don’t have a proper post in me right now, but I do have some thoughts.  Here they are:

1.  I’m working on sauerkraut for the first time.  It’s on day five of fermentation right now.  Theoretically it’ll be ready on the 18th, but I’ll probably let it go longer for maximum tastiness.  This is my first experiment in fermentation.

2.  Speaking of fermentation, I think I want to try making kombucha.  I need to get my hands on a SCOBY, though.  Maybe I’ll ask Amanda at Phickle for one, since she’s local to me.

3.  I opened that last jar of herbed pickled asparagus tonight, and it’s soooo goooood!  I forgot how much I loved these.  I’m totally making multiple batches of this as soon as the asparagus starts popping up.

4.  My mother ordered me a new canner as a super early birthday present!  Yay!  I’ll have to give it a test run in the coming weeks.

5.  I baked some bread today and it was lovely.

6.  I’m obsessed with the idea of making tea jelly, but I’m out of half pint jars right now.  I officially gave away too many of them at Christmas.  =P  I’ll have to go buy some so I can do this.

That’s all for now!

I am officially terrified of my pressure canner

So last night’s foray into pressure canning went almost as badly as these things can go.  Almost.  No one got injured, so it wasn’t a complete disaster, but it was still pretty bad.  Here’s what happened.

I heated up my jars and cooked my beans, per the directions.  I filled the jars and got ready for processing.  I put the jars into the canner and locked on the lid.  Then I let the steam vent for 15 minutes, per the instructions.  And then I was too terrified to close the vent myself with the weighted gauge, so I got Michael to do it for me.  I have a hilarious photo of him in his “safety gear” because I spooked him so badly by being terrified of doing it myself.  I’ll post the photo later, I promise.  Then I waited a few minutes until the gauge started rocking.  That took about five minutes, and then I started the timer.  75 minutes of processing time.  I finally felt pretty relieved at this point, as nothing had blown up yet.  I just needed the pressure to maintain at that level for 75 minutes, and then let the canner cool (overnight, it was pretty late), and then I’d have tasty beans, yay!

Wrong.  So I stayed in the kitchen the whole time just to make sure the gauge was still rocking, so I could know for sure the pressure stayed at the right level.  Unfortunately, at about the 50 minute mark, the canner dropped pressure.  The weight wasn’t rocking anymore.  I wasn’t really sure what to do.  I emailed the lovely Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars about the issue, and she suggested it might be an issue with the gasket.  I turned up the heat on the stove to try to bring the pressure back up.  It worked for a few minutes, but then the pressure dropped again.  I turned the heat up again.  Same thing.  And then my safety vent blew and steam shot out of it like a volcano.  That is not an exaggeration.

So, that was terrifying.  Turns out the gasket was cracked.  I’ve decided to replace my canner, however.  I’ve had a few too many terrifying experiences with this one.  Yikes.