Thursday, August 30, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

I have been canning fruits and vegetables as long as I can remember. Even before I left home I worked at it side by side with my mom. People always tell me it is too hard and too time consuming. I don't think it is hard at all. And the joy you get when you open up a jar of garden tomatoes that you canned over the summer... well your palate and your family will love you!. I have given a step by step direction that anyone can follow :) Ready? Let's go can some tomatoes!
 First you get your tomatoes and make sure they are free from blemishes. And even if you got them from a herbal market still wash them in cold water.
 Next get your station ready so everything is in it's place. Once you get started is not the time to go running around looking for your tomato knife!! You will need a large canner or pot to boil water in. No we are not delivering any babies! You will then need another large pot or bowl and fill it with ice water. Last you will need a bowl or container for your skins that you will peel off. Have your jars open, clean and ready to fill
Make sure you pick tomatoes that are still a bit orangey red. If too red they are too ripe and will turn into mush in the jars. Keep the soft over ripe ones for the tomato sauce. 
 Get your first pot boiling
Add only a few tomatoes at a time otherwise the tomatoes will start the cooking process! Leave them in the boiling water for a count of 60...
Then immediately plunge them in the ice water to prevent them from continuing to cook. The skins will come off very easily. If they do not it is because they did not stay in the boiling water long enough.
 Start people those babies!!
 Who says you can't have fun canning? it is easier then peeling an orange!Make sure you take the stem part out of the tomatoes
 This is a canning funnel!. No you cannot just use your husband's funnel that he uses in the shop. You can get this particular set at Zellers, Walmart and most department stores. It is made for canning jars and fits all of them
 1/2 tsp salt in each jar then boiling water up to 1/2" from the top Wipe the lid off then place the ring and sealer on each jar and almost on the home stretch now!
 Here is the 2nd of the 3 doodads that I was telling you that come in the set. The top one is a air releaser. You place it in the side of the jar to release bubbles :)
 Last of the 3 items.. this is a jar lifter out of the canner. And kudos to you if you can lift the jars out without using it and without burning your fingers on the boiling water!!!

 Get the canner going as soon as you can enjoy dinner! You want to can in the water boil method which is to make sure they jars are covered with boiling water.
Place jars on lifter. All canners come equipped with one. You do not want to put the jars directly on the bottom of the pot as they will break. It also helps when you want to get the jars out.
 10 little jars sitting in a row, all canned stewed tomatoes!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Canning and Gardening

Lately I have getting a lot of "flack" (although most were done with love).. there were some that came my way that when I post my accomplishments online it is to toot my own horn and to make others feel bad that I do more then they do and that I am making them feel quilt. Well first of all no one can make anyone else feel anything else. We are all in control of our own emotions and can change them at our will. No one can make you FEEL guilty. You and you alone are in control of how you feel.

Having said that, I just want to go onto my defense. There are three things that I love to do in my role as a homemaker. These things calm me, they zen me, when I do these things I go to a calm place in my mind... when I am stressed I will go to one or more of these three things to calm down.

These three things are ironing clothes, sewing clothes, canning and gardening. I love going into my closet and seeing our clothes all nicely ironed and hanging neatly, seeing things I have made; I love going into our pantry and seeing jars and jars of preserved foods. Our church leaders have always encouraged us to have a year's food storage in place for times of needs. I have been doing this since I can remember. and believe me when I tell over 30 years of being together we have had those time of need several times!

Most people do things that love when they want to a book...have a bubblebath, watch tv, sit in their hot tub, play games, etc etc..for me when I want to relax I iron, or I garden or I deal with the stuff from my garden and if it is in mid season, I work on planning my garden as I companion plant so I know which vegetables grow best with what vegetable.

When I can or preserve my food it gives me a sense of peace, a sense that I am helping provide for my family even if it is just Keith and I here. It gives me a great sense of pride when I see our pantry shelves filled with food I grew. Is it a lot of work right now? Yup of course it is. That is because food grown all tend to be ready to be picked at the same time. Because of all the rain we had this spring the fruit is really late in being harvested so fruit I normally would have canned in July I am having to do now with the vegetables. But I don't care. When it is January and everyone is having to pay an arm and a leg to eat peaches I can open a jar and just sail away in the aroma of fresh Okanagan peaches.

I have been canning so long that I can do it in my sleep. I can do it with one hand tied behind my back. When I work on it I don't think of how tired I am, I don't think of how sore my back or my hips are, I don't think of Keith and his claim with the government or the fact that he has been off of work for over 2 years. I can vegetate (no pun intended) on what I am doing. I can't be worrying about what is going on in our lives because I have to concentrate on that I am doing...each canner has to be timed, jars have to come out at the exact moment or the food gets processed too long....if I am multitasking such as doing cucumbers in the sink and have peaches on the stove, and beets in the pressure canner I have to be able to concentrate on what I am doing so nothing gets wasted.

So you see....doing this really does relax me, it has a calming effect on me. If after reading my explanations here and still feel I am posting my accomplishments to show you how much more I do with my day then you do and you still feel guilty please feel free to take me off your friends list so I no longer have the power to annoy you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Run for the Cure 2013, Surrey, Me and Sadness

Everyone knows that Vancouver hosts the Run for the Cure each year and has done so since day 1. What you may not know is that starting next year Surrey (where I live) will be hosting its own run as well. How exciting!!!! 4-6 weeks ago an email went out to all runners letting them know of this new chapter and that they were looking for Co-Directors. My first thought was YES but then I thought of everything else on my plate and thought nah better not.. Then I got an email from them personally asking if I would be interested. I figured what the must be in the I said yes that I would send them my resume and an interview was set up weeks ago. A couple of days before my interview Keith had his accident so I postponed it till this morning. This whole week that still small voice kept niggling at the back of my brain telling me to rethink this but my inside voice kept saying shuuuushhh. This would be such an accomplishment!! Talk about groundbreaking processes. It is just as important of a job to be the Director of the Vancouver one (it is a 2 year position) but anyone stepping into the job already has half the work done although it is still such a huge undertaking...the site is already in place, the Vancouver sponsors are in place etc etc... to have it in Surrey means everything has to be started from scratch. You would co chair with another Director. One would be for logistics- finding the site, sponsors, security, equipment, tents, tables etc etc, the other would be for Fundraising and Staffing.With my experience of doing the Yard Sale for the Cure last year it was right up my alley I love being creative. I love taking challenges and turning them into a finished product where I can look at it and think I did that. Even if it is just canning my fruits and vegetables that I am surrounded with now..I like looking at my full shelves and know all my hard work paid off. I hate it when people tell me to slow down. Slow down to do what?Become a couch potato? Play computer games? Read books all day long? That may be ok for some people and I am not in any way pointing fingers at anyone who does this...this is about me and I choose not to be that way. I live with 2 disabilities and I know my limits. I know if I sit still my muscles seize, my spine seizes and then I am laid up for days. I know by remaining active I am living a comfortable life with my pain. All week as my interview got closer and closer (this morning) that still small voice got louder and more frequent. Last night I became physically sick in the middle of the night and I didn't even question it. I got online and emailed the person that I had been communicating with. I told her what had been going on with my husband and that right now my focus needed to be with him 100% and that if I took this job on I would not be able to do it. I asked that she forgive me for the lateness of letting them know and told her that I would love to help out in smaller ways. I thought for sure they would be angry with me, that they would think that they could have had someone else in place for the last month but she emailed me back this morning with a beautifully touching letter. She said she totally understood, that she had been one of the Vancouver Directors before and knows how time consuming it was and that she thanked me for telling her now and not next year when I became overwhelmed and had to back out at the last minute. She asked if it was ok if they put me on one of the committee's that would still be a part of the day to day detailing but to not the extent of the Director's position!! I was very happy with that. When I look back at my husband I think of all he has sacrificed for me over the years and it shouldn't even have been an issue in my head. I am thankful for that still small voice that guided me to make the right decision. I have family back home that are not doing well and when Keith is finally settled I want to go back and spend some time with them and I would not have been able to do that right now with this new job. So although I am sad somewhat about it, I am happy that I did listen (although it would be nice if that still small voice could be as loud as my inside voice!!). Keith is my whole life. Without him I have nothing. I will be crossing that finish line in Surrey in 2013 though and am looking forward to being a part of this huge excitement!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Conversation with a 2 year old

One of our sons was over with his family today and his family comes equipped with a very vocal 2 year old. I just happened to ask him how his day was and if he went to Nursery (where children from 18 months to 3 years of age go at our church kind of like pre-school sort of). And this was his answer..sometimes it's just better to not ask heehee Hey Pumpkin how was your day did you go to Nursery today? Yup but Auntie Lala no there (his Auntie Lareta is one of the nursery leaders) I sad but I had treats What did you have for treats? uh uh uh messy berries uh uh uh lots of them (Strawberries Mommy tells me according to the red stains on his white shirt) Did you have play time in Nursery? Yup but no Auntie Lala I sad Did you have story time and singing time in Nursery? Yup but no Auntie Lala I sad ( I think I figured that already ) So what did you do yesterday? I go baseball game and had big BOOM BOOM and La Lean scared but I no scared I big boy and BOOM BOOM (said quite emphatically in case I didn't hear how loud it was the other time he told me)and big slide and Dadda no picture big slide Nana and cucumber man and apples and I throw apples but Mama said no but Dadda throw apples but Momma said no then cucumber man then Nana I got beet Nana a beet I got a beet Did you get some beets in the garden yesterday? Yes a beet and a cucumber man and big BOOMBOOM but I no scared I get you an apple no bugs on apples Nana I get apples and big BOOMBOOM (as he gets me an apple from the bag they brought over for me) Do you want me to cut an apple for you Conall? Yup but no bugs on apple Nana..ok no bugs Conall I hep Nana I need chair I hep Nana No it's ok Sweetheart Nana is all done peeling your apple I get nudder apple Nana (as he hurries to the bag and brings me another one for me) Nana no bugs in apples (Obviously parents must have been talking about making sure they did not pick apples that had worm holes through them) So what else did you do yesterday? (as we munch on the apples) I go baseball game and go down the slide and big BOOMBOOM (fireworks) It was dark and I go nite nite then go to church and sing song and have bread and water and play with cars then I go to Nursery with Nana but Auntie Lala not there I sad..Auntee Lala all gone! She'll be back soon she is gone camping in a tent.. yeaaaa we camping... uhhhh no just Auntie Lareta went camping and Kloie and baby Jazymm? Yes and Senthia and Britnee and latitia and Darien and Miranda and Uncle Curt but not Conall and Lelean? (Rosaleen) No just Auntie Lareta's family Auntie Lala not there I sad I think he misses his Auntie Lareta :-D