I feel like I have not had a break in ages, although all the things I’m not getting a break from are fun and/or relaxing. My birthday adventure turned out to be a trip to Big Bear (!!!). It was hot up there, but not nearly as hot as it was in Redlands (which reached 103, I believe). SUCH a good idea. Brian and I wore ourselves out hiking in the morning, and then decided that we did not want to venture out for dinner. Instead, I cooked ribs and artichokes on the grill in our little condo, and they turned out AMAZING. Brian made me a Funfetti cake, which is my favorite, and we rented a movie. On day 2, we visited the Big Bear Museum – best thing EVER! – and then loafed around until it was probably time to come home and get ready for the week.
I am now frantically trying to get all the laundry done before I have to pack for Massachusetts. I ran all the errands for Dramamine and gum last night, the turmeric cooking stain has come out of my white pants, and I have an official packing list. So I’m feeling pretty accomplished. I mostly just have to put things in suitcases at this point. We’re going to take the train into LAX on Friday morning, which will make our trip out an epic journey. But by some miracle, our flight is direct. Crazy, right?
I am so thrilled to be going. I don’t get to see that side of the family nearly enough. Plus Plimoth Plantation. My love for that place is embarrassing in its effulgence, so I try to keep it cool. Which, of course, never works.
I am excited for a fairly free weekend upon returning, too. At Brian’s grandfather’s 90th birthday, a cousin of his brought a large manila envelope filled with canning books.
“Does anyone can?” she asked.
“Casey does!” said Brian.
I tried to protest that, because I wasn’t officially a blood member of the family, if anyone else wanted them they had first dibs. But it seemed no one else did. When I opened the envelope later, it was this treasure trove of amazingness. There are instructions from the 1970s on how to make a home fruit dryer. There is a cookbook from the 1950s that is full of how to can meats and vegetables, complete with revolting recipes in the back telling you what to do with all that canned meat. There are clippings from the newspaper with recipes for lye soaps. But my favorite is the cookbook from the 1940s. It extolls the virtues of canning for Victory (yes, with a capital V), and informs you that the wide-mouth jars best for fruit preparations are unavailable in wartime, but that you should look out for them afterward.
Minted pears, fruit leather, chutneys made from oranges and pineapple, tomato sauce, chicken soup, olives… it’s all in there. Anything you can think of wanting, and several things you never would have thought of but must have immediately. I got SO excited.
The only problem? I didn’t really have the equipment. The pot I have is smallish, fine for ½ pint jars, but no good for the big ones. The water wouldn’t cover them all the way. I also didn’t own a jar lifter to grab them out of the boiling water. I sighed, and figured I would buy a jar lifter and some small jars and see what I could do with what I had.
Brian fixed all of that with my birthday gift. I now have ALL THE THINGS, a nice big pot with a rack that fits perfectly in the bottom, a small spatula with a ruler on the end so I can measure headspace easily, a magnetic lid placer, a lid tightener, a jar lifter, a super wide mouthed funnel… even extra jars. There is nothing I’m wanting. There will be no “making due,” because I have it all.
The only problem I see now is what to do with all the copious quarts of yummy things I’m going to have in jars around the house. That is, however, a problem I’m willing to tackle. With a spoon.