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Belt and Suspenders

Snowed In? No Power? Cook With Your Grill!

As promised! True to my word! At one point over the past week, there were probably a half a million people either unable to leave their homes, travel, and/or had no power because of snow storms in the area between Virginia and New Jersey. Sitting home in the cold and the dark is bad enough; if you are running your kitchen on electricity, it’s cold, dark and hungry too. (and there is that whole ‘how long is the food going to last in the fridge and the freezer?’ thing) (more…)

The Exploding Pressure Canner and Other Kitchen Myths

Well, I certainly opened up the floodgates for folks with the ‘my grandmother told me about the time she just left the kitchen ‘for a moment’ and her pressure canner exploded and cousin CindyLou got burned and the windows blew out and she never used a pressure canner ever again’ stories.

The business end of these tales usually involve the fact that it’s someone’s grandmother – who was canning in 1925, using the dial canner technology of the time…was not watching the damn canner (and did not ‘leave for a moment’ – but actually went outside to yell at one of the other kids – and had to chase the dog out of the garden and then decided to pick some corn for supper and so on)…and Cousin CindyLou got burned – because she opened the top or took the weight off the vent tube before things were cold inside. As for the windows blowing out – well, Aunt Toby suspects that there is a little bit of dramatic license being taken there to justify the fact that they never used the pressure canner again.

I think there is also this tremendous number of people out there who would like to can but who are terrified that they will blow up the house. Folks – it ain’t 1925. (more…)

Introduction to Canning

So, you want to get started with canning. When the DH and I were first married, we lived in a house that did not have a freezer and the freezer in the fridge was teeny. How could we put food by? We got a book, bought some equipment and got into the ‘pick yer own/ can yer own’ thing. Someplace in the house is a photograph of our kitchen table, so overburdened with jars of canned stuff that it was bowed down in the middle. We didn’t have a lot of cupboard space, either so we used to store all the boxes of the canned goods under the bed. There is truly no feeling so secure as lying in bed while there is a blizzard going on outside and you know that you have at least enough food to probably last you until spring.

So, what can you put into a jar and process vs. what doesn’t work really well processed in a jar? (more…)

Be Prepared! Introduction to Anxiety Reduction, Part One

This is the time of the year when all sorts of wonderful things pop up: plants in the garden, farmers markets, bugs. This is also the time of the year when some not so wonderful things pop up: thunderstorms, major weather systems with wind, hail, tornadoes and hurricanes. And when your area gets hit with one of these (and we can almost always bet money on that one, no matter where you live), there is a chance, even if remote, that your living unit is going to either suffer damage or lose power or both.

Aunt Toby, the DH and all the little Chez Siberians(who are not longer so little, nor are they in residence), have experienced this. Thunderstorms that knocked power out for hours. Ice storms in the winter that have snapped trees in half on top of power lines and left us without power to run the blower on the furnace for days at a time. Gentlemen at the control of backhoes who..well, we won’t talk about the whole ‘call before you dig’ from people who won’t.

The results are the same. No power. (more…)

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