Breakfast of Champions (…who like spices)

I have not been able to prove it yet, but I am sure there is a little man pushing fast-forward on all the clocks around me. Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes. So, lately most of the cooking I’ve been doing is the multi-tasking variety. The food kind of cooks itself while I do everything else and when I come back, I push a button (of sorts) and it’s all done. That’s how I got to this morning’s breakfast. Thanks to The Bestie, I fell in love with horchata recently. She has been a huge fan for years, but for some (completely ridiculous reason) I refused to try it. Then I made it and after one sip, I was done for. Completely, utterly in love! Which led me to another thought… I could “horchata” any grain not just rice.

This was the winter that wasn’t which I suspect is going to be good and bad. Plants are going to get a head start and look awesome, but allergies are going to be monster, so I’ve been putting local honey in something for everyone in the house on almost a daily basis. Even though I’m excited for all the seasonal spring foods my usual winter craving of oatmeal has suffered. There is something about winter that makes me crave oatmeal, but I just can’t eat it when it’s warm outside. Maybe it’s a mental block, but I just can’t. I used to do a lot of baking so the oatmeal could go into oatmeal-raisin cookies during the summer. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you spin the coin), The Kid doesn’t like sweets so I haven’t baked in what feels like forever.

 

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Then last night, I figured I’d try something out…. Cinnamon-Cherry Oatmeal Horchata…. sounds reasonable… I can make a cookie without making a cookie… So, I filled the blender with

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups water
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup tart dried cherries

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and let it sit overnight. Then this morning, I just pureed, poured over ice and ran out the house. I took a sip in the driveway just as I was about to hit reverse and… Hold the Phone! This is GOOD. I actually paused to take another sip. The plan was to drink it at my desk, but before I got to work it was all gone.  I blame the traffic lights. Alas, I will endeavor to try again tomorrow. Oh the possibilities… I think I’m adding about an ounce of raw cashews tomorrow.

I also grabbed a Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice on the way out too. I have developed a bit of a yogurt obsession and I think I’m going to have to make a page dedicated to my yogurt experiments. There was a Bananas-Foster Coconut Yogurt trial that was surprisingly good. So I know I’ll need to remember that one for the future. But back to the yogurt at hand. I have tons of preserves and jams that I picked up when I was making cookies, but have been

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sadly ignored lately. Now that I’m making yogurt, this seems like the best opportunity to use them all up and make more room in the pantry since I want to start trying to make my own preserves with whatever fruits look good this summer. When I saw the container of ginger preserves in the cupboard, I instantly thought of a Ginger-Apple Pie. So, I figured I’d run with it. I spooned 1 heaping tablespoon ginger preserves in each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, heated up 1 quart of whole milk to 180F, and left it to cool down on the stove until it was under 100F (okay, yes, I’ll admit that I forgot about it on the back of the stove for a bit), then I mixed in 1 packet of freeze dried yogurt starter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon apple pie spice. Then left it for 11 hours until the machine beeped. I added 1 tablespoon local honey to each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, sealed them all up and refrigerated until cold.

I’ve been eating this Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice for the past few days and it is phenomenal. Ok… I should start by saying that I love ginger. LOVE!! I have no idea where I got the ginger preserves that I used, but now I’m determined to figure out how to make ginger preserves. I must make this again!

 

Roasted Garlic “Mayo”

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I have a garlic problem. Whenever I go to the produce spot I buy a big bag of garlic. I always think I just ran out. Then I get home and realize I still have the six heads of garlic from last week sitting in the onion basket. So now I have 15 heads of garlic and then I go back next week and buy more garlic since I’m sure I finished all the garlic from last week and then I have 20-something heads of garlic!! I need an intervention.

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All this garlic led me to a semi-genius idea — Roasted Garlic “Mayo.” I love roasted garlic. I think it adds a great warm flavor to a lot of dishes. Although, I will admit that the idea of roasting garlic heads in foil just annoys me. I hate squeezing the garlic out at the end and knowing that there is some left behind in the garlic skins. Yes, I’m greedy. So the other day I peeled seven or nine heads of garlic (Yep, I zoned out and lost count after six) and put them in a small saucepan on the stove. I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, covered the pot and turned the heat to Low and walked away.

It took a couple hours, but as soon as I smelled something I checked on it. It was pure yummy roasted garlic. I dumped all the contents of the pot into the mini food processor and puréed. I tasted it and added the juice of a lemon. If I thought it would last I would have added a bit of salt for the sake of preservation, but one taste and I knew better. This would be great spread like mayo on a sandwich or mixed into mashed potatoes. Yum. So just so I remember next time:

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Roasted Garlic “Mayo”
Cloves from 6-9 heads of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Put all the garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Add olive oil. Stir garlic cloves to coat in oil. Turn heat to Low. Leave covered until you smell roasted garlic (about 2 hours). Purée garlic with juice of 1 lemon. Put in a glass container & refrigerate.

The Garden — Your First Year

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If you’re trying to dip your toe in the gardening pool, there are simple things I recommend for your first year. Buy a couple vegetable plants (something that you would eat) that look healthy at a garden center. I recommend peppers and tomatoes since (if chosen correctly) they will be big (but not too big) and give you something to show as well as something you can incorporate into a salad or recipe. Before we get to the plants, there are some things to consider. For the record, no one has paid me for any endorsement here, I’ve just used these companies because my mother ordered from these companies and now I do and that many years of success speaks volumes.

1. Organic. If you’re growing at home, then in my opinion, you should do it organically. What is the point of going through all the effort of growing at home if you’re going to put the same chemicals on your food that conventional growers use? Besides, there are too many studies coming out about the effects of all those chemicals on your endocrine and reproductive systems that it makes more sense to just leave them alone. I even tend to shy away from the soil that is produced by companies that produce other forms of non-organic products. I just don’t trust it. Call me nuts, whatever. All my fertilizers come from Gardens Alive. They have a fertilizer for everything and have sales all the time.

2. Watering. You know yourself. Are you going to check the water daily or are you likely to forget or get busy with work or something else and feel terrible when your poor plant is wilting in the heat. If you may be a bit forgetful, there are tons of options including water saving crystals that you can mix into the potting soil. My recommendation is to just start with a self watering planter. Gardener’s Supply Company has lots of options, including a kit to retrofit any existing round container. This is particularly helpful if you can find some containers on clearance (like I did) or already have a container that you’re partial to (like the one I “borrowed” from my mom).

3. Containers. Buy big containers. While it’s true that some plants (like dill) don’t play well in the same “sandbox” as other plants, starting off big means your plants have room to grow over the season. Small “cute” containers usually end up with roots circling the edge of the container and eventually choking the poor plants. Some of my smallest containers are only about 12″ wide and 18″ deep. Unless you have somewhere you can store the huge containers inside during the winter, find pots that are all weather. Glazed clay pots are gorgeous, but they’re not cheap and crack if you don’t take care of them. BUT, you don’t have to rule them out forever. You can graduate up to them. You have to start with a higher likelihood of success then increase your degree of difficulty. And they actually have plastic pots that look like clay now. These are your friends. They’re cheaper and lighter. Remember, the first year, the spot where you want to put the plants may not have enough sun. If you put your planter down somewhere and find the plants aren’t getting enough or in late summer too much sun, you can move them without investing in a chiropractor payment.

4. Independent Garden Centers. Find an independent garden center. Besides being trendy, buying locally is just a good idea. Independent garden center owners generally started the business because they like gardening. Once you know what you’re doing you can shop bigger stores, but the independent spots will usually have someone around that can answer your questions. They are more likely to have plants that work in your area and when they don’t work, they can help you understand why. When I moved I just made a list of every garden center in the yellow pages and visited each one. I ended up with my favorite: Primex Garden Center. They are my ideal — one stop shopping. They have information workshops, knowledgeable staff, bulk items, big shrubs, little herbs, seeds, tools, bulbs, garden supports, etc. etc. etc. If you can find a spot like Primex that has everything you need, then that’s the place to go. If not you may end up going to a few different places. Not all garden centers have the same things (which is good) so you can end up finding a good variety if you shop around.

Okay, this post is getting long so I’ll continue next week….

What’s In The Fridge?

My dear husband is great at many things. I wouldn’t say finding things is his forte. We came to an impasse a few weeks ago when he ordered lunch while he was home alone instead of digging into the plethora of leftovers we had in the fridge. The Hubs (unlike me) does not have a problem eating leftovers, but finding them is another story. So, to meet everyone’s needs I instituted the “In The Fridge” list.

Every time I make something, I put it on the list. Then every time the empty dish goes in the dishwasher, he crosses it off. It was working like a dream and The Hubs was actually eating leftovers when I realized that the true beauty of the list didn’t have anything to do with The Hubs at all. With the list of leftovers laid out, I had a new source of inspiration. I could just look through the list of leftovers and come up with new ideas for soups or lunch or even remix dinners.

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So, there I was on pizza night. Pizza for me is just a good way to use up any last bits of leftovers. I picked the taco meat, mushrooms, eggplant and I wanted ricotta, but didn’t have any. I had butter beans left over from making oxtail soup. I think it was the butter in the title that got me since I was already thinking dairy. I figured if they didn’t taste good, we’d just pluck them off. But, the skins got a little crispy and the inside stayed creamy. Who knew?!  It was fantastic.  I guess you just never know unless you try it.  And yes, the taco meat and eggplant were good too…

 

 

Endless Possibilities

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It’s seed starting time. I love this time of year. The garden is full of endless possibilities. In my mind I’m immediately transported to summer where everything is lush and growing. I’m outside with my garden basket gathering up tomatoes and beans and lettuce. I head inside and make a gorgeous salad with a perfectly roasted chicken and then I’m soaking up the chicken and salad dressing juices with a fantastic whole grain bread that I baked that morning. That’s garden romance for me.

 

To make that dream a reality, I always start too many seeds. Well, you kind of have to since not every seed (even the ones in the same packet) is the same. Some are stronger. Some won’t pop at all. And sometimes even the weakest seeds produce the best plants. So I don’t give up on any of my seeds. I feel the need to plant all of them. Some years… my dream is a reality. Some years… the garden is a mess. It’s ok. Because in my mind, next year will always be the better (and it is).

If you are interested in gardening, there is a logical stream of getting your hands dirty so to speak.

  • The first year, find an independent gardening center, buy a few plants, a few herbs and a few flowers. Grow them organically in containers. Decide if you like gardening. Join a CSA so you can get more organic vegetables. Start a compost pile.
  • The second year, buy a few more plants, a few more herbs and a few more flowers. Pick out a small area of the yard in a sunny location where you are going to put your in-ground garden. Find some free compost. (Many townships and high schools will have a pile where you can go get some for free as long as you bring your own containers or contractor bags to haul it away.) Dig up the soil in the small area and replace it with the compost. (You may need to go back and get some more soil over the season.) Grow the plants you grew in the containers last year in the ground. Try something else in the containers. Stick with the CSA. You’re not growing for the world… yet.
  • The third year, buy a few more plants, a few more herbs and a few more flowers. Expand your garden area a little (remove the dirt and replace with compost). Move the plants you grew in the ground last year to the new area, add more compost to the old area and try some new plants. Do a few plants in the containers.
  • Repeat over the years until you can in fact feed the world (or at least some of your friends & family).

 

Now, understand that I’ve dramatically oversimplified the process and there are a few other things that I’ve found out about over the years that can really boost your success. Over the next few weeks, I’ll do my best to lay it all out. One thing I recommend is finding an independent garden center in your area. In my opinion you’re better off getting plants from an independent garden center when you’re getting started. In general, most of the people who work there know something about plants. Some of the larger chain store employees don’t have the plant knowledge of people who “do this for a living”. I understand that gardening seems like a ton of work, but trust me, most people with a “green thumb” also have a big compost pile. And in that pile are all the things that didn’t work. The great thing about gardening is it’s easier than it looks and (if you have a compost pile) your mistakes feed your successes.

 

Ultra-Change – UPDATE

Okay, so I have been converted… by milk. I have been drinking skim milk forever and thought it was okay… for milk. I used to drink non-organic, then I read all the articles telling you that there are unending reasons to get organic milk that are good for you and good for the environment. So, I switched. I noticed a modicum of flavor improvement, but quite frankly, it was still… milk. Better, but kind of flavorless. It was supposedly good for calcium and what not, but I could live without it. As a side note, I tried soy milk and realized there were worse things out there than bland milk and had something of a boost in my appreciation. As is expected with me, I eventually lost the appreciation when once again I tasted… milk. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. I guess I could accept that. Maybe I’d just find some other way to get the whole calcium thing. The Hubs on the other hand loves milk. He came along on the skim milk ride — begrudgingly, but since he didn’t have to do any grocery shopping he let it go.

Okay, so I was drinking organic milk and getting through when I read something that said, if you don’t like milk, it’s probably because it’s been ultra-pasteurized. Supposedly, the pasteurized method doesn’t destroy the flavor the way ultra-pasteurizing does. Really….?! So I looked it up. They have to heat the raw milk to make it safe for drinking, but the method of heating makes a big difference. Either they do the super high heat for a few seconds (Ultra-Pasteurization) or they go for a longer period and get it to the right temp (Pasteurization). So let me get this straight…. either you sit in a tanning bed cranked up to a million for a few minutes or you go to the beach for a few hours and relax to get a tan. I know which one I’d prefer. The milk I found also happened to be from grass-fed, not corn-fed cow’s milk and switched again. So, I switched again to see if it made a difference. Surprise, surprise…. definite flavor improvement. But honestly, there was still something missing.

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Now, as I was doing all this I was waging a war of sorts against anything low fat. I swore off all versions of sour cream, cream cheese and any other cheese that claimed to be low fat because they just didn’t taste right. They always tasted kind of bland to me and when you flip over to the nutritional panel on the packaging it always had way too much sodium to balance the fact that sucking out the fat makes it taste well…. bland. Then we were blessed with The Kid who around a year started drinking milk. We were instructed to get him whole milk. So, we dutifully cut into our premium refrigerator space and started having two huge gallon jugs of milk in the fridge. Skim for us, whole for The Kid. Then, recently, I started making my own yogurt with homemade preserves. Since it was what I had, I tried yogurt with the skim milk. It was good, and definitely cheaper than store-bought organic yogurt and it was crazy easy. I just heated the milk to 180F, cooled it down to 140F, added the freeze dried yogurt starter and poured it over the preserves in the jars on the yogurt maker. I turned on the machine and in 10-12 hours… organic yogurt. Then, last week we ran out of skim and I was out of yogurt again and tried it with the whole milk. Epiphany…. Amazing!

Then I took the final step… I told The Hubs that I’m not buying skim milk anymore. I still hear the cartoon double take sound effect when I remember telling him about this. I had a bowl of cereal with whole milk. When I used to make cereal with the skim milk, I would put in a massive amount of milk with not that much cereal. Since I didn’t want to cut into the kid’s supply I put half as much whole milk in and it was fantastic. Great texture, great level of satisfaction. Why would I bother to drink a lot of skim when I could drink a little whole. The house is converted. We’re a whole family now!

UPDATE: If you are considering making your own yogurt, I added links to the products I actually use.  I worked it out and even though it’s an up front investment it will pay itself off in the end.

It is dramatically cheaper  to just make your own and understand that this rational is included in the fact that I use expensive organic, pasteurized, grass-fed milk at $6.99/gallon.  I used a quart per batch and I get 7 6oz. yogurts per batch.  Now compared to the $1.00 (or more) price tag of the greek organic yogurts in the supermarket and of course the Story of Stuff‘s recommendation to reduce using plastic.  I could save more by using some of a previous batch to make the new one instead of the freeze dried powder, but I just can’t be bothered.  But seriously… try this it’s a great way to use up leftover fruit too since you can just add your own homemade compotes or just some of your favorite jams/jellies.

In The Pantry — Fish Sauce

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This started out as a response to a comment on the Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry Sauce recipe and when I filled up the comment window, I figured it made more sense to just make it a post. Sometimes I can’t bring myself to give a simple answer (sorry)…

So the other ingredient I should have expounded on in the recipe was Fish Sauce. I love fish sauce. It is made from fermenting fish over a period of several months and it is near the color of soy sauce. It has a very complex flavor that I just can’t describe, but it is in the same wheelhouse as soy sauce and mushrooms (Umami-esque). You should be able to find it in some supermarkets in the aisle with the usual lineup of Asian ingredients. But if your supermarkets doesn’t keep it stocked you may have to find an Asian supermarket or specialty store (or just order it online). Before you consider turning up your nose at fermented fish, keep in mind that if not for fermented crushed grapes, some dishes just wouldn’t be the same either. Now that I said that, I have to warn you, raw fish sauce straight out of the bottle stinks. It really does smell like fermented fish. HOWEVER… just a tiny amount cooked into a recipe can fill in all the flavor gaps you didn’t quite know were there and couldn’t have really described.

Forgive me for this explanation, because it’s just the way I think about food: Sometimes when you put all the ingredients together for a dish (I find this is true sometimes with curries), it feels like it all just kind of floats high over your tongue. Almost as though it was a flavor bubble that stays with the roof of your mouth but never really makes that true connection with your taste buds. Fish sauce is the pin that bursts the bubble and sends all that flavor crashing down on your tongue. It fills in all the cracks that are missing in some curry sauces. I think it does a masterful job of balancing coconut milk and red curry paste and giving you a full rounded out flavor. The key is not to use too much. Start with a teaspoon, stir it in and let it cook for a few minutes and taste. If you think you need more then add it. If you think you may have taken a curry dish too far with the fish sauce the best thing to do is to serve lime wedges with the dinner so people can squeeze it into the dish just before they eat it or you can just squeeze it on right before you serve it.

I highly recommend fish sauce if you’re willing to give a new ingredient a try.

 

 

Fourth Time Around

I am that person that loves shopping in the supermarket. I have been known (pre-parenthood and on grandparent weekends) to spend a few hours in a new supermarket wandering the aisles and sometimes circling back to aisles after finding something in another aisle. If I see something new I must buy it. Sometimes I have to pull out my phone just so I have some idea what things are. The phone came in handy once when I almost bought Durian which may have stunk up my house forever.

My favorite aisle is always the spice aisle. My spice drawer is full to the brim and I have more spices in the pantry and even more in the cabinets. I never discriminate against new spices. If I don’t have it already then I feel compelled to buy it. And I have not been disappointed yet. One of my favorite spices of the moment is red curry paste. It has lemongrass, ginger and chiles (among other things) and tastes fantastic with coconut milk (my other current mini-obsession).

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Red Curry Paste

The other night while we were eating dinner, The Kid started getting fussy and saying he was “All done.” Usually I can convince him to wait until everyone is done eating before he gets up from the table. But then I realized the problem and had to say to him, “Honey, I realize you are all done, but can you sit at the table and wait for Daddy to finish his fourth helping?” That was also my cue to write down the recipe so I could repeat it…

Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry Sauce

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut 1/4″ pieces
2 pounds shitake mushrooms caps, chopped 1/2″ squares
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon red curry paste
6 yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk, minced
6 sundried tomatoes, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup scallions chopped

In a medium-hot large saucepan, add the olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and kosher salt. Let the onions and mushrooms saute for about 3-5 minutes until they start to brown slightly. Add the curry powder and let it toast in the oil for about a minute. Add the mustard, red curry paste, garbanzos, potatoes and spices. Cook stirring occasionally until spices begin to stick (about 5-8 minutes). Add the celery and sundried tomatoes. Add the chicken stock and fish sauce. Scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the coconut milk and corn. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add scallions and transfer to serving dish.

 

Double Take

It happened…. The Kid ate meat!!! Okay… this may not seem that exciting, but I was pretty sure this day would never come. Up until now, every time I made a dish with meat in it, The Kid would pick out all the meat and hand it to me. But the other night, he did his usual: he saw me eating a piece of meat and asked for a piece. I gave it to him, expecting the usual spit out and hand back, but instead — he ate it!!! Then he asked for another piece. And another, and another. It was a miracle that I didn’t drop my poker face when he kept eating it and he ate about the size of a chicken thigh and then went back to his bowl of Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry and Thai Purple Rice like nothing happened. Meanwhile, I was in shock and desperately trying not to indicate to him that a miracle happened.

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The chicken was actually the same chicken that I got in the two pack a few weeks ago and butterflied. Since I cooked another chicken that night, I just threw this one into a freezer bag with the rind of a lemon, 4-5 whole smashed garlic cloves, about a teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, a tablespoon of salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. It turned out fantastic if I must say so myself. I moved the chicken to the fridge two days before I planned to cook it and let it defrost. I guess I put it in a cold section of the refrigerator because it didn’t look entirely defrosted to me so I decided to cook it low and slow at 325F for 90 minutes. I took out my broiler pan and put the chicken on top. In the bottom section, I just put a sliced Spanish onion, an entire head of garlic with cloves separated (but not peeled) and the contents of the freezer bag in the bottom. I didn’t even add my usual splash of dry vermouth. When I took it out, the onion and garlic were roasted and covered with the chicken drippings. The chicken was so moist that I didn’t even need to make gravy. I just cut up the roasted chicken and saved the onions, garlic and chicken drippings for another night.

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The other great thing about this dinner was the Thai Purple Rice. I’ve been on a colorful rice kick lately (which I plan to discuss soon), but there was something truly gorgeous about this meal when I added the Thai Purple Rice. I cooked it using my usual foolproof rice method letting most of the water evaporate off until it was just below the level in the pan then stirred once, covered it, turned off the burner and walked away. The taste is a little sweeter than brown rice and I’m a huge fan now. Paired with the golden Red Curry Sauce the Purple Thai Rice gives a similar (inverse) visual of Cuban black beans over yellow rice.

Although I may have to remember this dinner forever since it was The Kid’s first true appreciation of meat, I will still endeavor to come up with more recipes that incorporate his first food love: beans. We will continue to be vegetarian-ish, but the meat really does add more options and you know I love options!!

Oooh… Under Pressure

I did it!! I got a pressure canner!! Ok, perhaps I am the only one who is even vaguely excited about this. The Hubs didn’t quite understand why it was Happy Dance worthy, but that’s okay. I’ve had this idea for years that I should help out my poor bulging freezer and can some of the stuff I make like sauce and beans. Unfortunately, I’ve also had this irrational idea that I would blow a hole in the kitchen ceiling if I used a pressure cooker. Yes… I know it’s irrational, but destroying the house seemed like a good reason not to give it a try without some lessons. But then, during the Holiday Deals madness I found a 23 quart canner for half off and decided, “Why not!” and ordered it.

The pressure cooker arrived at the house and was sitting in the box for a couple days. I took one look at it and remembered my poor yogurt maker that sat in the pantry for a year unused. Now here is the part where I lost my mind… I had the day off, I was finally finished with all the organizing and the kid was at daycare. The plan was to just relax and stay in bed to recover, but instead…. I decided to make some tomato sauce and can it. The tomato sauce was nothing fancy and to be honest, I only made it to test the canning procedure. It was just a super simple tomato, onion and herb mix with a touch of balsamic vinegar (canned tomato sauce needs some acid and the lemon juice that the recipe book recommended just seemed weird to me).

So, there I was… standing in front of the stove woozy from exhaustion. I took one look at all my sterilized quart size glass jars, lids, and rings still in their hot bath and figured it was now or never. I put the tomato sauce into the jars, assembled all the jars, and gently placed them in the canning rack. As I put the lid on the canner, I figured The Hubs couldn’t possibly be THAT mad about having to extricate a pot lid from the kitchen ceiling if I was seriously exhausted at the time. I turned on the heat, and prepared for the madness. The instruction book said I needed to get the pressure gauge over 11 pounds of pressure for about 20 minutes. I kept an eye on the pressure gauge half terrified of catastrophe and kept adjusting the heat (mostly downward so it didn’t hit 15 pounds of pressure). After 20 minutes, it was all done. According to the instructions, I could just walk away and let it cool off by itself.

After that massive build up and my obsession with destroying the kitchen, it was over. I had three bottles of canned tomato sauce and a kitchen still in tact. Of course, when The Hubs got home he took one look at the kitchen and said…. “So did you rest at all today?!”