Wednesday, July 19, 2006

HOT and steamy

I said....Steamy. Yup. Has that got your attention yet? Bet you didn't think I was talking about what it's like when you're canning on a really hot day, errr week! Ahh, but if I mention blackberry brandy jam, apple-plum chutney (pictured here), real homemade Asian style plum sauce, and spiced homemade applesauce, and you're into food, that might just make you feel even more excited. At least, it does around here. Every summer I try to can the things we really enjoy eating. I do it because:
1) it saves money
2) it tastes really good, and you can't buy this in the store
3) it's about 90% locally grown and/or organic (spices and sugar are not local, cinnamon and sugar are just not grown here)
4) this is "fast food" for foodies
These are in no particular order, and I'd say, repeat #2 several times and you'll see why I do this! However, this summer, I've been busy and it's disrupted my usual canning schedule. Usually, I can about once a week in the summer. It takes no more than 1.5 or 2 hours, I listen to an audio book while I do it, and then I rest and do actual work that earns money later.

This year, I've been swamped with real, live, paying work. Yet, the blackberries and plums dared come into season anyway. darn cheek! I bought them at the farmer's market and thought, well, I'd make time. Then we bought some apples to cook with the plums. The orchard somehow had half-bushels of apples for a low price, and my husband, thinking bigger is better, dived in. That's a lot of fruit. I've only used half of it, and I've done something like 8 cups each of blackberry brandy jam, applesauce and plum sauce and 12 cups of the chutney so far this week. There are only two of us. Too. Much. Fruit. Still and all, I'm jonesin for peaches...

If you thought I was crazy before hearing about the canning, you may know for sure now. Like most folks in the USA, we've had hot weather this week, with no sign of it lifting for another couple of days. Even with the air conditioning on, the upstairs of our house hovers around 85. The outside temperature is in the mid-nineties, but with our lovely Kentucky humidity, we'll hit heat indexes over 100 most days this week. The combination of living in an old house and conserving energy means that we don't lower the 'mometer on the thermostat any lower than 78-80...instead, we sweat a little, and I just try to sit in the cool part of the downstairs (it is always cool there) to knit all this wool. We also try to dry clothes outside in this heat, and we walk when we can. We think about sustainability, conservation and global warming a little bit... if reading about it isn't enough, I'm married to a scientist and I have asthma that is worsened by pollutants that hang out in the air on hot, smoggy days. For me, this isn't just a political thing. Breathing. I like it, and it's hard this time of year.

I'm fueling my canning and knitting frenzy (did I mention knitting half a sweater jacket already this week?) with a lot of produce. My favorite salad has been in abundance and helps me think daily of the Middle East, which is on my mind a lot now. Favorite salad is Middle Eastern: cut up tomatoes and cucumbers very small. Mince in some green olives. Add good olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. I was able to eat this directly from my own garden earlier this week:

Last, but not least, our guys Harry and Sally are alternately limp and panting, and then somehow boosted magically into adolescents with attitude by a small amount of cool air conditioning. Barking at passers-by, retaining housetraining skills (Sally says, "oops! I was excited, Mom, sorry about the couch, good thing it's scotch guarded") and reasonable behavior: strictly optional in temperatures above 90.
caption: What? It's so hot. What do you want now?


Blogger alliesw said...

Thanks for the cool recipe in this hot weather! Sounds like you have PLENTY to do! Enjoy, and knit on!

July 21, 2006 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger PBnJ said...

Joanne! It ought to be against the law to make someone as hungry as you made me with this post!!!! :p
That salad sounds good. Is it called Tabouli? Yum!!!

July 21, 2006 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger e's knitting and spinning blog said...

The canning is wonderful!! We make that salad and have been pretty much only eating that lately. My fil planted too many cucumbers. They are coming out of our ears!!! Our tomatoes are not ready yet though:-(

July 22, 2006 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

There are so many kinds of salad in the Middle East, and they all taste different...and none of those folks in the bomb shelters in Israel or those fleeing the bombing in Lebanon have much access to fresh produce at all these days. This brief explanation is for them:

My friend Elizabeth adds onion to her tomato and cucumber salad, and it is Shirazi. The cuke and tomato salad I described is mainly called "salad" in Israel. In the USA, I've heard it called Middle Eastern and Israeli salad. It is often the "standard" salad-with variations- that people make at home in Israel and in Lebanon.

Tabouli has bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, tomatoes, mint, and sometimes cucumber or other greens..along with lemon and oil.

Fattoush has lettuce in it, pita, sumac, mint, parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, and lemon and olive oil.

There are many other kinds of salad--eggplant, for instance (too numerous to describe here) and others. I hope that soon, everyone in the Middle East will be back to eating salad at their own dinner tables, in peace, again.

July 27, 2006 at 9:25 AM  

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