Yes, I CAN! (my first boiling water canning bath)
Today I was seriously productive.
For starters, upstairs in the smaller of my two crockpots there’s a big pot of chicken noodle soup with mushrooms and vegetables. And there’s a fresh baguette to go with it.
Simultaneously, I filled the bigger crockpot with apple slices and spices and brown sugar, and turned it into applesauce over the course of a few low-maintenance hours. Last month we visited the apple orchard and I brought home half a bushel of nice cheap “windfall” (i.e. heinously ugly) apples, just waiting for a day when I’d be home to transform them into spicy autumny goodness. My kids helped core and slice the apples with our cool little corer-peeler-slicer, and the crockpot did most of the rest of the work. (My “recipe”–which hardly even qualifies as a recipe, it’s so simple–is posted over at the Green Phone Booth.)
After taking a much-needed lunch break to watch a Criminal Minds rerun and drool over Thomas Gibson a little bit (sigh…), I dragged my daughter out to the store to get some mason jars. I was a little surprised the grocery store didn’t have any at all, but the hardware store did, so we were good to go. By the time we got back, the applesauce was done. I washed and sterilized the jars and lids, filled ’em up, boiled them in the water bath, and took them out to cool. I used a combination of this website and my birthday book Preserving the Harvest—the book had really good general instructions, and the website was applesauce-specific, so between the two of them I was all set. And now I have preserved applesauce. I am very proud of myself. (And disappointed that my giant-packed crockpot made only a total of 2 quarts–i.e. 4 pints–of applesauce. Well, a little more, because the kids and I had some for a snack after school before actually canning it…) It was much less work than I thought it would be, even with my substandard supplies. I had only a big pot to boil things in, and I had to use a spatula and oven mitt to transfer things in and out of the boiling water, but it worked just fine. I think I had always before felt threatened by the whole process and never wanted to Go There unless I had a giant amount of stuff to can (my whole cooking in quantity thing), but just doing this small project was pretty easy. Next time I’ll just fill both crocks with apples and make twice as much applesauce, and can them in quart jars. (Except that I’ll need a taller pot to boil them in, because the tallest one I have is barely high enough to manage pints.)
Now upstairs the crockpot is in action again, this time hopefully to result in a bunch of holiday gift half pints of apple butter for teachers and stuff. I had to stuff it much fuller than I normally would, because I’d already sliced the rest of the half bushel of apples and honestly have nothing else to do with them–so I filled it once, let it cook on high for about an hour, and then mushed down what was there enough to get the rest of the apples in. This will quietly cook all night, and in the morning I’ll attack it with the immersion blender. And if there’s any leftover baguette come morning, it would probably be divine with a little fresh hot apple butter. Or maybe we’ll eat oatmeal…
This planning a meal around a condiment is a fairly new thing for me, but I like it.