Monday, July 18, 2011

Jam Session

So I finally got started on Canning Season 2011!  After a trip to Costco I had a giant-sized flat of big juicy ripe strawberries.  And as you canners and jammers know, with produce you have to get right to work.

So on probably the freaking hottest possible day of the year, Cupcake and I put up a batch of strawberry jam.  We use the low-sugar recipe.  Not really for health reasons, although less white sugar should be my goal if you know what I mean.  But mostly because wonderful ripe summer fruit doesn't really need all that sugar. 

So in my vintage apron we got to work.  Cupcake mentioned that I looked just like some 1940's Mom jarring up the garden bounty.  I mused that the big difference was I was cooking on electricity inside my air-conditioned home, not sweating over a cook stove in a 110+ degree kitchen.  However, remember my musings on summer kitchens?  I really want one now.  It would be my escape.  My house has what my sisters and I call a "one-butt-kitchen".  Our unit of measure is our own hereditary ample rear ends.  I actually have more like a "1/2 butt kitchen".  So a project like canning takes good planning, iced tea, and cold air pouring out of the floor vents.

Now that I've proven my prowess with canning, I think I'm ready to buy a big 'ol pot that will hold lots of jars, not just 4-5 jam sizers.  
Watch for later developments as I make raspberry jam, peach butter, salsa jam, and tomato sauce!
Also - the neighbors told me I can help myself to their apple tree in the Fall so Apple Butter coming our way!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quesadillas reprise

Every so often I have an "Oh DOY!" moment.  Oh who am I kidding, it happens to me all the time.  That moment when you realize you've been doing it the HARD way when the EASY way was right in front of you.

(Image courtesy of internet)

I'm a mentor, and my "mentee" is a wonderful Latina middle schooler who shares my love of cooking.  Her specialty is quesadillas.  So today we picked up some ingredients and using my leftover grilled chicken we made lunch for my daughters.   I set up my griddle then watched her magic.  

Here's her simple method:
Get the griddle heated.
Lightly butter BOTH sides of a flour tortilla.  Warm both sides on the griddle.
Put the filling on one half of the tortilla - we used a Mexican shredded cheese blend and sliced grilled chicken.  She likes to use ham.
Turn half the tortilla over onto the filling, like a calzone, and crimp the edges shut with your spatula end.
Keep grilling and flipping until the outsides are nicely crisped.

So DOY! I had been doing the ridiculous method of trying to fill two tortillas at a time, like a giant round sandwich, and attempting to flip that.  Of course every flip resulted in a grill covered with loose cheese and meat.  Never too old to learn I guess.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sticky Situation

It's time to make jam - and I'm damn jam good at it!
Homemade low-sugar jam is not only much tastier than store-bought, but it's easier on our budget in the long run.
But what do you do when you don't have the cash to resupply your canning supplies AND buy the large quantities of sugar and berries?  I need a farm or a micro-loan!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer so far

Watch my summer unfold over here.

Meanwhile, feeling so mad and depressed I could spit nails or curl into the fetal position.  My hours have been cut yet again because the GOP thinks protecting the rich is more important than my job.  At our public school I match kids with college and parent tutors - 3 of them "graduated" to the honor roll!  I also work with a mentoring program. Paying me to do this through school funding and govt grants is dirt cheap for taxpayers.  It helps these kids finish school and have some hopes for a decent job someday, maybe even home ownership, which turns them into taxpayers.  I'd say it's a darned good return on our investment.

Oh you know where I'm going with all this.  I'm just disgusted with our voting populace right now.  Listen to Fox "News" and Rush Limbaugh and believe all the lies and fear they spew - then vote against your country's strength and rip out it's heart.  The rich will always survive much more comfortably than the rest of us proletariat.  But the wealthy media moguls have perfectly calmed the hordes who should be carrying pitchforks and demanding their heads on a platter.

Our country is only as strong as our working class.  They are our canary-in-a-coal mine.  If the extreme lower middle class can buy a car every now and then, take a few car trips, buy a fishing boat or TV, that will keep us humming.  The rich don't need any one's help!  But somehow they've convinced the huddled masses that government services are evil.  Even those folks standing squarely in the MIDDLE of govt services believe it!

All kinds of folks are crying in the streets over Casey Anthony (which we should - I'm not heartless).  But right now, RIGHT NOW, children and fragile elderly are being hurt, abused, and starved because of program cuts or state shut-downs and there is no public outcry.

We should be collectively ramming down the doors of Congress and statehouses right now, demanding fully funded programs for the lower and middle class.  We should also be demanding a restoration of taxes on the wealthy.  But we're all too busy with our 2nd and 3rd jobs, or hanging on the phone haggling with our health insurance company.  And that's just they way "they" want it.

Disgusted - that's me right now