Thursday, September 4, 2014

Canning season

Autumn is fast approaching and while it makes those who love the heat and sun of summer terribly sad, it makes many, like myself, terribly happy!  I love autumn!!!  It has always been my favorite season.  Like forever!  I love the cool crisp air of fall! And the rich savory colors, tastes and smells of autumn can't be beat. Best of all, as a child I loved that my birthday was the first full day of autumn!   I am not nearly as enthusiastic about my birthday nowadays, but I still love FALL!

The only possible drawback to the autumn season that I can think of is that I went and married an avid hunter.  What was I thinking?  Seriously? I wish I'd been warned about the reality of marrying a hunter.  His hunting habit really screws up our schedule during my favorite time of the year. It is really annoying, but I try to remember that hunting is my husband's equivalent to running (you know in that he LOVES it... possibly more than he LOVES me)  so I am mostly a patient, kind and understanding wife regarding his hunting hobby. I am all of these things, as long as I get to run at least 3 times a week during hunting season.  If I drop below that critical level, then I become a real B*tch.  Therefore, I rely heavily on the goodness of friends and family  (watching our children while I run) during hunting season in order to accomplish this minimum running frequency that maintains my mental health and arguably the well being of our entire family. Thanks to everyone who is about to help get us through this upcoming hunting season.  We appreciate it so much!

So the other really cool thing about autumn is that it is harvest season!  And while I definitely do not have a green thumb, I am really good at picking the stuff that everyone else grows.  You see, any plant that I care for dies within roughly two days so I call that a black thumb, not a green one.  This is my reality.

 I help harvest all of the produce from my parents' garden as well as my in-laws' garden. We no longer have our own garden since we essentially live in my in-laws' front yard and we can walk to their garden in less than thirty seconds and there is plenty of produce for all of us! That is one of the most amazing things about gardens they produce so MUCH food.  I realize the part about living so close to my in-laws probably made many people cringe.  I understand that merely imagining living that close to in-laws, can be a scary thing, but I don't mind it.  I get it that most women would hate, living so nearby their mother-in-law, and I probably would too if I had a different mother-in-law. But as it stands, I love it.  It is nothing like "Everyone Loves Raymond" because my mother-in-law is nothing like his mom was. She is cool, trendy and a wonderful Grandma to our kids. Oh and as a total bonus, it helps that I can raid her closet whenever I am in need of normal (non running or yoga pants) clothes and she has a wardrobe at least ten times the size of mine and doesn't mind loaning her stuff out! It is basically like living next to a Younkers store that let's you borrow clothes for the day!

Now my own mother is the most exceptional Canner that I know. Possibly in the entire world or even universe!  She really is that good! It is incredible to watch her can!  I tried my hand at canning during our first year of marriage. After spending the better part of my childhood observing and assisting my mom with the dying art form, that is home canning, I figured it would be simple.  Boy was I wrong. That summer I canned and crap ton of green beans and pickles and none of it was edible. None!  And we all accept that my standards for food consumption are pretty low.  It was really that bad.  The chickens wouldn't even eat that shit!  And I have not canned independently since.  I am only allowed to do supervised canning on my scheduled days (Court ordered!).  Trust me; It is best for everyone involved that way.  I can properly prepare the foods for the canning process.  I can even neatly stuff the food into the jars and make them look pretty.  I just can't finish the job if you want to be able to actually eat the food at some point in the future without risking life or limb!

Now my two sisters are close second and third places in the canning department, they are both really, really good at it!  All the women in my family (other than myself) are amazing canners. Me, I couldn't can a jar of edible pickles to save my life!  I guess I just couldn't handle the "pressure".

Home canned applesauce.  Does it really get any more autumn than that?

So here's the thing.  I was really disappointed in myself when my first canning season was a complete and utter failure. It didn't make sense and I considered trying again, but the truth is I just didn't enjoy the process that much when I was involved in it alone.  After one season of failed canning, I gave up!  Some people would probably be critical of me for giving up so quickly.  I know my husband would be, but I am at peace with my canning reality.  My kids are still learning this legacy from their aunts and grandma.  Me, I am just excited to spend some quality time with my family this harvest season helping to can up the bounty of our labor. And while I won't be allowed to operate any of the highly sophisticated canning equipment, I can clean a tomato faster than most people and that is good enough for me!

You see, somethings in life aren't meant to be and independent canning is apparently one of them for me!  At least I am a really good helper and I am a really, really good taste tester. Best of all, I will eat and serve to my family anything (even the stuff that isn't quite right) and that, my friends, is priceless.  

Happy Fall Ya'll

Vern Out

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