Monday, September 14, 2009

Rainy Weekend Renewal: Wine Goes in the Jam and Not the Makers, Solving IT Problems with Mixing Bowls

This weekend started off a bit rocky. I was not feeling well on Friday, so I did not get to attend dance class. This was made up for by Dan, who brought me flowers, helped cook dinner, and watched silly movies for me in our summer movie festival. Needless to say we are starting to run out of time and dvr space as the fall television shows are starting up again soon. This set of flowers actually came out well with my arrangement. I took a class in flower arrangement in college, and I never quite got the hang of it. Seeing as my mother and sister are wonderful at it, my mom being a former florist, I though it would come natural. I was wrong. I guess the practice is just finally starting to show results.

This weekend was rainy in the bay area. I loved every minute of it. I woke up on Saturday to a clean feeling world. It had rained overnight, and I also got to hear a few rare claps of thunder as I filled orders in the morning. I was then off to Dublin by BART to join up with Annie for a day of canning. The ride was delightful as I stitched on my canvas and turned up the Celtic playlist on the headphones. It has been a busy canning fall this year, and the pantry is showing it. I worked on some reorganization this morning to fit in today's new project, salsa. This weekend, Annie and I hit the farmer's market in Pleasanton and one of the usual farm stands on the way to her house. The plan was for pickles and peach and lavender jam. We also thought that we could try to fit in plum. When we hit a stand that had wonderful pears, we added a pie in the sky goal to try to get some pear jam in too. We ate a lunch that was not quick enough and ran off to the store for.... more jars! We definitely have a canning problem.

The produce filled one of the counters:

From there on out it was a sprint pace. I started by washing up the plums and cutting them up to macerate with the sugar and vanilla beans. We were using the recipe for plum jam with vanilla and Gerwurstraminer from Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber.

Annie went to work on getting the dill pickles prepped. Pots of brine were started, water for skinning peaches was boiled, and the big canner pot was also started to get the water boiling.

Once the plums were off and macerating, I joined up with Annie prepping the dill pickles. We cut them into spears. The color of the cucumbers was very nice.

From there we packed the jars with the spears and added all the spices into the jars:

Next we added the brine, and then the jars went into the canner for processing. Meanwhile, we started up the peeling of peaches. Let me say, it is really difficult to peel peaches by any other means than a knife when they are rock solid unripe! We ended up getting some of the skins to slip with the boiling water, but the rest had to be carefully peeled by knife. Once that was done, it was time to remove the pickles and let them cool and seal.

We counted the pops until they were all sealed down. The peach jam was started and the steeped water from the lavender was added. It was a great smelling jam. Sadly we were too busy to take any pictures of that one. We then started up the second pot of plum jam as we realized we were rapidly running out of time to get the jams done and me home "on time". The wine was added to the plum instead of feeding up the whole time. Perhaps this is the secret to us getting so many things done in so little time! I would like to think we are getting better systems down and more accomplished at the canning process. The peach finished off and went into the canner to process. Then, we only had the plum to contend with. It was at that time that the canning staff got to finish off the remnants of the wine! The plum jam made the most beautiful purple garnet color that I have ever seen.

All in all, we got a ton done in a little amount of time. The take was, as always, pretty awesome! Two quarts of pickles and seven half pints of jam.

It was a full day! I came home late though. I never seem to be able to get things done quickly enough! We missed a party with friends, but hopefully I can make it up to them by going out another time.

Sunday was spent getting the kitchen restocked here for the week from the Farmer's Market. I also got all the supplies for making salsa today. Dan worked on some IT problems I have been having. We moved out the wireless access point into my office so it is closer to the living room and also helps out my computer more since I am not directly connected into the network. We also worked on fixing our Nokia 770. I use it to listen to internet radio, mostly Radio Paradise on the stereo. We found out that the cure to the networking problems with the 770 could be cured by using a high tech system of our metal mixing bowls to block out a network that was confusing the poor thing so it could not find our network. High Tech indeed! I guess I need to make sure that I don't use those bowls in the kitchen when I want to tune in the internet! We also got to watch some football and listen to the rain outside. It felt like we were back in an Illinois fall day. I loved smelling the rain and hearing it fall outside making the dust fall out of the air after a long spring and summer with out it.

Well today is off to a slow start, but it is time to get things accomplished. I hope to get the salsa made and canned before lunch. I also want to move onto sewing up those black pants finally. Tonight Dan and I have a Long Now talk to attend as well. Pictures of the salsa making tomorrow!

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