Ha. I had so much trouble cooking for just me that I started a restaurant. I am like zero help.
But I'm thinking of giving in and starting pickling and canning. I have a girlfriend who likes pickled things, I can give a bunch of them to her. Plus, while I can't actually use home-canned food at the restaurant, it's totally recipe testing for a little project I'm working on for Deathless.
Wait. Really, just throw more parties. Or take them to parties, whatever. It's nice to have something on hand you can just chuck in a bag to take with you, rather than having to make something to take right before.
Starting a restaurant is a big way to solve a little problem! Definitely not *my* answer, but it amuses me.
Having more dinner parties is a good way to justify such things. I like it a lot.
In the last few years, I have been feeling an enormous surge of nesting instinct - to be home and do as much of what I can to feed and comfort my family (which mainly consists of my boyfriend and I) as I can.
I've been knitting for several years, which is great for me because each piece I make is a tangible accomplishment - knitting is a hobby that makes me feel relaxed and productive at the same time. I have very much been wanting to get into canning - I bought all of the equipment, but did so out of season, so I'm waiting for spring/summer to come back around so I can give it a try. Learning to cook for myself is something I really want to focus on this year, and I'm very excited to move from an apartment into a house this spring, because I'll finally have room to have my own garden.
For me, I think a lot of this comes from the realization that, at least currently, and probably in the long term, I am strongly unlikely to find meaning or fulfillment in my paying job - I was raised to go out, get a good job, make a lot of money, and that just doesn't have any pull or attraction for me anymore. I'd much rather not work and stretch the family dollar by cooking from scratch, growing our food, preserving our food, making our clothes. I realize a lot of that isn't quite realistic from a money perspective, but I find that idea ENORMOUSLY attractive.
I admit that I loved the years I was a stay-at-home mom more than I've ever loved any job I've had.
You guys seem to have friends over to your house all the time. At least from here it seems like it - you have parties, the kids come home for a bit, you have various partners over... Why not can and share it with *them*? Just because Ferett is missing out doesn't mean all your extended and *chosen* family, friends and loves have to!
I make stuff all the time. I started pickling even though I didn't like pickles, because I wanted to try canning in a less dangerous way. Then I grew to like pickles - especially pickled fruit! Mmm. Pickled peaches and pears :)
I knit. I make costumes. I sometimes make jewelry. I make the occasional quilt. THere's never enough time to make all the things I want to make.
I make things because I'm happier when I'm making things than when I'm not making things. Sometimes I make things midnightstation
likes - sometimes not. When not, I share them with everyone else I know. When it's something he likes, I have to remind him to share it with ME :)
My creativity fell it a serious ebb this year, but I want to get back to making things. I like the satisfaction that making quilts gives me, and the tangible goal of completing a project.
We haven't been having people over to eat very much - more for movies or Rock Band - but that could definitely change. I like the idea of sharing a meal; I don't know when I fell out of the habit!
I make ridiculous amounts of jam, but my husband hates sweets. My jam adventures began when we bought our house, which has half an acre of property, including a hill that's really overrun with all manner of brambles and wild plants - including black raspberries. Their flavor is absolutely incomparable; Chambord is sort of black-raspberry-flavored, but the wild ones are really the best. And I've never seen black raspberry jam or jelly or preserves of any type for sale in a store or anything, either.
As a result, I turned to jam. Actually, the first year, the jam didn't gel and so I ended up with black raspberry goo, but it was still pretty delicious. This past year, I went out in March and pulled all the canes so they weren't laying on the ground and so I could get to them. I ended up with 5.5 quarts of berries, which turned into 12.5 half-pints of jelly.
I guess I just like taking something free and turning it into something lovely and utterly unique. And delicious.
I haven't done pickles, though; that is the next challenge to tackle.
I remember as a kid having blackberries brambles nearby and picking gallons of berries for jam. Free food is most excellent!
I do, I do! I love to garden and preserve foods. This year I'm going to build my own raised beds to fit on my patio so I can get more packed in than I do with container gardening.
I craft, mostly fiber-related things and sewing. I love quilting with a fiery burning passion but so far I've only done smaller quilting projects and art quilts. All quilts are art, though, if you want my opinion.
I really do understand your canning dilemma. I don't can as much as I would like because there are just two of us in this house, and while I could give away the preserves the canning implements are an investment (at least initially). I have proposed having a canning party or parties where people bring jars and produce and we process them together, or even have something like a cookie exchange where we all make one canned type of produce each and then trade off most of it for other delicious stuff.
In terms of canning for one, I actually find that the very small jars are my friend. I can make me-sized quantities of pickles, preserves, and relishes that may go to waste if I put up 20 quarts. Although, I must say, tomatoes would never ever go to waste. I could can 100 quarts of tomatoes and use them all in a year.
WOW. That got long.
I look at the initial investment and kind of shudder, but I do so love the canned goodies when I'm given them.
I have quilted for many years and made over 100 bed or crib sized quilts, many given as gifts. I get pulled in two directions: being surrounded by so many artistic friends has me feeling like "just" a quilt that's not some original pattern or covered with surface work isn't really creative, but I love making useful things that people snuggle beneath. Seeing my um-daughters haul their quilts around gives me the same pleasure as seeing an art piece of mine hanging on someone's wall.
You could always make the stuff you can part of your gift giving. The woman I nanny for did jelly this Summer, and at Christmas gave small jars out to me, the piano teacher, the housecleaner, etc. Or you could donate to a food pantry.
Food pantries can't take home-canned goods because of the danger of bad canning. But gifting isn't a bad idea.
Everyone here has such good ideas. BTW: Regyt & I both can and then we usually swap stuff too. I send out canned items to my LJ friends (cough cough) and give them away as housewarming gifts. People love getting them. I bring them to dinner parties.
Can. Can for the pleasure of it. Let it bring you new forms of community.
I can be the Crazy Can Lady! Seriously, though, it's great to get the encouragement.
I've made my own family out of close friends. It seems like you have a wide variety of friends, both local and afar, why not start a canning type sharing group? Just a thought.
It's a good idea, since I have friends who are gardener and farmer market shoppers.
Now I'm wishing for spring!!
I can, in part because we buy a farm share for our veggies during spring (kinda- mostly greens) and summer and fall. I pickle beets and carrots primarily.
And then some years I do jam (fruit isn't so much a part of our share other than strawberries).
That said, I struggled with my first batch of beets and it ended up taking about 5 hours for various reasons, for about 6 500 ml. jars of beets. I went to the store the next day and they were on sale for $.99/each. It was a bit discouraging, except of course I did it to preserve the local beets and for kicks, etc.
I have thought about buying a farm share in the past. Maybe we will do it this year.
I had the exact same reaction, right down to "Hubby hates pickled everything." Although, reading the comments has made me realize that Hubby loves jam, and making jam uses almost the same process, and now I've got my creative urge on.
Most of my crafting urge is turned towards the jewelry business, so that's easy to satisfy. But I turned my nesting urge towards things that we could share. Home made pasta, rolling sushi myself, bread from the machine. One of our goals for this year is to eat out less, which leads to eating in more, and encouraging our friends to come over to eat home cooked food, instead of going out to a restaurant. This gives me an excuse to indulge my nesting urge with things like ravioli made with homemade pasta filled with goat cheese I made myself from local goat milk and herbs from my own garden (AKA, Saturday's wildly ambitious dinner plans).
That sounds really delicious!
I've been baking our daily bread for a while now, and it's SO wonderful. I've never made pasta, though.
When I lived in a household of 6 there were never leftovers!
My gardening has been missing the last two years. Need to get back to it.
I join the chorus of do some pickling if you enjoy it-I'm sure your friends would love to share or trade for some.
I tend to go a little too big on my projects! I attempted a huge garden and failed last year. Although some of my more experienced gardening friends said last year was a hard gardening year weather wise. So I might try again this year on a smaller scale. maybe just 1-2 veggies and see how they go. I really want to grow my own pumpkin(s)!
When it comes to my craft hobbies, much like at my job, I do need a deadline to get things done-otherwise it just leads to noodling.
Also, I thought remembered your husband posting about drinking a lot of fruit smoothies a while back? Canned fruit could be used for those.
I understand the danger of overambition! It's a regular problem of mine. And the need for deadlines.
In regard to the whole futuristic thing, I think a large part of it is that now cooking, cleaning and other such things are becoming both less work and somewhat less common - and things are fun when you don't HAVE to do them, and when other people do them as well. There's also probably a larger variety of cooking options available - my fiancee's grandfather won't eat pasta other than macaroni, for example, because he never really got it when he was young. When you move out of the meat-and-potatoes paradigm, cooking gets a lot more interesting.
In regard to canning - you could send some to your daughters, give it to friends, or make theferrett like fruit. It's good for him, after all. You'd be doing a good deed. ;)
Other canning options: Chutneys are also a lot of fun to can. Rosehip chutney goes well with everything, though of course you have the aggravation of the rosehips. Relishes, salsas and chili sauces would be other options.
When we lived in Alaska I made rosehip jelly. I never thought of making chutney with it.
You make a good point that the optional nature of our making and gardening and cooking does contribute to their attractiveness. I think there is a natural yearning toward these things that is deeply fundamental.
I'm proud of my mom that she is willing to try foods from other cultures despite having the meat-and-potatoes upbringing.
you know me, I'm the ultimate urban farm/homestead geek.
baking, cooking, canning, crafts, knitting, spinning, soapmaking, gardening, chicken farming. Heck, if I thought I could get a way with a goat, I'd have one of those for milk and to make cheese.
You can process small amounts of canned goods (believe it or not)
I think it's important to know how to grow and preserve our own food.
You are correct that canned food is not as nutritious as fresh or even frozen, but in the event of a disaster, your frozen food can go bad. canned food can be your survival.
There is great satisfaction in self sufficiency.
We have such a tiny lot that we can't even consider much urban homesteading, but we are planning to start keeping bees next spring. I do want to put in some veggies, but there is very little that Ferrett will eat out of the garden.
And I am full of admiration and a bit of jealousy for your urban homesteading adventures.
My friend's husband grew leaf lettuces in big pots on his patio this year. It even SMELLS good, just walking past the pots. I'd never realized how much better really fresh lettuce tastes than store-bought. You just snip off the outer leaves and, I gather, more grows from the center. Such a simple thing, yet so rewarding.
As for me, I make huge quantities of chutney during mango season. I save jelly jars and pickle jars and whatever else looks usable. I don't even have to process the chutney. I just put the simmering hot chutney into the clean jars, put the lids on, and they "pop" shut as they cool. Just to be safe I keep them refrigerated, but they don't last long enough around here to spoil. Once, I had some in the fridge for almost a year, and it was still fine. I'm too afraid of giving potentially harmful food to my friends to use canned gifts. What if something went wrong? I'd never forgive myself. Bread, cookies, fudge maybe, but not canned. The one time I gave away chutney, I fretted for weeks afterward.
I totally want your chutney recipe!
I craft and have a very small garden. My youngest tends to eat all the tomatoes before we get any.
I crochet a lot. I used to sew. I've taken up woodburning and decopauge. I paint cheap ceramic angels into skeletons.
It means... I'm not sure. I think of my grandma a lot when I crochet. She taught me how. I sewed out of necessity. When I'm burning, I think about the design and the person I'm making it for (the boxes are usually for magic tools).
I like cooking for fun, even wrote a cookbook. But most of the time it's one more chore at the end of a long day. I've usually been up for 15 hours by supper time.
I do enjoy cooking, but I have to be in the mood.
I quilt. I've done a little jewelry making, but really? I quilt. It's what calls to me.
When we were first married I tried very hard to do canning, but in the end it was a failure. Our old stove just didn't put out enough heat to get the water bath up to the right temperature in timely fashion, and once I put the jars in, it took so long to boil again that anything I tried to can that way ended up as tasteless moosh. Couldn't afford a pressure canner.
I did succeed with jams and preserves, and kept doing that for a long time, but we eat so little of those things these days that it's not worth the effort and all that sugar.
It's funny about peppers. I loathe the taste of fresh peppers regardless of color and my digestion won't handle hot stuff without massive complaints. My husband loves peppers and will happily consume any color, hot or otherwise. However, I have discovered that I love pepperoncini. And for some reason he hates them. So when we share a Greek salad at our favorite restaurant, it works out perfectly. He takes all the fresh pepper strips and all the beets (beets taste like dirt to me) and I get the pepperoncini. Happiness all around.
Yeah, the sugar thing is decidedly an issue.
We're gardening more and cooking more. Started canning a little bit last year and hope to do more this year... it's healthier... probably makes us feel more connected to the Earth... deeper roots/less superficial living if that makes any sense. More self-reliant. Learned from another lady who learned from her mother. Connecting generations. Being less dependent on electricity. Knowing exactly how your food was grown and prepared and no nasty additives to worry about for your own health needs or that of friends who may have food allergies or sensitivities...
Everything old is new again? Life is a lot of cycles. Don't know where we'll be in 50 years, but it is interesting to see how far we've come, and yet some at least still want to/need to go back to the basics at some point in time... and often for good reasons...
Connecting the generations is a big part of it. My paternal grandmother couldn't cook at all (we kids cried if we had to eat at her house), but she quilted, and when I quilt I feel connected to her.
I hope next summer is less of a continual oven than this. I would like to get into my garden.
I grew up in a gardening/canning/wild-fruit-gathering/jam-making family, and loved it. Now I live on a small crummy lot (sometimes ripped up by the landlord's unpredictable contractors), and for various personal and medical reasons do none of it. I miss the food, though.
My nesting instinct comes out in huge bursts. Thanksgiving dinner is a shared project with friends, and even with a groaning table of wonderful homemade food I feel vaguely guilty that we have storebought crescent rolls instead of homemade biscuits. After the Christmas baking spree, when we made several kinds of cookies and candies, I felt it somehow wasn't enough. (Luckily, common sense squashed that feeling!) And yet I am too often content to let my housemate do the day-to-day cooking. I need to get some balance.
I have avoided Christmas baking for the last few years, just because to bake it means to eat it! But I think my lack of Christmasing activities has contributed to my depression, and I'm hoping next year to be rather more Christmas-y.
I do love cooking for a crowd rather than just for two, but now I'm getting so used to cooking for two that it's a bit of a challenge to think up feasts!
I love to craft. I am one of those people who has a thousand and one projects on the go at a time and just picks up the one that appeals to me at any given moment. It takes me ages to actually finish anything that way but I really enjoy the process.
I guess more than anything else I sew. Over the last couple of years I have turned many an old pair of curtains into useable and fun bags.
I like to cook but I go more for the baking side of things than canning and pickles.
I hate gardening. This place has no garden and my hope is that when I move in the summer the new place will have no garden either.
I love all these things more in the ideal than the practice these days. Trying to get my motivation back!
2011-01-06 09:07 pm (UTC)
Puttering in my "nest"
I have always done some sort of craft. I find that when my "digits" are not busy making something my life becomes unbalanced and I am not a "happy camper". Since I retired and now live on my Social Security, I also find myself making lots of soups, mainly vegetable, from the contents of some of my Meals on wheels frozen dinners which I receive each week. That is because there are about ten different meals on the menu. They are all nutritionally balanced, but many of them contain meat which is well laced with soy protein and I happen to be allergic to soy and celery. I have worked soy back into my diet on a limited basis, but still cannot have a lot of it every day. Therefore I take the veggies from my meals and make a nutritious soup with them, adding some tomato paste or broth, often turkey, which I have made from my Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey leg and breast etc bones, concentrated, clarified and frozen in pint sized containers or ice cube trays.
I also often make bread in my bread machines. I recently increased their number to two so that I can make two loaves at the same time, one for me and one to give to whomever in my area has blessed me with some real food leftovers or done some other favor for me. Again, I began baking my own bread to get rid of the soy flour which seems to now permeate store bought bread.
For crafts, I crochet and make jewelry. I can also knit, do macrame, cross stitch, both counted and stamped, do needlepoint and just about any other needle craft including being able to sew well enough to make all of my own clothing, including underwear and seamed stockings, should I choose so to do. I don't right now though. I just got a gift of some quilting supplies so will likely do a bit of that to make nice things to sell on my site, http://www.jemyl.net
or on http://shopjemyl.com
and my etsy store, jemyl41.
I don't do the gardening or canning bit right now. I am considering making some pickles, however, as I have all of the accoutrements(sic) to can, from jars right up through a large pressure canner. When my first husband and I made pickles in the 1970's I really enjoyed it. I just have to find a source for the dill sprigs locally. I will also likely extend my pickling to making pickled mushrooms which I also enjoy.
I do these things to take care of my allergies, because they are fun to do and because they save money. There is also a real sense of accomplishment I get when someone likes and buys my jewelry or other stuff and when I can say "thank you, I made it" in response to a compliment on some item of apparel, embellishment or accessory that I am wearing. Peace -----Ellen
2011-01-06 11:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Puttering in my "nest"
It doesn't take a lot of space to putter, and it sounds like you've got yourself set up very well. I'm very impressed.
The yeast shouldn't be too fussy: warm enough to feel hot is warm enough. If the yeast is not responding, it might have got killed at some point; try a different yeast.
Tiny kitchens are frustrating. It's the only thing I don't like about this house. It's not miniscule, but it could use a lot more space.
And while I like a clean kitchen, I HATE mopping with a passion.
I like the idea of a community canning is one that I really like.
I've never managed to conquer the "cook on the weekends" method.
I read an xkcd comic once that had something in it about restlessly creating instead of passively consuming. That's part of why I started getting into sewing. Another reason was so that I didn't have to rely on other people (clothing companies) to decide what was available for me to wear. I want to have my own garden so that I can spend my time rather than my money on food. (Also, the idea of picking some fresh tomatoes, basil, and oregeno and having my DH turn it into dinner makes me drool just thinking about it.)
Weirdly, I think part of it might be a desire for more freedom. Like, I don't want my choices of clothing to be dictated by what's "in" this year, so I'm starting to sew my own clothes. I don't want to spend lots of money on organic foods, so I want to grow my own. But wasn't that what drove the dream of push-button food in the first place? I dunno. I think what it comes down to is this: money is what is given to me in exchange for hours of my life. Sometimes I'd rather spend the hours than spend the money, especially when the task is enjoyable and creative instead of onerous or consumptive.
I have always found that sewing clothing was more expensive than purchasing. But I do like the idea of independence.
It's a strange pull, the desire to be independent and the desire to be free from the onerous daily tasks.
What you call the new geekery is the old geekery to me. I cook, I make wine, I knit, I sew costumes, I embroider. I want to learn silk painting, batik, weaving, and cheesemaking. I have berry bushes and fruit trees. My grapevines are rubbish at producing grapes, but great at making leaves and gnarled vines for projects.
Why do I do it? I can have clothes that fit me, rather than being too long-waisted. I know what's in my food - and more importantly what isn't. I can make things to my taste - and they're also cheaper and healthier.
And it's satisfying to know that you did it yourself.
"New geekery" in the sense of the last decade or so. There has been a Back to the Land movement for at least three decades, but there is a different group coming into this in the last few years. It's interesting to watch.
I'm impressed with everything you're doing!