Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can you dig it?

My beautiful tri-color potatoes!
What is it about canning jars that makes them so beautiful?
 Guess what we did last Sunday?

That's right, me and two of my favorite gal pals canned!  It was super fun.  Anyone who knows me knows that it is just next to impossible to keep me inside when the weather is nice.  Add in the word "kitchen" and I am definitely AWOL... So you know it takes some fun friends to keep me by the stove top on one of the last of the nice fall days!

Lisa and me "stirrin' the pot"
Jamie, Lisa and I spent the day cooking and canning salsa and potatoes.  I have only one photo of Jamie, as she moves pretty quickly and absconded with the photo taking device early on in the proceedings.

There's Jamie! Moving so fast her hair is in a twirl!
Lisa brought her salsa ingredients chopped and ready to go.  I had big plans to make salsa too, but when I went to harvest the last of my tomatoes in the little greenhouse... well let's just say that not looking at them for a week in hopes that the frost hadn't frozen them is not really an effective strategy.  Think cheap, thin plastic bag filled with water- that was the consistency of my enormous, yet inedible tomato beauties :(

Lisa needed a couple more cups of peppers for her salsa, so she started cutting up some freebies I had gotten at work.  She even tasted them and said they were not hot at all.  She gave me a little piece and Holy Smacks!  I had to spit it out.  I thought they were anchos, but apparently they were jalapenos!
um... yeah, I didn't take the finished jar of salsa that was generously offered (I have zero tolerance for hot stuff!)

Here are some beautiful photos of the salsa!!

Hot stuff baby, woo hoo...

Pretty pretty!!
One thing I have to tell you is you must be very careful when working around boiling water and hot canning jars.

Notice my rapt attention on the boiling hot jar...
Lisa is a little more careful here, filling the jars!

Jamie spent the morning scrubbing and peeling the potatoes from my garden.(Thank you Jamie- you're the bomb!) 

I love canning potatoes (you MUST pressure can them!).  Well, I don't know if I love the canning part, but I love having ready to heat and eat potatoes for the rest of the year!

Here they are all scrubbed up and the scabby ones peeled, ready to be chopped into chunks. 
Here I am sporting my cute new apron that my sister got me for my birthday!
Into the pressure cooker with you!
And just a short 3 hours later...
Just to clarify, the taters don't get pressure canned for 3 hours, but you have to:
  1. scrub, peel, chunk them (Only the scabby ones got peeled, the rest got to retain their beautiful unblemished skins)
  2. Par boil them for about 2 minutes (which really means about twenty minutes from the time you drop those babies in a water filled pot and turn the burner on)
  3. pack the jars with parboiled potatoes
  4. remember that you were supposed to boil water to pour over them
  5. boil water
  6. ladle boiling water over the potatoes in the jars
  7. realize that you didn't put enough lids in the heating water
  8. put lids (mostly heated up) and rings on
  9. remember that you should have turned up the heat on the pressure cooker burner
  10. put the jars in, lock the lid down, realize you will have to spin the whole pot around so that you can read the gauge
  11. wait for the water to boil inside the sealed cooker (steam has to escape through the little valve for 10 minutes before you seal it)
  12. Remember that you never turned the heat up
  13. Turn up the heat
  14. Frantically run around trying to remember where you put the weight that seals the cooker steam valve (amazingly, it is in the box with all the canning stuff in a bag labeled: Pressure Cooker Regulator)
  15. Drop the regulator on the steam valve and wait for it to build to 12 pounds (this takes way longer than you would imagine...)
  16. Freak out a little because you forgot that the plug thing on the front is supposed to pop up- it is not the emergency pressure relief valve.
  17. Fiddle with the temperature control knob trying to keep it at 12 pounds for then next 40 minutes.
  18. Move it off the burner to cool, so you can get the lid off without an explosion (I don't remember exactly, but it seemed like an hour)
  19. Repeat from step 3 for the next batch...
 We had chocolate cake too, but apparently we were too busy eating it to photograph it!!

All in all a very productive day and big thanks to Jamie and Lisa for coming over to make it happen.  I will think of you every time we eat potatoes this year! (well, I'm sure I will think of you all at other times too, but you know what I mean!)