vendredi 19 août 2011


Last night, I learned how to make my own preserves. I mentioned to a former colleague - now retired - that I would love to learn how, as no one in my family makes preserves. It seemed like a scary process and I was afraid to try and fail, wasting a ton of food in the process (not to mention time!). But after last night's lesson, I feel confident enough to try on my own.

I think preserving is a skill that very few people of my generation (and even of my parents'!) have kept. My former colleague S is of the baby boomer generation (she's exactly 40 years older than me, in fact!). She has been making preserves for years. I feel so lucky to know her! (Not just for her preserving skills, of course!) There are a few "older" skills that are becoming trendy again with my generation, actually (e.g. knitting and crocheting). I suppose it's because those things were never forced upon us like maybe they were for people of Generation X. We're genuinely interested in learning. Well, I am, anyway!

So back to last night. We made marmelade, because S already had canned oranges we could use - saving us the cutting and prepping of fruits or vegetables, which is the longest step. It's a good thing we did a "short" canning recipe because even if we started around 6 p.m., we didn't end up sitting down for dinner until 9:30 p.m.! (I'm guessing that, from start to finish, the process probably took around two hours.)

What I loved most is that S let me do everything myself. I had told her about the first "real" piece of furniture I built and not wanting my father to do anything for me - I appreciated his advice (a lot!), but I wanted to DO everything myself!! For two reasons: first, to learn how (I learn best by doing, not watching), and second, to be able to say I had made the piece entirely by myself. It may seem silly, but I've always wanted to "do it myself". I hate when people say, "oh, here, let me do it, it'll be faster" rather than teach me how (give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you'll feed him for a lifetime -- isn't that how it goes?).

Anyway, S had remembered me telling her about that, and so the first thing she said when we started is, "I'm not going to touch a thing, I'm going to let you do everything yourself!". Of course, there are some instances where it was great for her to demonstrate something first - but THEN she let me do it myself! ;) She even insisted that I keep the whole batch of marmelade, saying it was mine since I had made it from start to finish! (Never mind that I had used her ingredients, her kitchen and her expertise! She even insisted on printing off some stickers for the jars for me. (They say "Kim's Gingery Marmelade".)

There are so many recipes that I want to try now: jams, jellies, fruit conserves, pickled vegetables, relishes and ketchups (I LOVE chunky, homemade ketchup!)... S also lent me some of her preserving cookbooks (she has at least a dozen!), and I've already picked out several recipes from _The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving_ that I want to try.

As if I needed another hobby! But at least this one is useful. I'm looking forward to giving away jars of food as gifts... and having homemade preserves to eat all year round!

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