Some weeks are like this. I turn on my computer and I’m faced with those little AOL news (sort of) sound bites. They cover everything from torture and sexual abuse to a new little Duggar. I try to avoid them but there they are, like air pollution or modified corn starch, just about impossible to avoid. On those days, when I feel the poison seep into my spirit, I go my dank and damp basement. It’s not a pretty place. The ceiling is low, the walls just stone. There is a maze of pipes and duct work overhead and if you’re spider phobic, you might want to give it a miss. Still, being here gives me a sense of peace and place. What’s there is there because of my labor. I own it in a way I don’t own much else. My jars of sauce are beautiful. The baskets of potatoes solid and satisfying. The neat rows of wine bottles are a pleasure and the cabinet of candle-making supplies hold a promise.
I do find one little irritant down there. Years ago, when I first started preparing for life where there might well be supply interruptions and major spikes in the cost of energy and food, I bought cases of canned goods. Some of them have already fed the pigs. Some were consumed and never replace or at least not replaced with commercial varieties. I no longer purchase tomato products as my garden leaves me with an embarrassment of sauces and salsas. But there are still some things sitting there that I know I need to use up or dispose of. One of these is the canned corn.
I don’t loath canned corn the way I do string beans but there is no way it can compare with the corn I put up in August. In one of those serendipitous moments, I was faced with a case or so of canned corn just as I was rereading Independence Days (Sharon Astyk’s book and if you don’t have it, get it.) Right at the beginning is a depression era recipe for scalloped corn. It’s pretty easy. A can of corn, two cups of milk, three egg yolks, three beaten egg whites, some salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar mixed together and a topping of buttered bread crumbs. it took only a couple of minutes to put it together and 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven to produce a lovely, puffy corn casserole that my family actually ate seconds of. With a cup of tomato soup, this would have been a meal in itself. I served it with some long-simmered beef and onions and some pickles. Part of my 100 days of prepping is going to include using the food. I can make this ones a week and the corn will be gone before you know it. I’m going to try it with creamed corn next time. I have a lot of that too.
I had one other 100 days experiment. I still had a few gallons of cranberries to use up but I already have a lot of sauce. I decided to dry them as we like cranberry bread and it will be nice to have them on hand. I first dipped the berries in boiling water until the skins popped. Like blueberries and grapes, the skins must be split to prevent case hardening, a condition where the center of a fruit remains moist, even when the exterior is dry. This leads to a mold problem. I popped the skin then placed the berries on the dehydrator trays. One thing I did need to do was keep going back, every hour or so, and popping any berries that had not spit in the boiling water. I was still finding unpopped berries after 7 hours. It was easy to identify them as they were puffy and shiny and I just used a skewer to give them a poke. After 9 hours, the fruit was not quite dry so I turned of the Excalibur and got up early today to finish them off. I plan to vacuum seal the fruit in pint jars as I have a lot of those jars sitting empty and 1 pint is about what I’ll need for a batch of bread or muffins. When I use them, I’ll increase the water in the recipe by a 1/2 cup which should rehydrate them nicely although I may have to fiddle with amount unless I have a reader with a more precise measure)
My oldest son is getting me a camera for Christmas and my DIL is giving me a tutorial so I can post videos and pictures without help. I’m looking forward to having pictures available on a regular basis without having to rely on others time and energy.