Canning tomatoes- scary!

Dear Reader-

I’m an active pickler, but I haven’t delved into a lot of other canning. They scare me! Ptomaine this, botulism that, who wants to give their friends and family food poisoning?!

But I make a lot of spaghetti sauce, and making it with my own canned tomatoes is an inviting idea. So, I attempt one lowly jar of tomatoes in my canning bath with a batch of pickles.

The recipe is easy. Peel the tomatoes and put them in the jar with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to balance out acidity and kill botulism as it matures. Great, my #1 worry come to pass. I put the jar into the canning bath and set the timer for a long 85 minute processing time. Thirty minutes in I yell out a string of expletives, realizing I forgot the death-averting lemon juice. Failure.

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It cools on the counter, waiting to be tossed. I’m so mad at this point I get in the car, drive to the fruit stand, and buy more tomatoes because now I have something to prove. Sterlizing more jars, remembering the wretched lemon, I cook on, for 85 long, hot minutes.

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My stove was working overtime. It was a lot of work for two prideful jars of darned tomatoes!

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Not my best pickling day. But I will forge on!

Sincerely,

AS The Curl Turns

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Cherry Coke Perfection

Dear Reader-

Today we are veering away from the usual hair topics to discuss something extremely important. Cherry Coke. Not that roughness in the can- homemade.

Hubs and I were at Peggy Sue’s malt shop in Downtown San Jose, and they had the best Cherry Coke I have ever tasted. I swooned over it to the manager and he gave me the secret- maraschino cherry syrup! Forehead slap, of course!!

First in is the ice. Second, spoon in some syrup and a few cherries direct from the jar. Then add the Coke. Finish with a straw. The straw is an important factor in this scenario. It allows you to sip up both juice and soda at the same time. Voila! Cherry Coke at its finest! And for all you retro kids out there, that is indeed a paper straw.

You are welcome.

ATCT

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p.s- changing your baby somewhere other than your own home? Travel with puppy training pads. They are perfect to lay your baby on while changing a diaper, and they are disposable.

A New Year’s Resolution Kept!

Dear Reader-

Glamour Up! was my New Year’s Resolution advice for 2015. Even if it is only once a month for something nondescript. I wanted you all to know that I take my own advice and try to walk the walk as much s possible. I attend Bingo at the local Elks lodge once a month, and I utilize this opportunity to gussy up once in a while. I went last night and I wore vintage mink and heels. Yes, I said mink. I was definitely the most overdressed person there by far, and I will tell you this, my dear readers. I was the best dressed one there as well.

So- even if you feel a bit self conscious about being over dressed, let me say this: you will clearly be the better looking of all your peers, so who cares?! Grandma always said there is an outfit for every occasion, but As The Curl Turns believes there is a better version of that outfit to be had as well.

Best,

ATCT

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p.s- Is your dog’s stomach on the fritz? Try a plain baked potato.

Happy New Year! One Resolution…

Dear Reader-

Thank you all for making this year a hoot and a half, and another half hoot. If you make any resolutions this year, make this one- glamour. Glamour hair, glamour face, glamour clothes. At least once a month. Take care of the glamour puss inside of you, don’t deny her! ♡

Best Regards,

ATCT

Christmas Tree Hair Accessory-DIY

Dear Reader-

This hair accessory, like some of my others, is not for the faint of heart. You will be wearing a Christmas tree in your hair. Literally. If you are ok with that, then let’s get started!

First, I had to find a tree small enough. What an odyssey that was. Of course manufacturers of these little hobby trees are making them for home display, or office holiday cheer. Not hair. So I bought the smallest one I could possibly find, and disassembled it. It had a cement stand!

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Then I had to use wire cutters to dismember the poor thing. It was far too heavy. I needed fewer limbs and a flat back so I could lay it on some felt, and ultimately, on my head.. It took two different types of wire cutters to get through this bad boy! It needed to be thinned out, A LOT.

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Once that was done, I could start decorating. First to be added were the ornaments. I tied them on, one by one, strategically placed.

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Then came the lights. I couldn’t find dollhouse lights that had a battery pack light enough for my hair to support the weight, so unfortunately, they don’t actually light up. Disappointment.

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And what is a tree without gifts? I laid the tree to the felt and glued the gifts onto the felt and the bottom of the tree.

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Cut the felt, add the duckbill hair clip, and it’s done! I could not find a small enough angel for the top, another item for the search- along with working lights. Now you have to decide how you will wear your hair to best accent (and support) your newest accessory.

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Now, be prepared to take a bit of blowback from your friends and passerby. You are after all, taking a fashion chance by wearing this piece of glory. Others of a lesser station may feel the need to say something snippy about your choice of accoutrement. Just tell this riffraff that you love your style and will never compromise. Period.

Merry Christmas Crafties!

ATCT

p.s- don’t forget to at least tidy up your living room before leaving the house this holiday season. You never know who may be dropping by with good tidings.

Canning Homemade Strawberry Jam

Dear Reader-

As one starts to pickle, she begins to feel more brazen about canning. Maybe death isn’t imminent from ptomain poisoning. Maybe I can do this! What else can I try?

For me the next step was jam. Hubs grandmother has given us her jam before, and it is always so tasty. I find an age old recipe for strawberry jam that is not too intimidating, where else? The Farmers Almanac! We grow a small crop of strawberries in our Victory Garden, so the first step is to harvest what I can, and I purchase the rest.

These lilliputian strawberries are my favorite. What they lack in size they make up for in cuteness and perfect shape.

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They need to be hulled and mashed. I have a lot of old kitchen utensils that I love to use. That is actually an old potato masher. Thanks Mom!

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Next we mix in the sugar and cook the fruit mixture. Mmmmm, healthy!

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Now we use all the canning equipment and other ingredients. This includes the most essential piece-the beer. This does not go into the jam. This goes into my mouth.

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We have been sterilizing the jars to prevent death. This is the new jar grabber that came with my canning kit.

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This is my old one. It was a promotional item given away by the garage Bertone and Bowen, complete car service. Fun stuff, right?

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Now the fruit is cooked, the jars are sterilized, and it is time to rush the concoction into the jars and the jars into the canning bath for 10 minutes before they become contaminated by some sort of deadly virus. Man, those canning people sure scare you when it comes to sterilizing! I’m all about it, but the Black Plague part scares the you-know-what out of me!

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Now it cools and you anxiously await the POP! I anxiously await 5 POPS! actually. The wait is long, as this fruit is incredibly hot!

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I steal a canning label from a World War 2 propaganda poster about canning and make it my own. After 60 years isn’t it public domain anyway? And voila! Jam!

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Making jam was kind of like making pickles or dilly beans. Sterilizing, cooking for 10 minutes, cooling…….now that I have the hang of it, who knows?

Best,

ATCT

p.s- if your jam is a little runny, add a bit of Sure Jell next time.

 

Pickling-The Gateway to Canning for the Inexperienced Like Me

Dear Reader-

Friends of ours have a huge garden. They grow 500lb pumpkins and prizewinning Dahlias, among many other treasures. She gave me pickling cucumbers straight from the ground, and I wanted to make pickles. I have been interested in canning and pickling for quite a while, so I ordered a canning kit. While I waited for that to arrive, I made refrigerator pickles.

I am fairly proud. They are so pretty!

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The canning kit arrives, and it is large and a bit intimidating. But I am ready for homemade pickled vegetables, especially dills, so I decide it will not conquer me. I put my fears of botulism and ptomaine poisoning aside.

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I pickle asparagus and they come out unattractive and shrivelly. The forums tell me I am not a failure, that asparagus tends to do that. Especially since I picked the only recipe in existence that does not balance the vinegar with equal parts water. They are a bit tart! I also wonder if I boiled them too high, so I decide I will remedy that with my precious dills.

However, they are very good in my Bloody Marys!

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I decide on a pickling recipe from The Old Farmers Almanac (http://www.almanac.com/content/pickling-tips-and-recipes). It has some good looking stuff! The first step is the brining overnight.

There is sooooo much salt poured over the top of these cucumbers!

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Next you make the vinegar concoction and sterilize the jars. Sterilizing varies depending on who you talk to. The instructions basically tell you that unless you sterilize the jars properly you will drop dead. I ignore the fear and push on. Now starts the mad rush of stuffing the newly sterilized won’t kill you jars with all the cucumbers, garlic, dill, peppercorns, mustard seed, chili pepper flakes, and whatever else you like. Then you pour the boiling vinegar concoction into the jars, leaving only 1/2 inch at the top. Thank the Lord for all the tools my canning kit came with. That funnel really does the ‘do.

Then you have time to take a picture of what you are doing.

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These then go into the boiling bath for 10 minutes. Not the roiling bath that made my previous attempts at pickling asparagus shrivel like chicken feet.

Note my special tongs!

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10 minutes on the clock. The timer chimes and the hopefully not poisoned jars are set on a rack to cool, and most importantly-POP. The lids should seal and you will hear a very loud ‘pop’. These jars are wicked hot so it took a while. If they don’t seal properly you can still eat them, but you can’t store them. I am aiming for perfection of course so I am listening for the telltale ‘pop’ that lets me know I am not a failure. They seal and cool to room temperature overnight.

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Now to make them cute. Labels, ribbon, all you craftys know the drill. I print my favorite rationing poster and use them as my labels, and attach them with special yarn from my fathers now retired dog grooming shop.

I think they look like real pickles!

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We taste them and they are (thankfully) delicious! I can’t wait to do it again. More pickled vegetables, then on to jams and preserves! Oh my!

Sincerely,

ATCT