Category Archives: Canning and Preserving

making the shift

Boy, is it good to be home!

Something I adore about holiday, as much as the actual holiday, is the return home. Stay away long enough and a certain deep gratification is aroused. We’ve returned to cooler temps, lovely afternoon showers and happy animals.

Also upon return is the motivation to really get things done. We’ve talked long enough. The flower beds have an appointment with my shovel and hands as well as the mulch pile. The dead locust trees have finally met their end, leaving their sole purpose to warming the fires this winter.The grass is cut, the house is clean and the corn is canned! Other projects on the to do list, each with their own appointment, will be met with determination!

Other things I appreciate about holiday is the reminders while away. When you slow down, put work aside and really partake in the break, you are reminded of things you like to do. Like, sitting on the porch and reading a book. Doing yoga. Coloring with the kid, etc. Prior to holiday I did loads of coloring, but rarely any reading and definitely not yoga. Coming home I have brought these little treats back. Making it a point to treat myself. Balance the day with 15 minutes of reading. 10 minutes of yoga in the morning. While those aren’t ideal amounts of time to indulge in these habits, it is still a treat. I don’t lose my day, my work or my time with my child. And that is exactly what a holiday is! Sweet reminders that, yes, somehow, it can all be done!

ONE LOVE-


fresh local yummy

Who says you can’t eat well on holiday?

With friends, family and birthdays upon us we have been blessed with a bounty of local goods. Enough local goods to last the remainder of the holiday and into the canner upon arrival of returning home! My brother (yea, that guy) graced our tables once again!

The corn has arrived.

As well as a bushel of fresh, local Blue Crab

It’s what’s for dinner!

For RCB’s 5th birthday (!!!!!!) we gathered around the table, cracked the crab, slurped the sweetest corn and chomped shrimp. It was fun, full of laughter, sheer enjoyment, not to mention absolutely delicious.

However, 10 of us could only eat but so much leaving us plenty of leftovers. On holiday, this is great! Lunch the next day was just as delicious and grand as the dinner. Cracked crab to make crab salad for crab rolls (mimicking lobster rolls), cut the corn and blended it with raw vegetables, ginger and jalapeno (oh. my. so. good.) for a vegetable salad. A super compliment to the crab roll.

Dinner served the shrimp its final purpose. Tossing the shrimp in some fettucini noodles with asparagus, avocado, red onion and garlic. Seasoned with sea salt, black peppercorn, and olive oil. Sprinkled with red pepper flakes and parmesan chunks. Light and satisfying, full of flavor. A nice meal to round out the rainy afternoon while sipping on a crisp white wine.

Our future consist of ferry rides, island tromping and lunch al fresco. The kids are getting their groove, sharing and playing nicely. Waves have been surfed. Sandcastles built. Epic card games played. Happy food consumed.

ONE LOVE-


the heat is on

(the sunflower. essence of summer. gifted in csa box)

I’m sure you can only imagine where we’ve been. Yep. We’ve been in the kitchen cranking up the canner. And boy have we canned some stuff. We got the green beans canned, potatoes jarred, the lemon mint vinegar put away and managed to get some beet and sage relish under our belts.

During all the time prepping, on top of the time canning, my wheels really began to churn. As we got deeper into the ebb and flow of the canning process the deeper my thoughts went. My first initial thoughts were why would anyone not want to can. The empowerment to take locally grown food and turn it into something for your family to take delight in on those long winter nights is pure pleasure. That was the first twenty minutes.

About an hour into the process I started thinking about my grandmothers, their lives and their chores as farm wives. Children, cooking, cleaning, feeding the farm help, feeding her family, tending to the family garden and canning all the goods that come from the garden. That was their job. Full time, year round, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Grandma Birdie had three children. Grandma Iris had four. Now granted they had help at the house doesn’t mean they were sipping mint julips on the porch while barking orders. No. These were farm wives. They worked their fingers to the bone.

These thoughts led me to begin thinking why women and families left such practices behind. Oh the thoughts started swirling then. Surely, women got tired of the long hours without pay and demanded more respect. No, that really wasn’t it. Not once in Birdie’s life did I ever hear her mutter one negative word about her life. It was what they did. No question. Without pay? They got paid when the crops where sold. Their duties were symbiotic with all duties required on the farm. They were part of their own ebb and flow. Duties required to make a farm successful, just like planting, watering and tending the crops.

So, if it wasn’t that then really what was the reason? We are probably two hours in now for a four hour process. A break from my thoughts to help tend to my own child and animals. Of course, I have help. My husband is partaking 100% in the processing which actually has me involved only half of the time as my predecessors. Once I return though I am right back into thought.

I start thinking back to all the farm stories I heard my entire childhood. My PopPop would gather the men all around at every family gathering and he would roar out stories. The good, the bad, the ugly. Smaller farms were getting bought out by big Corporate companies. So, what now? Maybe those wives didn’t have a choice but to find work outside of the home to help support their families. My grandmothers continued to stay home and tend to their homes, gardens, now grandchildren and canning. I do believe that the population split for many reasons. Leaving less families canning.

Bringing along the baby boomers. Our mothers. Fighting for all. Why do we have to stay home clean your mess? We won’t go into the details but strong woman became a logo in many homes. I’m certain this was the demise of canning. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for the stand. The cause was and is great. There are more and more opportunities for women like myself to succeed in the work place. I am able to be a successful co-owner of a business that is doing extremely well. My partner, aka husband, is proud to run our business side by side. Equally. But I’m not really concerned about the political issues women face, not in this post anyway! I’m here, in thought, trying to figure out what happened to the task of canning.

Here comes my generation. Generation X. The Generation that all feared. Well, maybe not feared but with a name like that there doesn’t seem like there was much confidence in us! We are the generation, all of us, ALL men and women,  trying to find a balance between parenting, working, house chores, choosing and maintaining sustainable practices. We are trying to connect with our past and flow with the future. Make them work together. So, we both clean the house, both answer customer service calls, both tend to the child, both choose new practices and figure out how to do them together.

As we are doing this all together there still feels like there is a gap. While we were both prepping the potatoes, the water bath, the jars, and lids our child was left to entertain herself. A little TV here, torture the dog there (the dog thrives on the torture:), play with her toys in her room. All fine, positive skills. The balance was/is hard for me. I like to interact with her. We do that whole attachment parenting thing. Even though she doesn’t nurse or sleep with us anymore (all her choice) we still like to connect with her. Challenge her. Help her strive. For the time being, until she is old enough to partake, canning in the kitchen took me away from that. Some recipes take up to 4-5 hours.

So where’s the balance? It titter totters everyday for all us. It is an art we all try to master. Canning is making a come back. I love the craft. Can’t wait to teach the child. However, if you can’t find room for it in your life without throwing off all your balance then that is ok too. At the end of the day you have to do what is right for your family. Make choices with your spouse that are right for you all. As for me, I will choose specific days to can. Not go wild like last week. It was a bit heated (literally) with the canner on full steam for three and half days straight. It is hard. It is time consuming. It is rewarding. Just remember, if you choose to can, respect your time and energy. If not, that ok too.

ONE LOVE-

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full support

My Mom and Daddy have given me their full support when it comes to my canning endeavors.

Upon our arrival for a long weekend with my folks and bro I heard my Daddy say, “I need to go to the tractor supply store if you want to ride.” We piled into the four door diesel truck and headed up the road. While gathering his odds and ends he decided I needed some real canning supplies! It was premeditated on his part. No more boiling water spilling over my makeshift canner.

When we realized they were all out of canners we piled back in the truck, headed to the garden center and hardware store. They, too, said they were sold out. But when my Daddy asked about a pot for steaming oysters the guy was shocked to find a pressure cooker and canner on the shelf. The last two.

So, with canners in tow we headed to the farmers market. Green Beans, Beet Relish and a bucket of Potatoes (gifted by my brother) will hit the boiling waters this week! Stepping up the game for sure! Never used a pressure cooker before…

(Also, when I got home my Mother-in-Law had gifted my husband with a canning cookbook for Father’s Day! That’s my kind of gift! Thanks Meena!)

Thanks Daddy. Thanks Mom. Even at the age of thirty-five it is still nice to have parental support!

ONE LOVE-


just peachy

I never really considered myself a southern girl. I mean, I am from the south, my family are farmers and I love bar-b-que. Yes, I’m southern. But, as noted, I don’t have the greenest thumb considering my background and I leave the south a lot to travel.  It wasn’t till I started cooking, baking and eating local, seasonal fruits and vegetables that I recognized just how rooted I am in my southernness. Defining southern summers is when I accepted there is no denying, I am deeply southern. Two definitions for starters, Watermelon and Peaches.

So, when we went down the mountain to visit our friends located on the NC/SC border it was like a kid in a candy store when they took us to a local fruit and veggie stand. Why the giddiness? Three words. South Carolina Peaches. Juicy, ripe, ready to devour southern peaches! And boy did we slurp! Between the Nectarines and the Peaches we were quite sticky.

Of course, we bought some home as they are starting to show up at the stores but not the outdoor markets just yet. Ever since I was gifted with the “Canning and Preserving with Ashley English” book I have been counting down the days to make the Peach Lavender Butter. Yes, that is what I said!! We have three over the top, beautiful lavender bushes we planted when we moved into our current residence. Never used them for culinary purposes until just recently. I couldn’t be more thrilled with this treat of deliciousness. More thrilled with the opportunity to can such delicacy!

After gathering all the ingredients and contents to can we started at 9:00 am and finished up right around 11:30.

Blanched the beauties, which is an amazingly simple task!

Stored and ready for winter delights!

Check out this post of the same recipe from same author in detail!

Happy Summer Slurping!!

ONE LOVE-


about that project

The times are getting good over here! Baby Barr made his entrance into the world last night and we couldn’t be more tickled for two (now three) of our favorite people. Oh the sweet newborn days they have just embarked upon!! Embrace the moment, for however long it may seem it passes with the blink of an eye! Congratulations Erin and Andy! Much Love!

While they were working on laboring the child yesterday we three here were busy bees with fun projects. (Look for tomorrows post on specific project details) As for the herb garden, it is a no go. We’ve had some amazing, torrential downpours this spring. Each rain the plot gets flooded. While trying to find solutions that, to no avail, do not work we agree this is not the spot. As beautiful as it could be it simply would not survive. So, we will put the herb garden on the middle burner with the chicken coop to re-evaluate this fall. No worries, with our pending travel it is probably wise to wait till fall when we have to grow up and become real adults. Our daughter is starting Kindergarten. We will be forced to the school schedule, leaving us to find things to busy our outside of work time with other things besides traveling!

Plans for fall:

Put in raised beds (start with 2)

Plant two Apple Trees

Plant two Cherry Trees

Plant two Blueberry Bushes

Pick a Chicken Coop and actually purchase it for spring chickens

We work best if we plan far in advance. Gather materials for the next few months. Then set a specific date to install. Fall is a start. A date will be set in August.

What is up your sleeve? Do you choose a project and get to it right away? Or do you take is slow, like us, as to not get discouraged?

We are getting canning under our belts pretty good this summer. Really finding and following the local produce schedule. We are starting to depend on our CSA and the Farmer’s Market more and more. This was one of the choices we made in order to begin our transition into becoming more sustainable as a family. Baby steps are good. Choose something, step slowly and eventually it will become second nature. Part of what you do. Once a month we buy whole chickens and make chicken broth. Every other week we make sourdough bread to service our sandwich and toast needs. We started a compost last summer and are amazed with the results. Canning is our current task to master. This fall, prepping gardens and orchards and chickens.

Sometimes it feels like we are not getting anything accomplished. Yes, that is life. Things do get in the way. But looking back and telling you about it, it is happening just like it needs to, for me any way. I am really learning. Doing. Not getting discouraged!

Have a great hump day!

ONE LOVE-


little blue book

It is time to step it up a notch. Since Ball is the the mothership of all things canning I thought this would be a good book to start with.

I have been thinking and researching for some time (way too long, really) different canning recipe books. There are many to choose from on the world wide web. Too many sometimes for me. I often get overwhelmed with choices and will find myself just putting the research up only to return to it again. No real results.

Until yesterday while browsing through the grocery, casually walking by the canning section to get to the trash bags. Stuffed sloppily behind the boxes of canning supplies was the “Ball Blue Book, guide to preserving”. For once, without hesitation, I picked up the book and put it in the basket. This is a start. While it is not fancy with lots of pretty pictures it is a back to the basics book full of recipes. Pages and pages of nothing but recipes. While I use this one currently as my guide (and will remain my visual + I can’t wait to make the beet relish, missed the Strawberry Vanilla spread but did make the killer jam…) It is nice to have more recipes at my finger tips. Just adding to the loot of cook books.  A new collection.

As a side note, stumbled upon this blog a few weeks ago. The book looks good. Since it is recommended by the author of said book linked above it has been put on the new list.

A few recipes picked out of the Ball Book that will get started this week. Like the one using mint. Lemon Mint Vinegar. Our friend Samantha gifted us with some spearmint (and basil) over the weekend that  will serve a good purpose for the vinegar!!

ONE LOVE-