Yes, I Can Can

Family Friday

I still make plans in the fall. Nowadays they’re usually more or less domestic. I thought this year they were going to be just that–plans, and nothing else, like the ones Shelley-Down-the-Street and I used to make when we were kids. This year my plan was to make our pile of rapidly softening tomatoes from the garden into salsa. I also had a hankering to make some rhubarb chutney. I have never made either of those two things, but I was planning on canning them, and I the first time I ever canned anything was last year when I made this really yummy green tomato relish, so I didn’t figure the recipe mattered as much as practicing canning did.

relish

We relished it. This is all that’s left.

What with work and studies, however, I couldn’t see how I was going to have time to do canning, too, which in any case can be time consuming, but particularly if you’ve only done it one other time and are still mostly clueless. I was gearing myself up to do a lot of juicing instead, but I feared even that wouldn’t get us through all the tomatoes before a bunch of them went bad.

We got home from our long weekend in the Middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire, around noon, and I decided I was just going to go for it. I went online to look for a can-able salsa recipe, picked up some supplementary canning supplies, and spent the next four or so hours roasting peppers (also from the garden), blanching tomatoes, peeling them, chopping everything, sterilising jars . . . But I made about seven pint-sized jars of the stuff, which processed nicely and are now sitting in our root-cellar-ish basement. I think in future I’d put in more cilantro and leave the cumin out altogether, but it’s still decent enough to munch with a bag of corn chips–and maybe some sour cream.

As evidenced by the level at which this jar already is.

As evidenced by the level at which this jar already is. Half full? Half empty? You decide.

After that was all done, I looked up this rhubarb chutney recipe I had discovered before. It has ginger and rhubarb, both of which I like, and the woman’s blog is interesting . . . The chutney making was much quicker and easier than the salsa making; however, in the end, I was disappointed. The Hungry Tigress made a point of noting her dislike of many chutneys and that this one in particular did not have garlic in it. All the other recipes I had found for the stuff called for garlic, and some for turmeric as well. Without those two ingredients, the chutney tasted kind of like the mince filling of those tiny little mince pies you can buy in the shops in England at Christmas time, which is all right I guess, if you like that kind of thing.

(photo credit: BBC Food)

I used to love those little mince pies, but a) they’re little and b) I only ever “needed” to eat one. (photo credit: BBC Food)

I wasn’t sure what on earth I was going to do with seven jars of a substance with which neither my Paul and I were overly enamoured. Plus, three of the seven jars didn’t even seal for some reason. I decided I was going to bring them all to the Youth Group bake sale last Sunday and hope someone would pity us enough to buy them.

Who wouldn't want to buy this ambiguous-looking stuff?

Who wouldn’t want to buy this ambiguous-looking stuff?

But then Paul made roast chicken during the week. I took one of the jars of chutney which hadn’t sealed and dumped it in a pan. I crushed a clove of garlic into it, and put a small amount of powdered turmeric in and sizzled it all up together.

Yum. And so good for you, too!

Yum. And so good for you, too!

Then I put it on the chicken. The resulting taste was something like this Persian chicken I’ve had in restaurants in Europe, the name of which I do not know and and which I have never been able to find since. I was immediately won over.

So I guess next year I’ll make rhubarb chutney with garlic and turmeric. But I’m keeping the stuff I made this year, too. It’s not difficult to doctor up.

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