Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something Good

When it comes to my mad skillz in the kitchen, they are pretty much non-existent. My kids' favorite meal is Hamburger Helper and my husband usually just looks at what I'm cooking, then fixes something separate for himself. And, to answer your question, YES I find that insulting but I am so used to it by now, I have become desensitized. At least he is doing the fixing for himself.

But, when it comes to canning, I'm not afraid to shine. In the summer of '07, I won 5 first-place ribbons and one second-place ribbons for canned (preserved) foods at the Clinton County Fair. (I could only find 3 of the ribbons for the picture. I think I was using the other 3 for bookmarks.)

That fair, by the way, is exactly the stuff you see (or read about) in Charlotte's Web. There is a parade, Fair Queen pageant, Kettle corn, all types of livestock judging, carnival rides, (local) celebrity cow milking contest, etc. 4-H has a booth selling Lemon Shake-Ups (If you've never had a lemon shake-up, you've never tasted summer.) And, of course, in the exhibition hall there are lots of submissions for judging, like quilts, canned foods, fresh foods, artwork, hand-sewn clothes, woodworking, etc. I submitted pickled asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, dill pickles, apples, and pear honey.That's Texan Papa in the green ball cap. He was a "local celebrity" because he's a pastor. It doesn't take much to be a celebrity, I guess.

There's Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown, and Linus eating watermelon slices off of a frisbee after the very long and hot parade. (I walked with PP and Linus in the parade, 6 months pregnant, pulling a wagon and throwing out candy. Linus walked with the Cub Scouts.) See what I mean about it being a real country fair?

Now, in case you don't know what pear honey is, I am happy to tell you: It is a wonderful sweet spread, much like the consistency of marmalade, but with a taste of honey. However, the honey does not taste sugary-sweet, but rather fruity-sweet. I found a recipe for Pear Honey when I was given 2 bushels of very ripe pears and had no idea what to do with them. Well, as it turns out, pear honey is best made with overripe pears. It's SO simple to make. If you have pear trees or if you get pears from a neighbor, I highly recommend making it. It is so unique and your friends and family will gobble it up! I even made some and put it in small half-cup or half-pint jars and then gave it out with a mini loaf of pound cake at Christmas time. It was a perfect teacher gift and also for the church secretary and organist.

Pear Honey:
8 cups very ripe pears, peeled and crushed
1 cup Pineapple juice
8 cups sugar

Put pears and pineapple juice in a large stock pot. Add sugar. Bring to a full boil and reduce heat to medium for a gentle boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 minutes. Pour into prepared jars*. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Makes 6-7 pints.

When you first pour the mixture into the jars, it will seem a little thin, but it will thicken while the jars are processing in the boiling water. And, once cooled, it will thicken even a little more.

*Prepared Jars are canning jars that have been washed thoroughly and warmed in a canning pot with simmering water. The jars are kept in the simmering water until they are ready to be filled. Processing in boiling water means, once the jars are filled, and new caps and rings are screwed on (tight enough to close but not TOO tight), then the jars are returned to the simmering water with at least 1 inch of water above the caps. The water is returned to a boil. This is NOT using a pressure cooker.


Jen said...

I want to come to the fair with you. That looks like an awesome time. And are you willing to ship me some of this Pear Honey is sounds amazing!

Debbi said...

I LOOOOOOVE canning! really really. Jams and fruit, and pickles. mmm.

Jennifer said...

Pageant you say??? LOL

I want to learn how to can. My grandmother canned all the time. We have a small garden and we have to hurry up and cook everthing before it goes bad every year. Mostly the tomatoes. David is the only one that eats them so it takes longer to rid of them.

Sturgmom said...

I'm so impressed!! I've never canned anything. Congrats on all your prizes!

Christine said...

When did you go all Betty Crocker on me....I was consoling myslef that at least I wasn't the only one who had no culinary masters degree....and then you pull this one out of your hat (sulks). What's next making your own candles and soap? LOL...I am a fan of Pear Honey, my mother;s ext door naughbor made it for years frommy parents pear trees. It rocks!

Wendy said...

Okay, I need you to come to my house & demonstrate. I only learn by doing. The dog smells slightly less terrible than before, I promise.

My hubby has always done the same thing! Especially with side dishes. If it ain't beans from a CAN or instant-mashed potatoes (blech!) he doesn't want it. When I get really healthy he pretends he is full and starts keeping a stash of hotdogs or Totino's pizzas around for a bedtime snack. ~shiver~ Blech.

It's hard on me because I never had problems staying thin until we married. And now sometimes I find myself wolfing down foods that would have turned my stomach ten years ago - fried things and grease and too much meat...

I definitely want to try the pear jelly. And my MIL has promised to teach me how to make jalapeno jelly this summer, which she makes in the microwave (!!). If we get this done I'll pass along the recipe.

PS - what does it mean that I'm a "no reply commenter" - does that mean I need to check that box for follow-up comments down there? I will try it.

Ashley said...

My great grandmother used to can every season and my grandmother and her sisters would help. After she passed away, we quite canning. But every time I see something about canning I'm reminded of her. Those were tedious but fun days!

Screwed Up Texan said...

Yes! Congrats on the prizes...I need to learn how to use a pressure canner.