Canning, take two.

Canning, take two.

In addition to the siren call of the season, the time constraints of my upcoming bike tour has gently persuaded me to more thoroughly plan out my food preservation for the year. The result: nearly twenty jars of various produce, now fashioned into delectable pickles, sauces and jams.

The first canning session focused on early summer treats – bean and cucumber pickles and a spontaneous batch of raspberry rhubarb ginger jam.

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Yesterday’s preservation was all about tomatoes. Around 25 lbs of in season, perfectly ripe ruby orbs to boil into submission as salsa and sauce.

First the blanching, to remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds.

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Then blending, to hasten the sauce creation. My relief at having my housemate’s Ninja blender to aid this process was boundless.

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Then, after additions of onions, garlic, jalepenos and basil for the salsa and Italian sauce respectively, the mixtures were jarred, preserved in a hot water bath, and finally set to cool and admire on the dining room table.

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It may not feed a community house of six for a whole winter, but it will certainly feel like summer’s latent Christmas when we crack one of these jars on a dark and snowy January evening.

Womanifesto: A Spring Return to Speaking My Piece

It’s been far too many months since I’ve written, and there is no excuse for that, other than I have had far too much to say and far too few words to say it with.  But it’s never too late, yes?  I shall begin my valiant return to blogging with a recounting of my recently written Womanifesto, inspired by Cunt by Inga Muscio.

Lauren Meredith’s Womanifesto

I am a creature of passion, a being who rejoices in connection, emotion, growth.

I refuse to be told that I feel too strongly about something.  Contrary to our cultural belief, I believe that bottling up, walling off, or otherwise denying your emotions is for the tragically emotionally stunted.  I will cry and rage when I hear or read about rape/racism/torture/any other kind of violence because I AM A HUMAN BEING.  I will support others in their responsive emotions too, and together, TOGETHER, we will figure out what to do next.

I am a creature of desire, desire for wind and waves, for multitudes of orgasms, for safety, for companionship.  Desire to constantly grow in and with change, acknowledging both my personal past and my shared human history while always, always, always looking forward toward a future of POSSIBILITY for more justice, more love, more openness.

I am a creature of the earth and the sky.  I want and need to live from my intuition, to sink my hands and feet and sometimes whole body into the gloriously sweet smelling and fertile earth.  I am connected to the trees, the ferns, the rocks of the river, and the birds, and I live more lives through them.

I am a creature who is learning to love her body, apart and away and in spite of the gaze and expectations of others.  I am learning that I am strong and flexible, that I can create with both my mind and my hands, that I can be voluptuous and sensual because IT FEELS GOOD, NOT because anyone else wants me to be.  I will adorn myself as I please.

I am a creature who demands respect, vulnerability, openness, and creativity, and is glad to give all of these things in abundance.  Moreover, I DESERVE THESE THINGS, and so does every other compassionate being.  I am worthy of love and care, and will accept no less.

This is my life.  I will live in riotous abandon and abundance.

An Internal Audit of Sorts

MayDay sloth
One of the floats at the MayDay parade, a perfect reminder.

It’s been high time I examine what I’m doing with myself and why, for weeks now really.  I spend my time on what sometimes seems like an unreasonable number of things, and manage to both get carried away by the tide of time and activity and constantly question what and why and how and when.  So I did a bit of an internal audit, a review of my life and passions at present, in hopes that I will better discern my path.  The whole thing is very ‘I’ centric, something I try to avoid but of course cannot when examining my motivations for action and persistence.

What I’m wondering is this: What am I doing with my life right now?  Why am I doing it?  What do I want to be doing more of?  Less of?

I have a handful of blurbs to answer these questions, and rather than post an absurdly lengthy single piece, will share it with the cloud over the next week or so.  Following is the first.  Any insight from readers on what you hear underneath what I am saying about how I should be spending my energies would be much appreciated, critical or otherwise.

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I’m working at the Community Council.  I spend a lot of time at the computer, on email, sitting and typing and just generally being remarkably sedentary.  I want to do less of this.  However, I also spend a good amount of time in meetings.  I enjoy the smaller meetings, the informal ones where I get to catch up and connect and problem solve.  I really like biking to various things, working with the Transition Town group, and doing the interviews with people for the Energy Resilience Group eblast.  I’ve also enjoyed learn about and having an effect on zoning and development in the neighborhood- it’s crazy work to be doing considering the fact that I’m not at all educated in planning, but it’s interesting and important and I feel like my role as community organizer matters in processing information from the city for the neighborhood to get people involved in more complicated things that are actually really important.

In January I Read…

Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
I alternately loved and absolutely abhorred the heroine, respecting her spunk and tenacity one minute and despising her weakness for Southern high society the next.  I also pictured Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable the. entire. time.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy was a one sitting read to be sure, briefly broken only for mock duck pad thai, medium spiciness of course.

Farm City – Novella Carpenter
This fantastic book makes every aspect of urban farming seem utterly approachable and delightful (albeit almost certainly messy).  I want backyard chickens and raised beds brimming with vegetables immediately.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
I couldn’t resist the final installation of the Hunger Games trilogy.  These books are like candy; addictive yet easily forgotten once consumed.  Worth reading for the sheer adrenaline thrill, but as with many series I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending.

Mathilda Savitch – Victor Lodato
Fabulous and utterly disarming.  Novels written from the voice of an adolescent can be quite awful or spot on, and this was certainly the latter.
“I want something else, but the words for it haven’t been invented yet.”

Plenty – Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
This was my second read of this delightful account of a year of local eating (something I don’t often do because there are JUST SO MANY wonderful books in the world, so why return to the same ones all the time?) in British Columbia, a place I hope to visit that is so near and dear to my other heart home, the Puget Sound area.
“Making jam had taken all afternoon and evening, but the last thing I’d call it was work.  It was living.”

A fun postscript: one of the Freshly Pressed posts of today is also about books read in January!  And the author and I not only have two books in common, but another of her reviews is of a book that’s in my library queue.  What a small, beautiful world…

In and Out in 2012

I’m finally catching up on some of my favorite blogs (and should note that I have an insane 69 blogs in my Google Reader feed, though they don’t all post frequently, and some of them ever anymore), and came across this great piece from Transition Voice on what’s really in and out for 2012.  A few highlights:

Out: Jobs.  In: Free Time.
Out: Lawns.  In: Edible Landscaping.
Out: Seth Godin.  In: Wendell Berry.
Out: Wii.  In: Climbing Trees.

A few I’d add for my own life, some of them reframed from items in the article’s list:

Out: Cell phones.  In: Handwritten letters.
Out: Screen time.  In: Garden time.
Out: Worrying.  In: Creating.

Whether 2012 brings the apocalypse, a dreadful natural disaster, even more political upheaval, or nothing negative of substance at all, I want to live it heartily, in real time, doing what I love and spending time with the many marvelous people I am lucky enough to call kindred spirits.

The best zucchini I have ever eaten.

Between last week’s CSA share and this week’s, we ended up with an inordinate amount of squash, zucchini and yellow both.  Something had to be done!

What resulted was the best zucchini I have ever eaten.

(an apology in advance to those that cook from recipes with measurements- I make it up as I go along)

Slice zucchini lengthwise- the larger the zucchini the easier this will be.  Try to keep the slices to about 1/4 inch thick.  Put slices in a tupperware.

Cover with a hearty glug each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; don’t skimp on the vinegar in particular.

Grind some fresh pepper and sea salt over the mixture (or sprinkle from containers as the case may be).  Chop up a small handful of fresh basil, and an even smaller handful of fresh parsley.  Sprinkles those on too.

Mash up around four medium cloves of garlic and toss ’em on.  Put the cover on the tupperware (be sure it’s tight fitting first), and shake until liquid and herbs somewhat evenly cover the zucchini slices.  Let marinate in fridge overnight if possible.

I cooked mine in a cast iron pan on the stove, turned up hot enough to slightly blacken each side, but I think it would be good grilled too.  Each hot, cold, or on bread with a slice of hard nutty cheese.  Thank the summer for its bounty.