Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Love of...Mason Jars, and the Sauce that Goes in Them

These are couple of my favorite mason jars. Atlas Special Mason with the old time lids.
Some people like jewels, and shiny things, I like canning jars, what can I say? I'm a country girl.

I love mason jars. There's just something about them that feels very safe, very home. I was lucky enough to can LOTS of tomatoes this summer. So many that I had to enlist lots of old canning jars in the basement of the farm. These ones have been there for probably 25 years, just waiting to be filled again with love. I love seeing the old names not around anymore. Genuine Sarma Mason. I've only found one of these~ I wonder how old it might be?

These baskets of dingy, dirty jars once held sauce, juice, relish, peaches, pears, anything my Mom could think to put in them. My love and appreciation of canning and gardening to feed a family came from her. She would tell me stories of when she was a young girl living on a steep hillside in Pittsburgh, PA, of planting flowers and vegetables on the hill in and by their yard, and that she always looked forward to getting her seed catalogs~ her reference bibles~ every winter so she could plan the next spring's garden. She saved so many! She said if she ever forgot something about anything, she could just refer back to the description in the catalog. She was right. She loved thumbing through her catalogs, and dog earring pages, dreaming of a bigger and better garden for the next year! It's a trait she passed along. With some TLC, and a very worn out bottle brush, these jars came back to life!

The Atlas mason jars now hold the most incredible thick tomato sauce. I have enough to get us through winter, maybe even spring. That's even with giving a few away. Just a few, I can be stingy with my fresh sauce!

My Ball Perfect mason's hold beautiful tomato juice~ I've found my kids like homemade tomato soup, and that this juice makes the most wonderful base for vegetable beef soup! My girls like that too. I add cut green beans from the garden to it, it's one of the only ways they don't fuss about eating green beans!

This might be my favorite jar, Kerr's Self Sealing 'trademark reg.' mason. The older jars from Kerr don't have the 'trademark reg.' on the jar, so I figure another company picked up on it and the Kerr Co. felt the need to add the trademark. Man, cutthroat business even then, it just seems like a much more innocent time than now, but I guess a businessman is a businessman. Oh well, on to better things...

like these beautiful jars catching the morning sunlight. So simple, yet, so beautiful.

Adventure hit me this year too. As I was thumbing through my Ball Blue Book of Canning, I spied a recipe for Honeyed Yellow Tomato butter. I thought, WHAT??? , this must be either delicious, or tradition. Since I never heard of it before, I was thinking delicious. This was my first attempt at making any kind of 'butter', other than from a cow, and I have to say it was a success! And it definately wasn't great granny's fruitcake! It's very sweet, probably no sweeter than jelly, but since I'm not a jelly toast kind of girl, I'll use this beautiful butter as a glaze on turkey and pork. I added some applesauce to mine since when it was cooking, I just couldn't get it as thick as I would like, but I think it actually improved the taste. The yellow tomatoes are so mild to begin with, they can't even be tasted in this recipe. Plus, their my youngest girls venture of experimenting with volunteer tomatoes that just happened to come up in her raised bed this year! I may be partial to my little girls tomatoes, but I don't think so. This gorgeous honey-apple-tomato butter will have a special place at my Thanksgiving table this year, as I remember all of the things (and people) who are dear to me.

Happy, happy thoughts!! : )

Friday, September 10, 2010

It Found ME!!

The poison ivy I feared so much in the last post, has found me. Specifically my nose. I can't say I've ever inhaled the oil of the poison ivy vine until now. It sould be an interesting, akward week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Under the Apple Tree...

I often find myself under, in, or around a big old tree. For some reason, I'm attracted to them. They reach out to me...they call to call to me "come here, under me, take a rest"... I find myself underneath in no time just looking at their beauty. I wonder how their branches came to grow as they do. I wonder what kind of animals call it their home, or which ones find shelter at the foot of her trunk. I wonder, I dream, it's what I do, what can I say?

I marvel at the color and texture of the bark. Some is rough and jagged, or like this gorgeous old sycamore tree on our tree line, smooth and inviting. The bark is beautiful with soft browns, mossy greens, and light tan patches saying "come and look at me, I'm beautiful". I found myself under her beauty, and I wanted to stay and sit a spell and explore more around her, that was until I spyed a poison ivy vine about five feet from my face, and then I decided it was time to move on. I was only hoping and praying I didn't touch it, or disturb it in any way. Poison ivy has a way of finding me and has the uncanny ability to make me remember that 'parting is such a sweet sorrow'. Yes, for about two weeks! So I moved on. I very quickly forgot all about the poison ivy.

I spotted what I was secretly hoping to see. Apples! I love apples and frequently get excited about them, but our farm has been in the process of being strip mined this past year. The ground is back in place now and the hill reseeded, so when my hubby, our two younger girls, and I ventured up to the top of the hill to take a look, I was so happy to see the trees we planted when I was a kid. Did I say I was happy? I wanted to jump for joy, but I was too tired from walking up the huge hill! So many years ago, my Mom picked these trees with care from a mail order catalog to plant in front of the tree line marking our property. She thought the other trees would eventually die out, so if we were going to have a tree line, it might as well be productive one! She would be happy to see her trees not only survived, but are thriving. So am I.

This is the McIntosh. It's the first one I saw when I got to the top of the hill. The other trees are about 30 feet away from this one. All of us found ourselves picking and reaching as high as we could to reach these beauties, acutally using my daughter's jacket as a 'basket' to carry our bounty down the hill. Luckily some of them aren't yet ripe yet, so we can head back soon with our fruit picker, the only way to reach the perfect ones the deer can't reach, and the only way to assure no unplanned trips to the ER because someone fell out of a tree! They are so good. I predict apple cake, applesauce, apple pie, and apple crisp in our near future! Yum!