Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Huge Failure, Delightful Surprises

   Let's get the failure out of the way first.  I tried something new and I failed and I can't figure out exactly why.  I made a double batch of Boston Baked Beans from the Ball Blue Book and I attempted to double deck the pints in the pressure canner.  I was a little distracted, the pressure went a little too high at one point.  When the required canning time was over and the pressure had reduced, I opened the canner to find the water mixed with baked bean liquid, the jars all covered in stickiness and six of the twelve jars not sealed.  Five of those jars, had their contents emptied into Ziploc freezer bags and into the deep freeze they went.  The final unsealed jar went to a dinner of beanie weenies and organic mac 'n cheese.  As far as I know, I had the right headspace, I cleaned the jars after filling and releasing the air bubbles, I had the right amount of water in the canner, I used a rack to double deck the pints as the canner manufacturer suggests.  Utterly baffled.
    Next comes the surprises.  First, when we were looking around at one of our local Goodwill stores, I ran across a lovely, brand new, cup and saucer, still in original packaging.  I didn't have a cup and saucer in Woodland pattern, and I didn't need it.  My motivation for purchasing it was simple.  For years, I have been able to find Pyrex tea cups and Corelle saucers, and they were shelved and priced separately, and I could, and did, match them together. I was mystified that I never came across any Pyrex saucers, and any Corelle tea cups, had a strange open hooked handle.  I just figured that all of the Pyrex saucers were broken, and only the cups remained.  Now I have finally discovered the truth.  The underside of the cup had the Pyrex label, the underside of the saucer is marked Corelle, They are wrapped together and sold as a set.  Mystery solved!
    The second surprise was in the garden.  In the fall, light frosts killed the sunchoke (or Jerusalem Artichoke) tops, but I had to wait until after a hard freeze to harvest.  I had originally received free tubers from another freecycler.  I brought them home and didn't have time to plant them right away, and by the time I got around to them it was summer and some were sprouting in the box, while others were soft and moldy.  I grabbed two burlap sacks from a stash I have accumulated from a local coffee roaster, filled them each with half a bag of organic potting soil, plunged those wizzled leggy tubers under the soil. I watered and mulched as the summer went on and cut the flowers in the fall to encourage tuber production, not knowing what was going on under the dirt.  The holidays came, we were out of town, then life changed as I knew it and other things took priority.  Until a couple days ago.  I was on the phone with my Aunt and it dawned on me...  I need to harvest the sunchokes.  Yesterday the kiddo and I went out on a sunny January late morning and dug around in the 40 degree soil in those decomposing burlap sacks and unearthed eight and a quarter pounds of sunchoke tubers.  Fat, earthy, knobbly, crunchy goodness.  We tasted them raw for the first time ever.  Yes, I planted a crop of sunchokes, when we had never tasted them before.  I can't wait to oven roast them with garlic for our guest on Saturday.

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