Monday, September 7, 2009

Spaghetti sauce (and stuff)

I'm canning sauce right now, as we speak--I have 6 jars in the canner bubbling away, which means some downtime for me for about half an hour. So here I am! I wanted to update you from last week, and maybe post some pics if I have time. Last Sunday we packed up the kids and drove across our new bridge to Maple Ridge, and went hiking at Golden Ears Park. It was Simon's first big walk, and he did wonderfully! It was a perfect day for hiking; sunny but not too warm. I was very surprised that Simon walked the entire distance (about an hour), and that he did well on the leash. He has zero experience. He's such a great dog. He is SO easygoing! I did step in his poop on the lawn about an hour ago, though. I was chasing him from the backyard to the front, trying to catch a black dog in the dark before he ran onto the road, and I slid on some poop. AWESOME! He also spends a good portion of the day sleeping, is too skinny (basset hounds are prone to being overweight, so we'll see if that lasts--right now he's either too sleepy or too busy to eat, generally!), and loves to antagonize the cat. It drives her crazy.

Last Tuesday we drove up to my parents' place and spent our four days off running around the farm. So fun! There were electrical storms and firefighting helicopters and all kinds of cool stuff to see and talk about. This trip for the first time, we let the big boys go down to the shop (barn) by themselves and play. What a milestone to not have to visually supervise them every minute! I think it is SO important for kids to have wild, unsupervised playtime. It helps them develop a sense of identity that is more true, I think, because it is not simply a reflection of who those around them tell them they are. I hope that makes sense! It also extends their imagination far beyond supervised play, because there are really no limits, and there is no audience save themselves. Because there are two of them, and because we know them well, we DON'T trust them NOT to get into trouble, but we DO trust them to either improvise a way out of trouble, or to access help if they need it. I spent echelons of my childhood playing in nature, and I think it was VERY valuable. I'm so glad that my kids can have some chances to do the same. It sure is a sign they are growing up though. Ayden starts grade one TOMORROW! Yikes! And Matthew starts kindergarten on Wednesday or Thursday (I can't find the paper that tells me which is his first day...tomorrow we'll start a manhunt for it!!). They are so grown up! It's sad!
And Riley is running around, throwing fits and putting his forehead on the floor and WAILING when he doesn't get his way about something. Gosh, it's hilarious. I sure am glad he's my third (I like to call him 'my turd'--Irish accented 'third,' with some obvious connotations). I've decided that the absolute best position to have in the sibling birth order is third. The first is a wild animal testing experiment, with both parents learning on the fly and the kid breaking new ground every time he reaches a new developmental stage. The second further tests the parents, as they are now required to staple their lives to their kids pretty thoroughly, and everything is more of a production. Also, anything the parents learned in parenting their first kid seems NOT TO APPLY to their second kid, which makes for another steep learning curve and some major head butting. By the third kid, nothing fazes parents anymore, all developmental stages seem shorter and more manageable, and the parenting philosophy has pretty well been hammered out, so the 'turd' is not subjected to quite so many experiments and does not confound his parents quite so much. At this point, I am very confident I could do 4. Absolutely, bring it on, tuck him right into the fabric of our family, no problem [whether or not we actually want to go there is an entirely other matter, but I'm just saying I have no doubts about my emotional well being or the state or rhythm of our family being disturbed whatsoever by the addition of a fourth child]. When they are teenagers and a weekly trip to Costco costs me $600, we may be singing a different tune, here. But for now. Also, as a third child, there are plenty of people to play with, and plenty of people to offer hugs, kisses, condolences, and head pats when you fall and scrape your knees.
Yes, 'turd' is best.
I'm an oldest child. Brent is an oldest child. Ayden, of course, is an oldest child. So Matthew pretty much was an anomoly in our family until Riley came along! And I have to say, Matthew has always, always been kind, patient, gentle, and empathetic with Riley. I have never seen him act in an unkind brotherly way towards his baby brother, which I kind of expected would happen every once in awhile. Well, Matthew will steal toys and food right out of Riley's hands, but he would do that with anyone he felt like he could get away with doing it grandmas....but I mean, he's not ever malicious. Ever. It's wonderful. And he frequently asks me when I'm going to give him a sister. I guess he was made for a big family.

So I'm canning spaghetti sauce tonight, and I have a slightly funny story to tell of my last canning venture. It was the night before we went up to my mom's last week, and Brent was working night shift. I had purchased 60 lbs of blueberries that afternoon for freezing and jamming and pie. I made the pie for dessert after supper but my supper was pronounced SO GOOD by my kids (and moi) that the pie was only half eaten! We had maple burbon salmon on my blue cheese and pear salad, which is to DIE FOR, fresh corn, and artisan bread. I'm dying of hunger just thinking about it. I am SO GOOD :p

Here's my salad recipe;
1 head leafy lettuce
3 handfuls spinach
2 radiccio
1 pear
3 handfuls of chopped, oven roasted pecans
1 handful of craisins (optional)

wash all the lettuces and combine, slice the pear thinly and add, roast and chop the pecans and add, and toss with 3 Tbsp of blue cheese dressing. A super added touch is crumbled blue cheese which is in my top 3 favourite foods, especially combined with radiccio. If blue cheese is NOT in your top 3 favourite foods, and is rather in your bottom 3, you could do without the crumbled blue cheese on top. You could even replace the dressing with ranch or something, but in my opinion you would DESTROY THE SALAD [a sin worthy of BURNING IN HELL, if you ask me, which you didn't, but still...I'm a serious food lover].
I digress.

So, we had so much good supper we had hardly any room for dessert. I took some pics of my blueberry pie so I'll have to post those sometime. Yummmmmm...
So I tuck my three boys in bed and decide that, as a result of some minor mumbling about liking blueberry jam and wishing I could make him some blueberry jam and gosh some blueberry jam would be nice on this toast OH MY GOSH I'LL MAKE YOU SOME JAM TONIGHT. Jeepers! My kitchen is ready, my ingredients assembled, my time is my own, my kids are in bed, and I'm pumped. But then I realize I DON'T HAVE ANY PECTIN! Ack! Kids are sleeping, we're leaving tomorrow morning for four days, the jam HAS to be made tonight or not at all. And this is the last of the season for blueberries, so there is no hope for next week. I hemmed and I hawwwed (not really, but I love that expression, it seems so down home farm hillbilly), because I knew that it is possible to make jam without pectin; our great great grandmas all did it that way before it was possible to buy convenient little paper packets of pectin (wowsa, look at that alliteration, Peter Piper PICKED!). So, I decided to give it a shot. I knew it took longer and was more finicky, but there is a first time for everything, right? How hard can it be?
Holy fucking cow, THAT's how hard it can be! It took me two hours of stirring to get the crushed blueberries to the gelatinish point, and about half an hour before it reached that point I was stirring and I noticed something prickly on my arm. Huh. That hasn't happened so far, I wonder what that is? Then there it was again. It hurt! A couple of minutes later it wasn't so prickly anymore, it was BIG GLOBS OF BURNING BLUEBERRY JAM plopping out of the boiling pot onto my arms! And then they got so ferocious and huge as the jam got thicker (but not thick enough!) that they attacked my neck, my cheeks, my forehead, even behind my glasses a couple of times, very close to my eyes! There were splatters of jam all over my stovetop, the counter, the wall behind my stove, the microwave above my stove, within a three foot radius of my oven ON THE FLOOR, and ALL OVER ME. It even burned my toes. I had to stir the jam with a towel wrapped around my arm and hand to even be able to stir it. HOW DID GREAT GREAT GRANDMA DO THIS???? I thought, as I swore *F* and *FF* and *FFF* every time another freaking glob leapt out and got me (I'm so glad the kids are sleeping at this point, or their ears would be traumatized. No seriously they would--I don't swear in front of them anymore like I used to!). Ack.
All that for eight little jars of a type of jam that I don't even like.

I am pretty proud of all my jars of food though. This year so far I've made rasperry, raspberry-blueberry, cherry cinnamon, peach, and blueberry jam, I've canned tomatoes and pasta sauce, and I've frozen hundreds of pounds of raspberries and blueberries for winter. I also have 40 lbs of apples sitting in my kitchen waiting to be sauced. That's up next. Look at me! Domestic Diva. My mom always preserved food because the homemade stuff always tastes so much better. I do it because it is so much healthier, and I can guarantee my glass jars have no BPA in them. Also, my spaghetti sauce reduces my overall glass jar use drastically (I mean the recyclable glass jars I usually buy my pasta sauce in, and then have to guiltily recycle) without having to switch to plastic. Yippee!

My kids are so cute. I just had to say that.

Here's Riley's birthday pics to prove it;

Don't you LOOOOVE my cake? I filled a dump truck with chocolate pudding, oreo cookie crumbs, and gummy worms and voila: dirt and worms in a truck. It was a very big hit. AND the truck was Riley's birthday present, and is big enough to be a ride on toy. Awesome!

Good night!


jenna said...

this is great.
I laughed, I cried...
love your canning stories.
ed says, "hummin and hawwin" drives me nuts.

jenna said...

this is great.
I laughed, I cried...
love your canning stories.
ed says, "hummin and hawwin" drives me nuts.

Tonya said...

LOVE the family shot. And three cheers for the 3rd child - that's me. Must be why I'm so perfect - NOT! :-)

Jen said...

I really love you. And your family. Seriously. It makes me smile.

Rachel Clear said...

Yes, the kids are adorable, for sure.

And I would kill for Ayden's lil' six-pack he's sportin'... my goodness!