Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yes we can can, and if can, why can't we?

because the pectin didn't set?  
The Pointer Sisters just fainted and I apologize.

You can always tell when you're passing the home of an avid canner because the windows look like this, steamed up.

It's GRAPE season and apple season and pear season and fall squash season and keep those pot bubbling!
Over the last few days the canning equipment was not quite ready to go to the nether regions of the basement.  There are still tomatoes, red and green to harvest, pots of peppers and onions.  While canning I listened to a podcast on wild foraging.  And then the sun came out and I really needed a mini-vaca.  (I know, most women would go for a mani-pedi or massage; next time, I swear.)
This 30 minute podcast was all I needed to fire my engines into Euell Gibbons master forager mode.
And Yes, I have a signed autographed copy of "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" in my bookcase.  Perfect!  Fishing and Foraging!  

Images danced in my delusional mind of me coming home with a bag of crab apples, staghorn sumac berries, hickory nuts and a stringer of fish. 
The last jar lid popped and I was out the door in 10 minutes! 

I have not tried that end of the river in a long time as it's down a steep hill.... we are talking amusement park, toss your cookies hill, at the back of the cemetery.  Weather guy said by noon it would be an 85 degree day and in my mind I thought, perfect!  The water will be cool and the sun will be on face.  
For those who read this blog, back out now because you know what's coming.

I can almost see that hill from my drive way, it's a short walk.  Short walk equals put your rubber hip boots on at home.  Also figured I have to walk through brambles and poison ivy, rubber hip boots are just the ticket.  Rod in hand, fishing vest on, hip boots lashed to my belt; out the door by 8:45 a.m.  Down the hill, bouncing off trees like a pinball machine I reached the bottom with sunglasses dangling off the end of my nose.  Re-adjust and head to the river.  On my way down the hill, clinging to a tree I could see the bottom of the river through my polarized sunglasses, they give me super powers.  I could see a few fish, suckers or possibly steel head.  OMG get to the river!  I released my death grip on the tree and the hill spit out like curdled milk. I think I did squeak out one blood curdling scream ...... on the inside.  Bursting out into an open field imagine my surprise when I found the old golf course filled with asters, thistles and golden rod 6-8 feet high.  I could hear the river but how to get to the river.  I slide stepped along the edge of the old golfing green for quite a ways until the little shop of horrors vegetation beat me back to a sand trap.  Nothing grows in sand, it was an oasis!  I surveyed my dilemma and came to the awful conclusion there would be no fishing today and I just need to get back to house.  I will work my way across the field and forage as I go.  

Looking around I choose the path of lest resistance, a deer path!  In waders and wearing fishing gear  there wasn't a prayer I was going back up the hill from hell.  Standing on the sand trap contemplating my options a helicopter buzzed over head.  Yes, a chopper!  Hey I'm here, right here!! A lift to the top of hill?  He flew off.  I stepped out of the sand trap and was immersed in the maze of weeds towering over my head.  Burdock, curly dock, smart weed, wild grapes, prickly lettuce, devil's pitchforks, brambles, thistles and did I mention my old friend poison ivy?  The waders worked but the t-shirt was going to be in ribbons by the time I got home.   Back to step slide, step slide.  My Mom taught me how to walk through pricker bushes when I was kid and who knew that was going to be such great information!  

Step sliding to the next sand trap I said; Oooooo, look at all the pretty rainbows..... sweat filled my glasses creating the prismatic view of asters and blue sky.  Stop, cleaned my glasses and realized this fishing vest must weigh 50 pounds and these rubber waders might just get left in weeds.  No, wait I bet the Donner Party left their cast iron skillet in the desert only to realize it was just what they needed to fricassee Ned.  Keep the waders!  I passed a hickory tree and thought do I really want to carry 10 pound of flipp'n hickory nuts?  Shelled walnuts are $4.99 a pound at the grocery store.  Keep walking...... 

The deer paths zig zagged through the fields like a drunk on a Friday night after payday.  A couple feet in front of me I heard something crashing through the brush and could see the Phragmites grass waving wildly against the azure blue sky.  Whatever it was, thankfully it was running away from me.  Yup, just call me Sasquatch, oh and Bambi....... RUN!!!    

I found the staghorn sumac berries, the hickory nuts and even the crab apples.  I left them for all the critters in the valley.  I saw the wooly bear caterpillar and checked his mittens forecasting winter, I listened to the hawks laughing over head, then circling vultures. I made it home two and half hours later.  I drank tap water and a handful of store bought walnuts.  They were delicious! 

Before the big fishing and foraging adventure here's the run down.

grapes for grape jelly

jelly time!

nasturtium vinegar....... 
This is the second bottle.
The first bottle looked this pretty too, except when I followed the directions to shake daily I caught a glint of little black dots suspended in amber juice and didn't think I had followed directions for a kitchen snow globe, I put my glasses on.  I had pickled a bunch of ants who decided to hide deep in the throats of the nasturtium, ( maybe I'll call it Watergate vinegar)  

Italian Prune Plum butter known as Lekvar to the Hungarians of the world.

the first batch out before the big adventure.

A few more things to can but I think my foraging adventures are done for a while........ well until my next podcast when I listen to the adventures of Neil Armstrong!  


  1. do you sleep???
    Good lord, there is no way to keep up with what you are doing and make pots without giving up all sleep.

    And I use to can, can.
    Now I freeze, freeze.... less time in the process...

  2. LOL Hi Meredith! I have a crockpot! Seriously, I put the fruit in at night. It simmers while I'm sleeping. Canning is usually done by 9:30 am.
    I did more freezing last year, especially tomatoes. In the middle of winter I had a hard time running out to the studio to retrieve those stupid tomatoes so we ate a lot of soups and stews without.

    Gotta pictures up on pots! A couple months out of the studio have been great! Got my batteries recharged for sure.