I took an interest in canning last summer. My mom used to can all sorts of things when I was a kid, ranging from homemade pickles, to jams, to canned vegetables, to soups.
I started last year with jelly. My first ever attempt at canning was making nanking cherry jelly, which turned out so well I hopped right into more jellies and jams. Last year, the total cups of jelly/jam canned was roughly 60. Some in pints, some in jam jars that hold one cup. By this summer, about 10 cups remained, mostly of strawberry jam, which seems to be the least favourite at our house. Or maybe I just made the most of that kind last year.
Last year, Tony got into making pickles: he made regular dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, and curry pickles, which were killer. Those curry pickles were so amazing on burgers I can’t even explain it. He also made some pickled beets, and I made about 24 quarts of salsa.
This year, the running total is getting to be ridiculous: I have done 8 cups of strawberry jam, 18 cups of saskatoon jelly, 18 cups of cherry jelly, and nearly 30 cups of raspberry jam, the boys’ favourite. All of the berries are local, all of which were picked by our family. I also made some cherry bbq sauce (5 cups). We have apples waiting to be processed, too. They are good for eating fresh, but there is no way we can go through all those apples! Jelly-time is looming.
Now, jam and jelly time is almost over and we are heading into regular pickling and canning. We picked about 10 lbs of string beans from our garden last night. That’s right, 10 lbs. That was from approximately half our plants, and this was not the first picking. I picked nearly as many last weekend! I am not one for canned beans, so I am trying to flash freeze them, and Tony wants to make some dilly beans. I have also got into pressure canning, which opens up so many possibilities, like soups. I have done beef barley soup and a mexican-inspired meatball soup.
All this canning is fantastic, but I am quickly realizing that I need more space to store my canned goods. I have no cold storage room, and piling jars all around my basement is not ideal. We also have to store our potatoes at my mom’s house in the winter because she has a cold room that will preserve them, whereas if we kept them in our house, they would spoil by November, I am sure.
I never thought I would ever be so domestic, but I am loving all the home-grown and homemade foods so much. It takes time and dedication to make all these goodies, time which could otherwise be spent knitting or relaxing, but we reap the rewards all year on our toast and at the dinner table, so it’s definitely worth it.
Especially when Sashimi tasted some store-bought jam and said “What’s wrong with this jam? It’s no good.”
So many people have commented on how quickly I slimmed down after having iBean. Yes, I am thinner now than I was before I got pregnant with Sashimi. I am currently the same size I was when I graduated from high school. If i walked around with an FAQ on my back, one of the questions would be “Do you work hard at it, or do you just have good genes?” The truth is, although in this particular instance I have not had to physically work hard (thanks to my friend thyroiditis and his sidekick breastfeeding), my relationship with food and my body has not always been so easy.
My eating is so much different now than when I was a teenager. I used to eat compulsively and was 155 lbs at my heaviest. Not huge, but not small either for a short girl. I would polish off a ring of sausage as a snack, or a large bag of tostitos and salsa. I drank a lot of coke and tequila (not together). I liked adding those flavoured creamers (try 7 or 8 of them) to my hot chocolate. Then, at 17, I overheard a boy refer to me as “cute, but chubby.” All I heard was chubby.
I started exercising regularly. I made a rule that I was only allowed to eat thin soups for lunch – no more sandwiches or other unnecessary bread consumption. I would only eat a banana for breakfast. Doing this helped me lose nearly 25 lbs in 6 months. Then my dad was killed in an accident, I dropped another 5 or 7 lbs in a matter of days. I went shopping for my grad dress (for my American friends, grad dresses here are equivalent to prom dresses) about a month afterward and was completely thrilled when I realized that I fit a size 4. I had never been a size 4, and the rush of seeing such a small dress on my body was something I cannot explain. By the time I actually graduated, the dress was slightly too big, and I could have easily worn a size 2.
When I moved out on my own to attend university, I remember thinking these exact words: “When I am on my own, I can lose as much weight as I want.” That is scary to think of now, but I distinctly remember thinking it. I started keeping a food journal, documenting everything I ate, whether I had a bowel movement, how much I exercised, and how much I weighed. A typical day would read:
Breakfast: banana. Lunch: mini pita with cream cheese. Supper: salad with salsa and light ranch. Tae-bo one hour. No BM. Weight: 103 lbs.
There were days when I ate out at a restaurant. Those days, I usually just drew a big angry face and took ex-lax when I got home (I have no gag reflex, it seems, as I tried to purge and it never worked. A blessing in disguise). A couple of my friends from high school saw me and commented on how they coud feel my spine when they hugged me. I just told them it was stress, all the while masking my extreme delight in being so thin. I should also mention that I was amenorrheic for about a year. It did not bother me at all.
In the spring, I started seeing a psychologist (for another matter) and through therapy, realized that I had an eating disorder. Meanwhile, my physician had put me on an anti-depressant that had a side effect of causing increased appetite – I think she suspected something was wrong as well. At first, I would put the extra food I craved in my mouth, chew it up, and then spit it in the garbage. Gradually, I started to see how deranged this was, and started swallowng the food. I managed to put on 10 lbs over the four-month summer break, followed another 10 lbs during my two-week séjour in France. I returned home no longer fitting my pants and with significantly larger breasts (much to Tony’s delight).
The guilt I felt over eating what I felt was too much (what I now realize was eating normally) took a few years to subside. Tony was a very positive support for me, and I purged my closet of all my skinny clothes, so I would not put them on, feel them cutting into my flesh, and revert back to old ways.
Now, 10 years and three babies later, I like to think i have achieved some sort of balance, somewhat shaped by the fat girl and anorectic girl constantly dueling in my head. My weight stays pretty constant. I eat what I want, all the while watching portion size and making sure that I am getting lots of fruit and veggies. Sometimes the anorectic girl wins, and I order salad at a restaurant when I really wanted pasta. Other times, the fat girl wins when I eat a big piece of pie for breakfast or eat two handfuls of cookies while watching TV. But they play a zero-sum game. If one girl wins, the next time she will lose.
Time had been kind to me, as I really don’t think about these things anymore. I enjoy my life and food on my own terms, exercise when I want (or have the energy) to do it. In becoming a mother, I have seen my body do incredible things and I have more respect for my body. When I see myself in the mirror, I like what I see just as it is.**
**Okay. Maybe not the acne. But I guess that’s what concealer is for.
Last year, when I miscarried my twins, one of the first people we called was my sister-in-law. She has identical twin boys who survived twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and now have cerebral palsy. Their story is not as grim as that sentence sounds. The boys are now 2 1/2 years old and are ridiculously sweet and exceeding doctor’s expectations every day. She recently started blogging, so if you are so inclined, check her out: My Loves My Life. I love being able to read about the boys and their accomplishments on a regular basis.
Stop by and say hello 🙂
Whenever Tony wants to answer “yes” to an obvious question, he always retorts with “Do bears poop in the woods?”
Yes, bears poop in the woods. But not today.
A friend of mine (and neighbour) had told me that she had found bear poop in her yard a few days ago. Since we live in an area close to the river, it is not uncommon for wildlife to muck about our yards. She had a bear living in her yard last summer and it had to be trapped and relocated. She was not impressed with a new bear friend moving in.
We live in a col de sac, up the road from my friend (who lives on a river-front lot). We have never had much more than deer roam our yard and decimate our shrubs out front. Today, however, I would have gladly taken the deer.
While making supper, I hear Sashimi call out: ” Mommy! There’s a bear in our yard!”
Incredulous, I say “Are you SURE? No, there can’t be.”
I looked out the window, saw nothing, then ran outside to check it out. Smart, I know. Sashimi and Keesadilla both screeched at me “GET BACK IN THE HOUSE!! THERE’S A BEAR OUTSIDE!” but I figured it was probably just a big dog or something. I scoped out our yard, then walked to the end of the driveway to see if I could see anything. Then I heard something clanging on a chain-link fence. I looked over to a neighbour’s house, one yard between us, and a bear popped up and looked at me. HOLY CRAP IT’S A BEAR!! And I a pretty sure the bear though “HOLY CRAP IT’S A HUMAN!” because we both bolted a lightening speed. He scampered back under a bush and resumed clanging on the fence. I dashed into the house and cried “You were RIGHT! It IS a bear!” Then sat down and hyperventilated a little bit before resuming making supper, which was probably burning on the BBQ by then.
Me: Well, I have to go finish bbq-ing supper.
Keesadilla: NO! Don’t go outside! There’s a bear in our yard!
Me: The bear is gone, now. Don’t worry.
Keesadilla: I don’t want to the bear to come in my house and my yard! Hmph! (arms crossed and stern expression).
Me: Kees, bears can’t open doors. It won’t come in the house.
Keesadilla, grabbing his lightsaber: I gonna shoot the bear, Mommy! (makes shooting sound effects for enhanced effect).
Sashimi: You can’t shoot a bear with a lightsaber.
Keesadilla: YES I CAN!
Me: No, you can’t. And you are too scared to go outside and shoot it anyway. The bear can’t get in our backyard where I am cooking, so it’s ok.
Sashimi: But you’re cooking fish and bears eat fish!! What if it comes to our yard to get the fish?
Keesadilla: YEAH! WHATCHA GONNA DO MOMMY?!?!
What did I do? I called Sustainable Resources to report a bear and a very nice officer came and talked to me about it. I think he may have thought I was cute because he gave the boys free passes to the minigolf course for “telling your mom about the bear” and then gave me one, too.
The minigolf course is not in bear territory. Otherwise I don’t think Keesadilla would go. Unless he golfed with a lightsaber.
Sashimi was watching Teletoon when Space Jam came on. He had never seen it before.
Sashimi: Daddy, is this old school?