Embracing My Behindness

21 Nov


Aren’t they gorgeous?  I brought them into the world all by myself – all six of them, and I am quite proud of their luscious, pink hue and their general photogenic beauty.  It wasn’t easy, giving birth to six beautiful jars of applesauce.  Like the other births I’ve experienced, this one took hours, and was messy, and required a lot of hard work, with some moaning and grunting even.   However, this time around, I had no one to rub my back and cheer me on; I was all alone, in the overheated solitude of my kitchen.  Of course, this time around, there was considerably less pain.  And I didn’t have to plan a bris immediately afterwards, or start worrying about college tuition.  So, go ahead – tell me they’re gorgeous.

“But, Cathleen,” you say, tapping your foot, “it’s November 21st already.  Canning was so-o-o last month.”

Yes, Dear Reader, we are most of the way through November, and I am still working on October’s goal of achieving domestic goddessness through canning (and baking, but let’s not go there).  However, I have decided to embrace my behindness.  This is, after all, a self-created, and self-directed 12-month project of becoming the me I always wanted to be, and if I created it and I’m running the show… well, then – I can modify too.  So I’m still on canning.

Here, then, is what I learned about myself and about canning during the applesauce birthing experience:

  • I learned that I don’t know how big a bushel of apples is.  The recipe I used called for a bushel of apples, which is not how Whole Paycheck, where I shop, sells apples.  I had a moment of panic because Bob McClure’s number one piece of advice to avoid accidentally breeding botulism in your canned food was to follow the directions exactly, especially around quantities of each ingredient.  Was I going to be cooking up a noxious batch of poison if I didn’t use a bushel of apples?  I ultimately decided that, since the list of ingredients for the recipe I was using was 2 items long – apples and water – I could safely play around with apple quantities without killing anyone.  I bought what I believe is technically termed a buttload of apples; how that compares to a bushel, I still do not know.
  • I learned that a buttload of apples cooks down to only 6 cute pint-sized jars.
  • I learned that my stove is not ideal for canning.  Nor is my kitchen, actually.  I have a stove with a double oven – one oven below the cooktop and one above it.  The rim of the beautiful water bath canning pot I bought came to about 3 inches below the bottom of my top oven.  Which meant that I couldn’t put the top of the pot on properly; I had to put it on upside down.  And when it came time to put the cans in the boiling water, I only had access to about a third of the pot because two thirds of the pot was underneath my top oven.  Also, my kitchen does not have nearly enough prep space and entirely too much floor space.  The walk from my sink to the stove felt like the Green Mile, especially when I was shuffling across it carrying a water bath canner that contained several gallons of water.
  • I learned that even though sterilizing jars in the dishwasher by running it on sanitize sounds like a great time-saving trick, it is not.  I basically watched the water in the water bath canner boil while I ran my dishwasher for 96 minutes in order to sterilize 12 jars.  And then I only had enough applesauce to fill 6 of them.  I could have just put the empty jars in the boiling water of the water bath canner for, like, 5 minutes, and they would have been sterilized.
  • I learned that my children do not appreciate the effort a mother puts into home-canning applesauce.  They will, thankfully, eat it, but from their point of view, it’s just applesauce.
  • I learned that canning, like writing and learning to sing, is something one does largely alone, and, therefore, is perhaps not the best new hobby for someone who would like to spend less, rather than more, time alone.

I do still have 6 empty pint jars, and an interesting-sounding recipe for cranberry-orange chutney, so there still may be canning in my future.  But I’m ready to move on to a bright and shining new month.  No more canning blog posts.  I promise.


7 Responses to “Embracing My Behindness”

  1. tina ellerbee November 22, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    I frequently use the measurement term “buttload”; it often comes into play when I enter a Target store, despite going in for one item.

    • Cathleen Barnhart November 22, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      I was just in Target yesterday for ONE thing. Ended up with a towering pile in my arms (because I hadn’t bothered with a cart).

  2. Jennifer Lang November 22, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I was again laughing aloud as I neared the end, first about your kids not appreciating the effort because apple sauce is apple sauce and second, that canning is a one-man job and therefore not for you since you’re in need of human contact! Great.

  3. Aviva November 23, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Cathleen, they are beautiful!

  4. Amanda Barnhart November 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    As a lucky recipient of one of the 6 beautiful jars of applesauce, I don’t think you should give up! It was delicious. And I think you should realize that you already are a domestic goddess to some of us! You put love and thought into making healthy, special meals for your family and friends and thereby have created a loving, and loved, community and
    many meaningful traditions. At the heart of which is you. What more could a domestic goddess aspire to?

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