Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How do you preserve your memories?

When I was younger, we spent a lot of time with my family on Keuka Lake and this is where my heart calls home. One of my aunts was a champion at canning, and dilly beans were my favorite family-get-together-staple. Canning is deeply rooted in my childhood, not only because of the goodies from my aunt but because of the jams my mom, sister and I would spend all day making in early June.

So I’ve tried to take on canning not only to preserve some great local eats, but to help preserve my memories of vineyards, shale rocks in the lake and juice out of yogurt cups. And it only seemed right to try my hand at my favorite dilly beans.

So I decided to can without really having any of the right tools, except for the cans. I’ve since been gifted a huge canning pot and all of the nifty Ball Canning tools, thanks to my parents for my birthday. But that’s for another post. But my largest stock pot did quite fine, and (*perfectly*) fit six pint jars and lids for sterilizing. There’s nothing like the clanging of boiling jars to signal that canning has begun!

Using some great green beans from a farm in Lakewood, I got to chopping. I started out with a pairing knife but quickly gave up. I think that in an alternative life I was a Prep Chef – I love the quiet and rhythmic method that goes into preparing veggies for cooking. But it was late (an 8:00 start on a work night wasn’t the best idea) and I really just needed to get going. The jars were stuffed with beans, some dill weed, cayenne pepper and a whole clove of garlic. It felt like the jars were over stuffed, but after everything was processed and devoured I think that it was just the right amount.

After cooking down a tremendous amount of cider vinegar, salt and water, and filling my home with the most incredible smell, the jars were filled with the brine and processed away.

These babies didn’t last long, and even got the best compliment I could ever receive – “Just like Mom’s!” from my cousin :) Exactly what I was hoping for.

Dilly Beans

2 lbs. green beans
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 bushy branches fresh dill
4 tsp. dried dill or dill seed
½ cup salt
2 ½ cups cider vinegar
2 ½ cups water

Choose long, unblemished green beans and trim ends if desired. Wash under cold water and drain.

Sterilize 4 pint jars, then pack beans vertically in hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. To each jar add 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 clove garlic, and 1/4 of the dill.

Combine salt, vinegar, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over beans to cover, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by stirring gently with a long, thin object such as a chopstick or a spoon handle.

Cover each jar with a lid and ring and process 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Let ripen at least 2 weeks and preferably a month. (4 pints)

Recipe adapted from BigOven.com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I know, I know.

I've been a bit...absent lately...since February. Whoops.

Sometimes life gets in the way.

But I'm excited to share with my friends that writing about my foodie love is coming back to the front of the line! The best boy and I have moved Downtown, I have discovered a new love for canning (more on this later), and life has finally settled enough that I can get back down to business. In the last few weeks I have been thinking of recipes and outings to share, and questions to pose. All the while I have been asked by Block Club Magazine to participate in an exciting new venture!

Barring anything crazy, in October Block Club Magazine will be kicking off a great new blogging component that I am flattered to be a part of! I will be sharing my thoughts on cooking, eating and everything in between and of course...loving up on Buffalo. Even my dear friend Jessica will be joining the fun!

Stay tuned, not only for my Block Club fun, but for some postings about my new found love for canning!