Home on the range?

What's in my pot?

It took some time to figure out what to call this blog.  I had to discard things like “urban homesteading” because it was too precious and bourgeois (and like most of the bourgeoisie, I don’t want to appear bourgeois!).  At the same time, I like double entendres (if you know what I mean!) so I thought that “What’s in my pot” was suitably vague, yet at the same time, once you know what this is all about, you’ll agree that it’s accurate.

So, you ask, what IS this blog all about?  I’m glad you asked.

The short answer is: the stuff I make on my stove and put into glass containers.  But the long answer is much more precise.

Last Christmas, my partner KEL gave me the rudimentary bits of a homebrewing setup.  Now, living in Canada, I’m in a country where homebrewing has a much less vigorous following than in the US.  But fortunately, I live in the Niagara Region.  that means, I’m surrounded by wineries, and live across the river from the United States.  the wineries, and all those people who like to make their own wine, use some of the same equipment as homebrewing (glass carboys, various funnels, thermometers, etc).  And across the river is the oasis of homebrewing supplies.  Because in the USA, they are some serious homebrewers.

Within a few weeks I was brewing what began as mediocre beer, but soon became pretty decent, and dare I say shareable!  Yes I dare!  As time went on, I began to explore new ingredients, and different methods. And being a very bookish person, I began to buy  more books, read up on different techniques, source on line distributors, and basically get a little OCD in the brewing thing.  I’ll get into various issues in subsequent posts.

Now, that’s not the only thing in my pot.  Because, if you know anything about the Niagara Region, you’ll know that it is a “tender-fruit” centre.  Lots of peaches, plums, berries of all kinds, nectarines, then apples, pears. . . I live in St. Catharines, which is the largest city in the region, and I live up the street from a pretty decent market (though not the best in the region, apparently). So in the summer, beginning with the strawberries, I’m packing things away.

Back in March, KEL and I split up.  Don’t worry, it’s okay, but thanks for your condolences.  The outcome of this change, however (among much weeping and gnashing of teeth), was that I took up the task of stocking away the wonderful bounty of the region much more than I had before.  I mean, in previous years we cleaned and froze berries, and last year I did manage to can a few quarts of peaches, but that was more of KEL’s bailiwick.  My job at the time was to eat them (okay, I also bought some of the stuff, and did buy the freezer!).

This year, I decided I wanted a freezer full of berries, and shelves and shelves of canned stuff.  Hence, the things in my pot are often jars of fruit, pickles or sauces, being heat processed.

I began this blog today, September 4, because I decided it was time to chronicle this.  Mostly, because today, of all day, as school is about to begin (I’m a university professor, so I really should be doing things like preparing lectures, and since the grant application deadlines happen in the autumn, I should be dealing with that, too), I have: 1) canned plums in syrup; 2) stewed the remaining plums; 3) bottled an American Pale Ale; 4) bottled a Sweet Stout that turned out a little too bitter; 5) am now brewing an “Imperial Pale Ale.”  I don’t know if I need help, but I’m pretty happy.

An Imperial Pale Ale based on Sam Calagione's recipe of the same name

I guess I’ll spend much of this blog commenting on my various canning and brewing adventures.  I suspect that, as the winter opens up, it will be more about making and drinking the beer, but consuming the food.

One caveat: since I also froze all that fruit, I reserve the right to talk about that.  It wasn’t made on my stove and put into glass containers, but it’s really what got me into this madness in the first place.

And an aside: KEL and I have been canning together lately.  So if you’re a hopeless romantic, let your mind run wild!

Hope you like it.


About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
This entry was posted in canned peaches, canning, fermentation, freezing, home brewing, jam, Niagara, pickles. Bookmark the permalink.

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