Hello! YES, I’m still alive, NO, the south hasn’t devoured me (yet), and YES I still love pickles. It’s be a whirlwind of a month, and I know, I know, I haven’t posted in a while. She says with her tail between her legs… While my pickling intentions have been strong, all my canning supplies are still with the movers (ugh). Even worse (double ugh), I have a huge bounty of fresh peaches and nectarines in my fridge that are just waiting to be jammed!
So just to give you a little update on what’s been happening with this pickle lady: I recently landed a new job working for the Environmental Protection Agency in Durham, NC. I officially start next Monday! After the epic road trip south in my beast of an unreliable car (we made it), I arrived in Durham on the 2nd to my amazing new tiny home, it’s called The Lil’ House. The trip was stressful, and the car overheated a number of times… but, along the way I passed through the tiny pickle mecca of Dillsburg, PA. Who knew a place of such magic and dill wonder existed?! Thank you Road Side America…
After a long week of moving, crashing with friends, making new friends, and drinking a bit more than probably healthy, my 2 month “hobo run” has came to an end. I have FINALLY settled into my new space in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and I couldn’t be happier. Because all of my canning supplies were safely packed away in the moving pod, and because I didn’t exactly have access to a kitchen this past week, I instead spent some time thinking up new recipes, shopping for jar storage, and scoping out the local pickle/canning scene. Today kicked off the beginning the summer farmers’ market in town. I was very excited to stumble upon not one but several booths vending preserved goods. Although mostly your typical jams and jellies, I did manage to find some more wacky (you know I like to get weird…) canned varieties from the Maine Homestead stand. Head over to their website to take a look and even order a few jars for yourself.
If you’ve ever visited the NH seacoast region, you are probably familiar with its overwhelming friendliness. Not only have I found that people are in general ecstatic about pretty much everything, but more specifically that there is a huge interest in local food collaborations. I can’t say too much as of now, but several restaurants around town have let on to the idea of teaming up to produce site specific preserved goods! I am also toying around with the idea of signing up for a CSA this season. This would not only force me to get more adventurous in terms of what I had to put up, but would also guarantee local and in season food preservation.
This past weekend the beau and I headed down to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for his grandfather’s 80th birthday party (see trip photos). If you haven’t had the chance to visit this historical tourist trap, I suggest it. The environment and colonial monuments really do give you a different take on eighteenth century American life. As with most pre-modern American landmarks, Colonial Williamsburg did exhibit the slightly “unknown to the modern man” romanitc feel, but what felt different was the lack of granduer throughout the colony. Our self-guided foot tour comprised of a visit to the blacksmith, the tinsmith, the magazine, the apothecarist, the gardens, and lastly the stop that most peaked my interest, the Governor’s palace. Within the palace we experienced the kitchen, the cellar, and the preserved foods!! For this segment of “Pickles goes to” I figured I would delve into food preservation before the times of modern refrigeration.
You knew something related to science and canning was coming right? While eagerly searching for the starship Enterprise at the National Air and Space Museum a few Fridays back, I found myself thinking about food preservation for outer-space. Upon further investigation, I learned that in fact though American-supplied food is typically freeze-dried or dehydrated, many Russian-supplied foods are put up in cans and tins for food consumption (and reheating) in space. Space food can be processed in one of two ways: (1) thermostabilization: a method similar to canning, that heats foods to destroy pathogens, microorganisms, and any enzymes that may cause spoilage, and (2) electro-resistivity: heating that allows particles and liquids to heat at the same rate and permits the rapid heating of mixtures of high solids fractions (Fryer, 1995). For thermostabalized foods, a special heater is required, as you can’t just throw these pouches/cans into a martian microwave. The Russian space program has about 100 different food items such as fish products (pickled or spiced perch) for breakfast, a variety of soups, lamb with vegetables, sturgeon, borsch, goulash, curds, and nuts. Russian canned goulash floating in zero gravity space! Cool, right?
But that’s not all! Just one more tiny tangent from canning… “StarShip Gardens” are currently being developed by NASA. The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a space bound planter box capable of growing plants (initially lettuce strains and other salad-type crops) fit for astronaut consumption. Veggie is set for deployment to the International Space Station later this year (we will see, this is coming from an agency that postpones satellite missions by 5 to 10s of years). While this is not NASA’s first attempt to grow plants in space (see Diary of a Space Zucchini), it is the first attempt to grow space crops for cosmonaut feasting.
Now that space science is out of my system (for today), I’ll be back to posting earthling recipes next week! 🙂
Today marks the 2 week anniversary of the first Putting Up with Erin post! You’re probably thinking “keep it up for two years, then we will have something to get excited about”, but nonetheless I’m excited! Already have I had the courage to tell a young aspiring canner at the farmers market about the blog. Already has a friend in another state tried out a few recipes and posted photos on social media unbeknownst to me. Aside from putting up several recipes that I may have otherwise not tried, I feel as if all my preconceived woes, i.e. “why would I start a blog, I have no new content to offer” or “look at how amazing these other canning blogs look, mine could never amount to that”, of starting a blog have almost disappeared. I embrace the challenge of posting two to three new posts a week (without internet at home) throughout the on and off “season of canning”. I’ve have began thinking ahead to what types of locally sourced fruits and vegetables I will can during the dead of winter, and if the options are limited to local root veggies or store bought frozen berries, what types of non-recipe posts will I make. Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
© 2017 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.