Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just when you thought it was safe....

  And just when you thought you were "wrapping it up"....LOL   Well, as you can see by this picture, taken the first of November or so, it LOOKED like fall had arrived and the season of rest and recuperation was upon us.  Sort of.  I mean, we all know that the part from about November 23 or so, until January 1st or so, was looming and would be hectic. But it's a different kind of hectic from the canning and gardening time.  It's more fun. It's more relaxed (for some). And a time of pleasure and family and good will and all that jazz.

 And usually I agree that once the garden quits, whoo...time to slow down. But it was the "quit"-ting part  that Mother Nature didn't seem to understand.  In fact, today is November 28th and I still have lettuce, chard, kale, carrots, beets and turnips in the garden. GROWING.  Lord, it feels like Mississippi.

  After Halloween, I was at my favorite little local market and he had a box of sugar pumpkins out. When I came in, he said--I saw you looking at those pumpkins. I quickly said-No you didn't.  He made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and I came home with a box of 10 of those little beauties (about the size (max) of a volleyball). I wasn't terribly excited, except that I had gotten this box of pumpkins for about a buck and a quarter.  And I'm always excited by a bargain. lol  But I really dislike canning pumpkin because it's so much work. And such a mess. But I was consoled by the thought that I would have a lot of pumpkin seeds to roast, so that made up for it. I can use them in my granola bars for the Irishman's lunch instead of all sunflower seeds. I froze 10 quarts of pumpkin from those babies. Wow. Nice. And now my freezer is full. The next time I stopped by the market a few days later, he said--hey, want some more pumpkins? I firmly said No, thank you. And he said, well, didn't you say you wanted the seeds? You could just take the seeds out and throw the rest away.  (He doesn't know me well enough to know that I almost never throw anything away.)  I said no thanks and headed for the back of the store. By the time I reached the cash register, he was smiling and said hey, I'll GIVE you those pumpkins. No charge. And then I stopped.  I started thinking, I could maybe feed them to the chickens. I know they like the pumpkin guts, they'd probably eat the meat. He said, I'll load them in your trunk. I said how many? He said, all of them. They were big old jack-o-lantern pumpkins. He said they probably weren't edible by now anyway, but the seeds should still be good.  I thought, well, they can always just go in the compost.  Long story short...I came home with a trunk full of big pumpkins, 9 or 10.  Sigh....

   Of course, all but one of them was fine and perfectly edible.  I roasted a gallon of pumpkin seeds and canned another 14 quarts of pumpkin. 

 So I am now pumpkin rich.  And suddenly I am finding recipes for all things pumpkin that sound glorious, like pumpkin granola and pumpkin scones and  pumpkin cinnamon rolls ! 

  And afterwards I cleaned everything up and put away the canner and thought, heck--done!  Yippee!

  But then Thanksgiving came. And as you know, I always use everything up to it's bitter end, every time i can do so.  And I always cook down the turkey carcass and can or freeze the stock for soup.  It's a really marvelous thing to have in your pantry.  

  As the Irishman was going to his dad's for Thanksgiving, and I was staying home to tend the critters, he made a foolish remark about how now I wouldn't have to do all the work like I usually do. I was planning to go spend the day at my brothers, and his wife was cooking the turkey and all I had to bring was a dessert and side dish.  By Wednesday afternoon I was beside myself and knew that the only thing that would make me feel better would be the smell of turkey roasting in my house. Bahahahhahaha.

  I went to the market to see if I could find a last minute turkey and sure enough, the holiday gods were smiling on me and I found a FRESH turkey. I grabbed it up and headed home. Right after I started it cooking, I got a phone call and was informed that I had won another turkey in a drawing at a local market. I jumped back in the truck and went to pick it up.  It was frozen, so I put it on the bottom shelf of the fridge to thaw. Thinking I would cook it on Friday.  When my fresh turkey was all cooked and I took all the meat off the bones, I dumped the carcass back into the roaster, filled it up with water and a dash of vinegar and set it on low to cook for stock.  By the time I got to my brothers on Thursday, my sister-in-law had already cooked the turkey, pulled the meat off it and bagged up the remains for me to take home with me. (Gotta love that girl!!)  So later, when the event was all finished and I was back home, I dumped her carcass into the roaster with my carcass and left them to cook merrily, while I recovered from my food coma on the sofa.

  The next day, Friday, I put the 3rd turkey on to cook and began the laborious process of pulling out bone and sifting and sorting through it all to strain the broth and pick out whatever meat made it into the stock. 

Since I had plenty of turkey from the first one I cooked in the fridge, I decided to just can the 3rd turkey, so after going through the same process, I sifted and sorted the turkey, pulled out the big bones for the dogs (they're all in the freezer in  a ziplock bag), pulled off all the skin, and started again. I canned some jars with plain stock, some with some turkey and mostly stock and some with mostly turkey and some stock.  Assorted pints and quarts.

About 27 all in all.  and THEN...I washed up that canner and all the canning supplies and put them away and I swear to you--I am not getting them out until next summer.  I don't care what.

  You know the best part? By the time I was all finished, I had less that half a bread bag of actual waste from those 3 turkeys. And by waste, I mean bones too small for the dogs (necks, vertebrae, etc) , gristle and goo. All the rest of it got used up, fed to dogs and cats, and  put into the freezer.

  Now THAT'S a successful session !  And we'll have soup stock, turkey for noodles and all kinds of other yummy stuff for a while to come. And all it cost me was about 12 dollars for the turkey#1, and time. I still had plenty of canning lids and have a gazillion jars.  No outlay of cash there.  Winner winner turkey dinner! 

Bon Apetit !