Catching up before the new school year

So, I haven’t posted in about a month.  What have I been up to?  Well, the picture above should give you a clue.  My local grocery store had a bulk produce sale, so I decided to take advantage and finally try my hand at canning.  I put up a two jars of diced tomatoes and  two of whole tomatoes.  The above jars are cherries for baking.  I also made an attempt at cherry jam, but unfortunately I didn’t cook it long enough and it’s more like a cherry syrup.  Andrew assures me that it is still tasty.  Next year I’ll try again, and see if I can try other produce.  Maybe go to a few U-Pick farms to get it.  Since I have a pressure canner, I may also try to put up some homemade soups.  That’s my true canning dream.  Freezing things is ok, but the defrost time deters me from really getting into it.  The idea of opening a jar and dumping it in a pot, now that’s appealing.

I’m still working through the real food courses at GNOWFGLINS.  I’m not going through them as quickly as I like, but I promised myself I’d take this one step at a time.  Just getting better quality ingredients is a challenge.  Conventional food is cheap, temptingly so.  I did do a few experiments with soaking rice in with a small amount of acid, which met with mixed results.  One time I forgot to reduce the water afterwards and ended up with very soggy rice.  But every other time it was fluffy and soft, which wasn’t a common occurrence before.

The idea behind soaking grains is that grains, being seeds for plants basically, have defense mechanisms that  make it difficult to digest.  (This is a very broad summary.  Blogs like GNOWFGLINS explain this in much more detail, and I’d basically be copying their work.)  But using an acid or a live active dairy culture (yogurt, buttermilk, etc.), reduces these defense mechanisms.  Sprouting also works, supposedly, by moving the grain from seed to plant.  However, there seems to be some debate that this makes the defense mechanisms worse.  There’s an interesting discussion on the subject, and whether or not you should soak your grains in the first place, here.  My personal take is that soaking is probably best for me, though I’m willing to experiment with sourdough later, which is an alternative to soaking and sprouting.  Sprouting involves getting a supply of wheat berries, which would be expensive.

In other news, the semester is very close to starting, only about a week away.  What does this mean for the blog, especially since I just started posting again?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  My plan at the moment is to continue with my goals (crafting goal starts in September).  Andrew almost gave me a heart attack by suggesting that we might do our wedding in the spring.  We’re not, but the idea of having only 6 months to get into a shape I’d consider suitable for my wedding scared me.  So I have a new workout plan, and in September, I hope to start it.  I might write a future post on that.  School also means I’ll be carrying my lunch to campus, which will mean possible bento posts.  I’m going to be starting work on my research this semester, but no more exams means that my stress levels should drop significantly.

So keep this blog on your readers!  I may post about everything and anything, but I’ll definitely try to keep posting.