So let me tell you a personal story about tradition, lifestyle and how I spent my Sunday night.
I am of Ukrainian decent and a farm girl to boot. Two entities that thrive on tradition and lifestyle. Specifically that Ukrainians love to eat and living on a farm one loves to grow and cook the produce to eat. Win win situation for me!
So the season of harvest is upon me. But unfortunately that means everything is ready all at once. The cucumbers, squash, crabapples, beets, etc. All within a small window of opportunity to get them things out of the garden and into the freezer or jars if you want to serve loved ones peak of the market freshness later in the season. This weekend it happens to be crabapples and cucumbers.
I dig through the "Recipe Cupboard of Doom" (striking similarity to a mans sock drawer. You know the condoms are in there, but you have to dig through everything to find them) trying to find the 2 recipes that have been handed down through generations of my family. My(actually my aunties') famous dill pickles and my (greatgrannys')much sought after crabapple jelly. Now grant it, I know those 2 recipes like I know the long list of my girlfriends phone numbers and email addresses. But no good Ukrainian female makes something without having that damn recipe right there, in your face, on the counter. I don't know, somehow it feels like a long lost relative is there in your kitchen, giving you the finer points on how not to screw up their recipe. "Eday ne hoi Missy, the dill isn't fresh!"
The 6 pails of crabapples have been sitting on the kitchen floor for 5 days now. Yes 5 days, I've been tripping and cursing over them for exactly 5 days! The recipe is on the table, the ingredients on the cupboard and the apples rinsing in a sink filled with bone chilling, thin layer of ice, cold water and await my talented hands (why farmgirls rarely bleed when they cut their hand, it's frozen solid! Also why we are so good at um...well...cuz we need to use male bodily heat to thaw them out. Now you know why we are so good at milking cows...at harvest time the men are scarce being out on the fields and all). Oh Sunday night, that's right.
For all you novice out there, jelly is a long process and temperatures and ingredients and measurements have to be precise and absolutely accurate. Just like the work to have the engine under the hood of your car finely tuned and purring like a pussy (cat). The jars are in the oven, hot and sterilized, the jelly boiled to the exact temperature and all the little details worked out. Time to put the jelly in the jar, if ya know what I mean.
*Side note= typing this out, I also realize now why farmgirls like harvest. Canning, when explained right, is damn well right out sexy!*
Here is where you weed out the farmgirls from the sissy city ones. City girls would use oven gloves. Farmgirls are much braver (actually courage has little to do with it, compared to the need for heat). You learn quickly how to remove the scorching hot jar from the inferno of the oven and place it on the stovetop to fill with the sticky, sweet, flavorful jelly, being certain to drip a little on your fingers to lick off later.
5 of the 30 odd jars I hope to fill are sitting on the cupboard and number 6 is being filled. Hindsight number 1 strikes. The jar makes a very unfamiliar sound, a little teeny ripple kind of sound. I ignore it and put the sealer and ring on and move it to the counter. Hindsight number 2, a second more distinct sound, a slight cracking. I lift the jar up the bottom to my face (not unlike looking into the barrel of a loaded shotgun) when I am met with an explosion of burning sticky jelly and glass. It's funny
how I can turn into Super Nurse when an emergency occurs for ANYONE else. Me...I stand there stupidly thinking...I just wasted a jar of jelly! Then the pain kicks in and in a millisecond I have stripped naked and am standing among the carnage calling out for a wet towel. Ya right...you're alone ninny. It's when I move, slipping in the jelly covered floor, wipe out and see the little birdies and shiny stars floating around the room, that I wish I had a damn Lassie dog! What's that? Missy has made jelly and is warming her hands? Why'd ya waste my time on that, ya stupid dawg?!
When I finally slip and slide into the bathroom, I realize just how badly this has turned. I am scorched from my chin to the waste of the cutoffs I was wearing and the front of my legs are spackled with jelly as well. Call 911, jump into a cold shower or light up a smoke and enjoy it just incase I end up in emergency and can't have one for several hours? Ok....have a smoke while I call the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
Have you ever called a hospital, in a tiny rural town, after hours AND on the same weekend that the big annual rodeo is happening? Ok, you know how this turns out then. But I need closure on this little tale so I'm gonna tell y'all anyways.Hello, hospital emergency ward, nurse Colleen speaking, how can I help you?
I was making jelly and one of the jars exploded, could you tell me how to tell if it is bad enough to come to the hospital for treatment?What kind of jelly dear?
Crabapple if that really makes a difference?OH MY! That must of hurt!
Yes..it did AND STILL DOES!There's a girl around here, makes the best crabapple jelly..are you from around here? Maybe you know her?
Please just help me, I'm alone and would like to know if I need medical attention...before I die from the burns!Oh yes...just some housekeeping to look after first. Your name.
Missy M..Hey Missy, it's you I was talking about earlier! Guess you won't get as much jelly this year (heehee)
Yeah..haha...the info?Oh yeah...let me see...just get it up on the screen here. Oh and a few more questions...your address, home phone number, age, medical number, doctors name, phone number...
Ya know Colleen, I'm gonna take care of this the best way I know how. Thanks. Good bye.Wait...want me to keep this to myself or can I share it with the girls?
Good bye Colleen.
An hour after the phone call and several huge bath towels soaked in the frigid water in the sink, I take a couple of T3's and wander off to bed. Falling to sleep thinking how nice it would be to have a warm male in bed to warm me up.
So it's Monday. My chest hurts, is covered in blisters and needless to say, not a bra or stitch of any kind mention of clothing is touching that area of the torso for several more days (yeah drool, I'm typing this nude from the waist up). Hot cup of tea at the side of the puter, sharing my Sunday night with a few buds and the jelly (which by the way has successfully set) and broken glass still splattered all over the walls, floors and my clothing I was wearing, waiting to be cleaned up. But wait....it's Monday and the cucumbers are screaming out to be converted into MY famous dills (why farmgirls LOVE making pickles...another time...another story). Damn life is great. Traditions and lifestyles on the other hand suck!