Elva Alice Hunter

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since Sep 06, 2020
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Recent posts by Elva Alice Hunter

When I get unwanted plastic credit-card type promotions in the mail I cut them on a sharp diagonal and use them to scrape grease or residue out pots and pans before they get washed.
The pointy end is especially useful for cleaning out that gap between the edge of my counter and the stove top, or working off baked-on drips around the gas burner.  

They are very good for removing labels from glass jars that merit re-use.

To be clear:  I use these for cleaning; never for food prep.  They ultimately get nasty, so I either re-cut them or throw them out.
I surely wish these wouldn't come in the mail at all, but by finding a use for them before they enter the waste stream I can indulge in a tiny sliver of sweet revenge.

4 weeks ago
"Southern Supreme" is my favorite.  I buy next year's loaf and keep it tucked in my freezer, because I can't imagine Christmas without it.  
Thin slices are lovely with tea.  
Thicker slices cut into small squares and speared on a toothpick with mild cheddar cheese and/or a bit of apple or pear make easy canap├ęs.  
Here's their website: Southern Supreme Fruitcake
4 weeks ago
Martin, thanks for reminding us all with your wise words:  "... each canning session I feel like I learn a bit more."  

That's so true!  This is just my 6th season, and I know I have a ton more to learn.  Too much fun!
1 month ago
So glad to see this question! Greens seem to be especially susceptible to this problem. While I've never had quite as significant a loss as you describe, my jars typically come out showing loss.  I steam my greens lightly before filling the jars, and have wondered if that's producing too dense a pack.  On the other hand, more pliability makes it easier to be sure there are no air pockets, and the steaming technique I use allows me to capture the water for use in topping up to required headspace.  

Still, some jars lose more than others.  My alternative theory is that it may have to do with the ripeness of the greens themselves, and how long it's been since they were picked before I get them processed.  

Even when the water level in the jars ends up lower than the content, I've never found the product to be less than wholesome.  But I've gone to using only quart jars for canning greens precisely because of this phenomena.  It's true that quarts take up more shelf space, but a 3/4 full quart jar is still a more usable quantity of greens than a 2/3 full pint.

Bravo YOU for canning this year's harvest!  Be sure you mark your jars with the month and year - so you can remember how our lives all changed in 2020.
1 month ago
If I "spend more" by purchasing from makers or producers in my own community, I choose in favor of quality - every time.  If I have to seek further for that quality, I will still choose small, independent makers or producers even when the price point is higher.

For me, that's the difference between being a consumer and being a human; being just a bit of demographic data that drives algorithms and fuels marketing strategies - or taking part in a larger, human ecosystem that nurtures skills, sustains traditional wisdom, encourages innovation and turns "demand" into something deeper and more meaningful.  

I understand that classic economics relies on terms like "Supply" and "Demand" for it metrics and theory, and I honor that science for its value in debating legislative and social policy.  But I can make my individual choices in such a way that what I buy isn't just about what I spend. What I save isn't just about my money.  

Sermon over. That's all just the longer version of what Mother always told me: "We're too poor to buy cheap."
1 month ago
I wold like to know what "BWB" means.  "By the Way Books?"  I'm out of guesses after that ...  Thanks.
I'm hoping that someone might have wisdom to share for a safe way to preserve "green" peanuts by canning them. I like to boil my peanuts freshly dug, in lightly salted water with a few florets of star anise broken in for flavor.  This is not the traditional Southern-style "boiled peanut": I use the shelled peanuts as wonderful, protein-packed additions to any dish flavored with curry, such as a creamy carrot or potato soup.  The recipes I found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website are all about canning fresh peanuts in the shell, but I'd really like to save shelf space by having jars of just the meats.  Thank you all.  
2 months ago
Every household is different, and now it seems that even within one household different eaters bring different preferences/ethics/restrictions to the table that a cook is expected to accommodate.  

So I'd start by looking at my trash, and asking some questions.   What am I throwing out?  If it's lots of packaging, then I know that money I need for nutrition is being spent on disposables.  I'd ask myself if there was a way to obtain or create that particular comestible such that I was actually getting food someone would eat, rather than inedible cardboard, glass, or plastic.

I'd ask myself whether it's absolutely necessary for that person to continue eating that item with that frequency or consistency, just to keep the peace - or whether I could find recipes for home-made alternatives that might actually become new favorites.  Maybe even learnable - so that person could prepare food for themselves should I disappear.   Now that we're all at home, we might even make some good memories in the kitchen together making a big batch of granola or oatmeal "breakfast cookies."

If I saw lots of take-out containers in my trash, I'd look closely at whether they are empty or have scraps.  YUCK!!! You'll say.  Well then, take a look before they go into the trash.  But if eating "out" is a big part of your life (and it is for most Americans), think about how to order food that will come with component parts you can use for another meal.  Just as home cooks often deliberately prepare meals that will produce leftovers, you can accomplish the same result when you order from a menu or get delivery.  A simple example: Half a serving of mashed potatoes can become a wonderful soup combined with the broccoli that Johnny wouldn't touch and some grated cheddar cheese, all stirred up with milk and a cube of chicken bullion.  Vegetables of any sort - and yes, even French Fries, can be chopped and combined into a filling for omelettes.   With a little practice, you'll find that you can harvest lots of useful flavorings and spices too.  Chop those bits of pickled ginger that come with sushi into little bits - They add great flavor to any simple salad dressing or veggie dip.  I use scissors to snip those decorative strips of Nori into cabbage slaws - so good!  Ideally, the only thing you'll have left is that ornamental plastic grass.

You get the idea.  I know we're trained to think about food only as passive consumers, thinking only in terms of what we can spend - not what we've been given and the abundance all around us.
 We can change that.  Cooking and eating can be active manifestations of our creativity, our generosity, and our instinct for gratitude.

2 months ago
With all due respect, I'm not seeing the advantage to using a canning jar in the freezer.  Why not use them for canning, and scrounge or salvage commercial jars to use in the freezer?  If you're concerned about the air-tightness or seal, line your jar with a used plastic bread bag cut to size, place your product in the bag and close it with a twist tie before closing the lid.  If you have zip-lock type bags where the zipper has failed but the bag is intact, just cut the zipper off and the bag will work admirably for this purpose.  You can also slip a note into the jar labeled with the content and date.  This technique will also protect your product should power go off:  Your label stays dry, and the interior bags will not be contaminated from the drips that inevitably happen when other items thaw.

As far as keeping your pucks separated so they don't glom onto each other:  Next time you have a box of crackers or cereal, harvest the bag they come in.  Tear it open along the seams into a flat sheet, and cut it into whatever size or shape you need to "file" in between each item.  When I do buy bread, I use these sheets to separate the slices before freezing.  I use this material instead of wax paper between layers if I'm freezing a batch of cookies, or even just putting them on my porch to soften now that the weather is cooler.  The material is food-safe and lasts forever; another good reason to keep it out of the landfill by giving it service in your home.
2 months ago
I have jars that have been in service since the 50's at least, and some even older.  Even today, garage sales and estate sales are good places to find jars. They are often in good shape, not having been dumped in boxes and hauled to a donation center.  Some of mine are from a friend who was dismantling her mother's home to put it on the market.  Made before obsolescence was intentional and disposability was not the presumed norm, old jars are good jars unless they are cracked or the rims are chipped. Nor do they have to be "Ball" branded; Kerr and Atlas take contemporary lids and rings, both large and small.  I love knowing that my jars have been tended by careful cooks, who fed others and planned for the future.  If you want to see some great vintage photos of these fine people, standing in front of their pantry shelves with pride and independence, visit Shorpy.com (here's the link).  I am with them when I open up my pantry to look at my own.
3 months ago