Don’t clean your kitchen

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Listen up cooks of the world! Whatever you do, don’t be as dumb as I am and clean your kitchen when it’s canning season! If you do, well, you’re setting yourself up for some real skull pain trauma. And the story goes like this…

“Hello the House”

There I was surrounded by no less than three overflowing five- gallon pails of ripe tomatoes waiting to be processed, a half bushel of wonderful succulent apples anticipating a pie baking fiesta, several large fresh cabbages plus carrots, onions, and my ever present zucchinis and then what happens? At our front door comes a knock with a “friendly hello the house” call from our good neighbor bearing more gifts! His wonderful gift was another five gallon pail of fresh cucumbers, which under normal circumstances would have been most welcome, but not this time. I looked at him and tried to smile and I did say thank you, I think. Oh my, but then other things occurred as I pondered the scene.

My cup runneth over

The phone rang with a much anticipated visit from some dear relatives, who were coming to our house right after dinner to work on our family history records. Oh, I was so glad that they were finally going to make it to our home for a good chat, but as I looked at my kitchen– one question popped up. How were they going to make it through the kitchen door? My cup runneth over with garden produce and jars and pressure cookers and lids and cook books and stuff. Now what was I going to do with all this mess? I couldn’t let my company see what a messy housekeeper I was. That would never do. For without a doubt, my dearly departed mother would come straight down from heaven and give me a scolding and a thrashing. There was only one thing to do.

Stuff and puff scenario

Jane sprang (actually fumbled) into action. And since my family calls me the “greatest

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stuffer of stuff in the universe,” I stuffed and I puffed and I stuffed some more until the mess in my kitchen was completely cleared. Everything in sight had been stuffed into some nook or cranny or carried to the basement. The kitchen was totally clean and sparkling in no time flat with even a fresh bouquet arranged to perk up the scene.

My poor men had to eat a very quick noon meal with their dishes hastily snatched from their grasp as they gulped the last bite. They realize when Jane is in this clearing frenzy mode that their sole purpose in life is to keep quiet, to eat quickly, and to vamoose promptly— which they did.

Skull pain attack

The company was great, the chat delightful, and the family history research project priceless. But as soon as the company was gone, reality set in. Back to canning and here is where the plot thickens.

I could not find my recipes that I had laid out special to use for making our favorite soup mix concoction, ice box pickles, and the best ever apple pie. I had stuffed them somewhere, but where? I could feel the infamous skull pain attack coming on strong. Well, headache or not, I had to find the recipes because the tomatoes were at the peak of perfection for canning, the apples were almost spoiling, and the cucumbers were yellowing by the moment.

So-o-o, after some two and half hours of turning my clean house upside down, I finally found the recipes safely tucked inside one of my scrapbooks in the living room. How they arrived there, well, we all know how they got there.

I must have stuffed them there for safe keeping. Why did I put them in the scrapbooks? I don’t have a clue. On the positive side, what a joy to realize that I was still living up to my family’s claim: “Jane is the greatest stuffer of stuff in the universe.”

I do have one true clue

I may not have a clue why I put the recipes in the scrapbook, but I do have an all-important true clue to relay to you readers. And that is: “Under no circumstances will I or should you readers clean up the kitchen during the canning season! Believe me; the skull pain is not worth the effort.

Happy Canning Everyone.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: jgreen@itctel.com

Plain Jane’s Favorite Garden Recipes

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs (beaten)

1 cup oil

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons maple flavoring

1 cup walnuts (optional)

2 cups raw zucchini (grated)

Directions: Mix eggs. Beat in oil; then add rest of ingredients in the order given. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Makes 2 loaves.

Icebox Pickles

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

4 cups vinegar (I prefer cider vinegar)

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

Directions: Mix ingredients together in a large kettle; bring to a boil and then cool mixture. Slice enough cucumbers for 2 quarts and put some sliced onion in each jar. (Do not peel the cucumbers.) Then pour cooled syrup mixture over cucumbers. Place in refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Sample to see if they are done. Will keep for a long time in refrigerator.

Helpful Hint: I like to make a large batch so I put my sliced cucumbers with at least two onions in a large gallon glass pickle jar. I usually need to make two batches of syrup. Also, I have used rather large firm cucumbers for this recipe and have had good results. Make sure the cucumbers are firm and still a nice green color.

Celery Seed Dressing

(Great for cabbage slaw!)

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 medium onion grated (watch it!)

Directions: Mix well and pour over chopped cabbage for a delicious cabbage slaw. (I usually put my dressing in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved.)

Hint: The dressing will last indefinitely in the refrigerator. To freshen the mixture, just shake it up and then pour over the chopped cabbage.

Soup Mix

1/2 head chopped cabbage

2 large onions chopped

4 quarts chopped carrots (I use only 2 quarts)

1 bunch celery chopped

green pepper (optional)

1 gallon ripe tomatoes or 1 gallon tomato juice

1/4 cup canning salt

Mix altogether and put in large kettle and cook on stove for a while. Pack hot mixture into jars and process at 10 pounds pressure for 30 minutes.

Makes about 7 quarts with a little left over.