Yes, we CAN!

yes we CAN

yes we CAN

As we speak a giant pot full of a simmering mixture of fruits and spices is on the stove reducing to a sweet, sour, pulpy, hot delicious concoction. Today, for the first time ever, mum and I are canning. Yup, real time, old skool canning. Preserving. Putting up food for the winter.

It was a perfect activity for a Thanksgiving Monday replete with gorgeous fall colours and a pronounced nip in the air. A perfect activity for mother and daughter. A perfect activity to top off the season of our first-ever garden.

I remember thinking earlier in the season that it would be a bit of a stretch to envision myself actually canning, for a number of different reasons. First off I wondered if we would actually be successful enough with our garden to have enough produce to put up (sshh… don’t tell). I also severely doubted my own ability to tackle a project that I see as something that women of past generations inherently have the magical talents to produce, talents that weren’t passed down to my generation.

Turns out that the internet comes in pretty handy and there’s very little talent involved at all. Follow a recipe. Make a few phone calls to your canning expert and you’re golden.

In the interests of full disclosure you should know that none of the produce we’re canning today came from either Lodi or our garden. But the tomatoes for our chutney did come from the front yard of my apartment building in Ottawa and they were looking so forlorn hanging in their unripened state week after week that I can only imagine that they are happier serving a higher purpose in our chutney.

Canning

Canning

Now the most important ingredient in our successful canning experience was of course our canning expert, our friend and Lodi resident Carolyn who helped us get started and then answered some important mid-canning questions. Apart from the important basics she let us know that it doesn’t have to be perfect and that chutneys are very forgiving, which I think is an important quality for our first canning experience!

My grandmother was a great canner and I hope that with one chutney under my belt I can become half as good as her at some point in my life. I’m thinking raspberry jam next summer… ooh, and maybe apple sauce… oh, and of course pickles!

Oh, and by the way, everyone’s getting chutney for Christmas.

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On being far from home…

I’ve been missing Lodi the last few weeks after an intense spring and summer of work on the garden, the properties and of course visiting with friends and family. Now that I’m back into the city swing of things I feel far from the comfort of Lodi and the feelings of home.

I’ve never lived in Lodi though I consider it my home town as much as my real hometown, St. John’s Newfoundland where I was born and raised and Ottawa, my current home base. It’s a bit odd, but I guess in this scenario I’m always away from my Lodi home, which does make me feel nostalgic and wistful.

a Ford Fiesta like we used to have

a Ford Fiesta like we used to have

When I was little and for many years we used to drive from St. John’s to Lodi. Yes, drive. If you’re wondering what that was like, let me paint you a picture: a family of four + enough supplies for 2 summer months activities + a 1980s-era Ford fiesta (canary yellow). I know you’re picturing an overstuffed roof rack as well, and piles of baggage piled between the two children so they couldn’t possibly whack each other. Oh, and take that mental picture and stretch it over four travel days. Four days. Four people. Two ferries. One Ford Fiesta.

The Ambrose Shea

The Ambrose Shea

I remember loving those trips, though I’m sure I was miserable at some point if not for the entire four days. But certainly the highlights were the two ferry rides we had to take: one to get from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia which took 18 hours in those days. The other ferry took us from Nova Scotia to Maine and then we were in the home stretch. We used to take the sturdy and dependable Ambrose Shea to take us across the tumultuous Atlantic. The ferry was not glamourous but I loved it nonetheless. There was shuffleboard on the upper deck, James Bond movies in high rotation and a cafeteria that feautured endless combinations of things that could be smothered in gravy.

All of this travelling made the arrival in Lodi all the more sweet. We loved getting there but we loved being in Lodi for the whole summer much more. I’m much closer to Lodi now, only about 4.5 hours from Ottawa, but it still feels like a slog to get there. That feeling of arrival remains as sweet as ever.