20 September 2014

Going Rouge

Summer is becoming fall very quickly here in Toronto.  I'm a low-to-mid twenties kind of girl (degrees celsius, of course), so I'm enjoying the transition.  People are layering and canning and putting summer away, sort of bedding down for the winter still to come.  Our social calendar goes into overdrive at this time of the year - I guess everyone tries to get all the visits and the dinners and the drinks in before it starts to snow and we're more homebound.  

This time of year makes me want to go outside; to just go and see trees with leaves and green grass and flowing water, none of which can be seen here past November.  This past weekend, we went to Rouge Park, which is currently run by the Rouge Park Alliance but is on its way to becoming the first National Urban Park in Canada. It's located in both Toronto and York Region, running north-south from Markham through to Rouge Beach on Lake Ontario.  We went through only a small section of trail (Orchard Trail), but it made me want to see more of the massive Park and also to let others know that it exists and is more than worth a visit (or five - it's really, really big).  

Links and Photos

While on our walk, we heard the creek and also plenty of birds.  We startled a blue heron that was fishing in the creek, which then flew right over our heads on its way to a place with less annoying company.  Our walk took about an hour or so, and it wasn't hard hiking or anything - just pleasant mild exertion.  

You should go.  We'll see you there.

14 September 2014

Relishing the Moment

As some of you probably know, Ontario's corn crop has been wonderful this summer.  So wonderful that I wanted to preserve it for the whole year ahead, until next year's corn crop arrives. Corn relish is a golden yellow, vinegary-sweet mixture that is excellent on sandwiches and burgers or as an accompaniment to various roast or grilled meats.  It's hard to find good corn relish in grocery stores, so I thought that I may as well try my hand at making my own.   

A confession: I've never canned anything before.  Not for me the boiling of jars and lids, filling, boiling again, and testing for seals - I wasn't sure that I had the patience necessary for the process.  Turns out though that I could manage it, just as long as it was done in a small quantity.  It may turn into a yearly thing - we shall see.

But for you, a few photos and a quick lowdown on the canning process.  As you can see, I chose tiny jars - the Bernardin 125 mL ones - because I will likely be gifting these, and I don't like to gift a huge amount of something I made just in case it turns out that the recipient isn't as big a fan as I am.   

Canned Corn Relish - cooking the relish

(I'm not going to include a recipe because I used an amalgam of several recipes I found online and adjusted to taste.  The main ingredients to have are the kernels of about 9 cobs of peaches and cream corn, about a cup of red pepper, three cloves of minced garlic, a cup of some kind of green pepper which can include jalapenos or spicier varieties if that's what you're into, a couple cups of white or cider vinegar and one cup of water, a half cup of brown sugar, at least a tablespoon of pickling salt, a teaspoon or so of dry mustard, and a tablespoon or more of green Tabasco sauce.  You boil all that up together for about half an hour, then you taste and see what might be missing.)

Canning Process for Dummies

1. Sterilize your jars.  If you have a "sterilize" option on your dishwasher, use that.  If you don't, set a giant pot of water to boiling, then boil those jars and lids for about 5 minutes.  Remove everything.

2. Even if you have the sterilize option, you will still need to get a big pot of water boiling, so do that now.

2.  Put some of the hot water into a bowl, then set the lids into that.  The lids need to be hot.  

3.  Ladle your mixture into the jar while mixture is hot and jar is warm.  Leave about a half inch of space from mixture to the top of the jar.  

4. Grab a (sterilized) knife and run it through the mixture in the jar to remove any air pockets or bubbles.

5. Put the lids and the rings on fairly snug.  Not "snug" as in you will need 3 strong men to remove them, but snug enough that they won't come off in the boiling water.

6. Put the filled jars into the boiling water, and boil for about 15 minutes.  

7. Remove very, very carefully.  Don't touch - they're hot.  Place on a towel to dry and cool off.  Give them about an hour or so, then press gently on each lid.  If the lid "gives" when you press down, that means it didn't seal.  Set any that don't seal into the fridge to eat right away.  The ones that did seal can go into a nice dark cold cellar or cupboard and will keep for about a year.