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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Well-Preserved from the Valley…

Pickle me thrice

Yesterday the author returned to the classroom for the first time in ten years. No chalkboards here. No first of the period roll taking. And I did not have to give a single assignment. And better yet, did not have to correct any.

 Pare a peel

I brought some of the Valley with me for show-and-tell: all local produce I had dried, jammed, pickled or frozen. In fact that was pretty much The Valley, pickledthe title of my presentation at the Pacific Culinary Studio in Everett: “All Dried Up, Jammed, Pickled and Frozen.” No sophomores in this classroom; just four attentive adults who were interested in the “laying  by” of local fruits and vegetables.Attentive class

Instead of a piece of chalk in one hand and a book in the other, I wielded a vegetable peeler and top-of-the-line kitchen knife. The Culinary Studio features a marvelous demonstration kitchen and is well-stocked with the culinary accoutrements that would make any chef feel at ease. For audience optimum viewing every movement I made, clumsy or otherwise, was reflected by an overhead mirror and and aired on a closed circuit t.v. 

Closed circuit





Reflects well on me

While the class munched on dried zucchini slices, tomatoes and apples, I proceeded with my presentation. And for the next three hours I felt like PBS’s George Ray, without a moustache, of course, and doing the actual work instead of standing by snatching up the food as it arrived hot from the stove.

Mine was a live performance, a first time run through with no rehearsal: no script to follow; no editing of mishaps or inept fumblings. My tutorials included drying apples, freezing blueberries, and pickliDrying applesng beets (2 jars, pint and one halfs; my fingertips this morning are still a blushing pink) and a pint jar of gourmet sweet cucumber pickles (from immature gherkins picked  fresh from the vine that morning). I capped off the performance by sharing my experiences preparing jams and jellies, gave a short explanation of my homemade preserves: pepper and quince jelly, quince-apple marmalade, and cooked strawberry jam. 

Blueberries to freeze

In the last few minutes we moved from show and tell to show and tell and taste when the class sampled my jalapeno pepper jelly spread on crackers and cream cheese. (Sorry, class, I forgot to share the refrigerator pickled beets, just plain didn’t set them out.)

From my days in the classroom I learned that “To teach is to learn twice.” It was true then and certainly held true yesterday. I learned that every man needs an island, a cooking island, that is. I nearly learned NOT to leave the heavy handle of a sauce pot over an ignited gas burner (thanks to my observant wife Trecia. Because of her vigilance the class was most certainly spared an expletive undeleted in this live performance). I learned “it’s as easy as cooking with gas” ain’t all that easy. And I learned, sadly, there’s even less hair on my head than I had thought.

Bald spot

Before I exit this post I would like to extend a few thank-yous. A well-deserved thanks to Lindalee McCandlis for her fine facility and allowing me the opportunity to share my love of home canning and food preservation with others. Thanks, too, to my wife--and partner in food preservation--Trecia for helping me prepare for the class and keep my wits about me during the session


And class, thanks for your patience and attention for a session that went longer than scheduled. A good class you were too. Not a single time-out issued. Not one hour of detention assigned.

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  1. Very cool Dad!! I bet your students learned a lot! I wish I could have been in the audience. :)

  2. I would have like to be there too! Especially for the "show, tell and taste" part. Yummmmmy.

  3. I just got done making 11 quarts of your "One Jar at a Time" Dill Pickles ~ how long should I let them sit before we open them and start eating?

  4. Lynn,
    Wow!I am impressed! You are 6 ahead of me on the "jar at a times." Of course, I probably used five quarts worth of baby cukes in my sweet pickle demo. Patience is best with pickles. I would wait at least a month, maybe two: the longer they age, the better they'll taste. TJ