Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Can "Can!"

My Grandma and my Grandpa
Last Sunday I taught myself to can.  No one in my family canned and I don’t know why.  I think growing up in California where fruit is abundant is the only reason that I can come up with.  My grandmother would make a bunch of apple pies at once and then freeze them.  Here was the reasoning that my mother told me, you only have to make a really big mess in your kitchen only once. 

So while living in The Netherlands I only saw canning supplies at a very few stores and they were in the specialized kitchen stores only.  The Dutch are seasonal eaters, they eat what’s in season and that’s it. I actually liked that because I would look forward to white asparagus in the spring, split pea soup in the winter.  The Swiss seem to be different.  I can find canning supplies everywhere here.  One of the grocery stores even had the supplies right next to the fruit and vegetables. Which tells me that the Swiss like to can. 

I thought that I said something last year about my Grandmother’s apple pies and that she made hers with Gravenstein apples (I can’t find it, so I guess I didn’t).   She swore that they made the best pies, but doesn’t every grandmother say that about their favorite apples?  Gravenstein apples are grown in the Sonoma area of California; my grandmother lived close to Sonoma hence the reason why she loved the Gravenstein apples. When we moved to North Carolina in the late 1990’s, I couldn’t find Gravenstein apples.  I was heart broken but I thought,c'est la vie … something to look forward to when and if I ever get back to San Francisco after this journey with The Shaker.  When we moved to The Netherlands they didn’t have them either.  But last fall, I walked into my local grocery (The Coop), 1 block down from our apartment, 150 - 200 meters easily and there they were … Gravenstein apples!  I was over enjoyed and possibly even did a little happy dance right there in the Coop!

So this year I thought I am going to try my hand at canning.  Do you know how easy this is?  I am actually embarrassed at the simplicity of canning. I used 2 links in my method:  The canning link and the recipe link, from Mommy's Kitchen.  But the jars that I bought came with directions as well – in English, no less.  On the recipe link I cut most of the sugar out; I went from 4-1/2 cups down to 2 cups.  Also, the recipe link I have provided, I am not baking an apple pie with my jars.  I wanted to eat mine either right out of the jar (figuratively not literally) or with vanilla ice cream.

My apple pie filling

My whole set up

The finished product

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday's Tin of the Week

Body Pump Wino Nut was gone most of the summer in the US, only to get back, get over the jet lag, see her friends and then head back out again next month to the US.   But she brought me this Fossil tin and a huge bag of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips**

**A Martini Digression: Something to ponder over: how come one can only buy Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips in the US when Nestle is a Swiss company?  Then reason steps in, suggesting that I should, therefore, be able to buy Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips here because I live in Switzerland, but I can’t … only in the US.  It makes no sense …

The Martini Knitter

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Jimmy Jacket

As you know I am a big fan of my Fit Bit.  As I have said I have enjoyed the motivation that this little gadget provides with it’s badges and its friends list.  The friends list has become to me like a social network: you can see how your friends are doing and then either send a message, cheer them on or flat out taunt them.  For The Shaker he must always be ahead of Body Pump Wino Nut and for me I am just happy if I am in the top 5 of my friends list as I have added friends who run marathons! But in addition to keeping up with my daily 10,000 steps goal/8 kilometers distance, I have been swimming as well.  I have not quite added bike riding as my “backside” is still recovering from the Burgundy vineyard tour.

But I can add another finished summer project to my ever-growing list of “what’s getting off of my needles.” I finished my Tangled Yoke Cardigan and it’s about 2 sizes too big.  I was so excited when I finished and then instantly bummed when I tried it on.  Here’s another dilemma when it comes to my knitting, once I reach gauge I just seem to go off knitting without a care in the world.  Do I bother to pay attention that I lost 2 dress sizes and maybe this new cardigan won’t fit?

So when I told The Shaker this really good news because honestly I don’t want to be where I was at, I want to be where I am now.  The Shaker looked at it and said, “Cool! You knitted yourself a Jimmy Jacket.” 

The Jimmy Jacket

Jim was a friend and a work colleague to both The Shaker and I and our girls.  He passed away a few weeks right before we moved to The Netherlands 9 years ago.  He was a wonderful, kindhearted man who we think and speak of daily. He taught us a very interesting parenting tool that we could never quite grasp in our household – if you slam your bedroom door as his daughter (the second of 3 children) often did, you lost your door.  He just came in and popped the door right off of the door’s hinges and it was taken away.  This never quite took off in our house as Gin and Vermouth never slammed the door, but … cough, cough I often did and still do. Not something I proud to admit to in a blog post but for Jim I will … He inspired The Shaker to start Hawaiian Shirt Friday after we moved to The Netherlands, which sadly, never took off there, but there’s a glimmer of hope here in Basel. The Shaker inspires his fellow Americans and Europeans colleagues to get out their Hawaiian shirt and wear it on Friday. 

Halloween at Jim and Cathy's
Jim with Gin and Vermouth.
A far better photo of Jim and his wife Cathy
Shortly before we left North Carolina his wife, Cathy, gave The Shaker a Hawaiian shirt (that he still wears) and The Jimmy Jacket.  Jim came to Austria for business and bought himself this beautiful traditional wool Austrian cardigan.  The Shaker wears it all the time and it has become known in our family as “The Jimmy Jacket.” 

So when I realized that my cardigan was 2 sizes too big, and not fitted like it’s suppose to be like on the model in the photo I really appreciated The Shaker comment and compliment: “Hey, look! You have a Jimmy Jacket too!”

My Jimmy Jacket

So even though we had Jim in our life for a brief time, he made a very large impact to our lives and we will always be grateful for his and his family’s friendship to us.

We miss you Jimmy …
The Martini Knitter