Thursday, November 5, 2009

I heart my pressure canner

Spent a fair bit of quality time with my pressure canner last weekend, and it was great.
I love to cook.  Cooking, reading, and bicycle related stuff are my hobbies.  Home improvement I would call more of a compulsion than a hobby.
I find it really relaxing to cook, a good way to unwind after a long day (especially when combined with a nice bicycle ride home).  Unfortunately I'm not a big leftover maven.  Leftovers are fine for lunch, but I'm not one of those people who can make a big batch of something,  eat it for dinner, eat it for lunch, eat it for dinner etc until its gone.  However there are enough days when I get home at 8pm and I need to put dinner on the table in a hurry, that I can't always cook, and my puritan side is reluctant to call for takeout.  The classic home cook's response to this dilemma is to pull something lovingly home cooked out of the freezer and have something lovingly home cooked and slow simmered in less than 15 minutes.  Unfortunately my freezer in my small fridge is tiny.  There have been discussions about putting an auxiliary freezer in the basement, but no resolution.

For now, I'm really enjoying canning stuff.  Pretty much anything that you can freeze, you can pressure can.  Unlike water bath canning, it doesn't have to be acidic, because the pressure allows you to bring the temperature up to 240 which kills just about anything that can grow anaerobically.
I've been canning a lot of beans, which is a great and cheap way to make good quality beans with flavor and known ingredients that are ready in a hurry on a Wednesday night.

So I was craving goulash last week now that it's getting chilly.  I was kind of tired when I started the recipe and I misread two things.  First, I used sharp instead of sweet paprika.  Then I accidentally doubled the amount.  It was pretty much inedible.  Fortunately I made it in the pressure cooker,  and it only took me 30 minutes to find this out instead of the three hours the recipe called for.  So I put it in the fridge, and went back to the grocery store the next day to get ingredients enough to double the recipe.   doubling everything else made it tasty, but now I had a LOT of goulash.  So I canned the extra half.  Now instead of having to dig through the depths of the crammed freezer, I can just pull it off the shelf, and be ready as soon as the microwave can bring it from room temperature to warm.  My future self is thanking me some cold night at 8pm...

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