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Canning the bounty

It's a lovely day at the farmette. Coolish, although they're calling for 30C and a chance of showers later.

We're ramping up canning season because the tomatoes are ripening at a good clip. Yesterday, we did a marathon session - not quite enough produce yet to do a full tomato saucing, so we opted for chili sauce. Grandma's chili sauce recipe in the Bernardin canning book I got years ago to be precise.

Every year, I forget how much work goes into it, how good the house smells as a result and, of course, the tastiness of the finished product.

I took tomato duty and Rob chopped all the other veggies and added in the spices and vinegar.

The tomatoes needed to be blanched, which meant cutting a little X in the bottom of each, boiling them for one minute, dipping them in ice water for another. Then it was a matter of peeling, coring and chopping them up.

While I was busy doing four pounds of the red lovelies, Rob was merrily carving up red and green peppers, (some from the garden) onions (definitely from the garden - we have tonnes of them) and garlic. It's an old-fashioned recipe, so the brine and spicing consisted of vinegar, pickling salt, mace, mustard seed, cinnamon, cloves, celery salt, brown sugar and horseradish - which Rob did as well.

Then we threw everything in the pot, brought it to boil and let it simmer and cook down for couple of hours.

After hot dogs on the barbie and a little nap, it was time to 'put up' our sauce - as my mother would say.

Proper preservation means that everything has to be hot - the jars, the lids the sauce itself. So being careful is huge. More than once, I've scorched myself by accidentally brushing up against our gigantic canning pot. Not yesterday, though.

By about 2 p.m., the jars were filled and cooling on the table - alongside the glads, which have burst into bloom now, too. We only had one dud - that didn't seal - so we'll eat that one first. They're usually good for a few weeks in the fridge.

After all that, I was glad I booked dinner out and neither of us had to cook. We finished the day with an amazing birthday meal (yes, I am spoiled) at the Flying Chestnut in Eugenia. My trout, risotto and green beans were sublime and Rob's fettuccine with shredded duck was supremely spicy. We also indulged in a creme brûlée that was to die for. YUM.

I think it's a take-it-easy day today - might take a tootle in the Miata if it doesn't rain too early. Hope friends and family have a safe and happy week. Until next Sunday....

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