That means good 'ol fashioned marmalade, apple sauce, pickles, and jams. Some say its popularity has made a comeback because of the recession and people want to save money. I'm not so sure I agree with this. Call me a cynic, but I don't think that people are going to spend an entire Saturday boiling tomatoes, peeling them, making tomato sauce, boiling the cans, and then waiting for the lids to go "ping!" just to save a buck.
I want to believe it's something more, something that may have started before the recession began two years ago. I think people are reverting back to simpler tasks and activities in their life, activities that do not require the iphone, wii, boondoggle, or dinglehopper. Canning is a way of taking control of the food you eat and the way you prepare them. It's fulfilling to say, "I made that!" or "Crap, I screwed that up."
Food is more than a past time. It is a passion, a way of life, a representation of cultures and years of history, an art form, and pure pleasure. Canning is simply another way of expressing one's love for food. And let me tell you: I love food.
I love food so much that it's hard for me to explain it to the normal person. My boyfriend, Dave, has put up with my crazy grocery shopping, high meat standards, and complaining at crappy restaurants. "Well, I'm sorry, but if I can make it at home, why should I pay $10 for it?"
There is something so amazing about knowing exactly where your food came from and how it got to your table. Have you ever sipped raw milk? That is milk that has not been homogenized, pasteurized, bleached, or whatever else they do to milk. What about a fresh tomato? You'll never eat a cardboard grocery store tomato again.
I'm not sure if I can convey how or why I love food so much. I know what it's like to taste an amazing dish and feel your whole body sink into itself with the first bite. I know what fish should taste like (same with cheese.) There's just no comparison! But why do I love it? I don't know if I can articulate that. Um...it makes me feel good?
Whatever your reason is for enjoying food, keep it up. Seek out the best ingredients, the best farms, and other people who are passionate to bring a quality plate to the table. Keep chopping those mushrooms and mincing that garlic, even if it's just for you.
Here's a favorite soup of mine that I had in Argentina. This recipe is from Joy of Cooking and it's every bit as good. (I love to top it with sour cream!)
Cream of Carrot Soup
Heat in a soup pot over medium-low heat until hot:
*1/4 cup water or stock
*1 tblsp butter (optional)
Add and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionallly, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes:
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 tblsp minced peeled fresh garlic
*1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
*4 cups stock
*1 cup orange juice
*1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the carrots are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a food processor or blender, process until as smooth as desired. Return the soup to the pot and stir in:
*1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
*1/2 to 1 tsp salt
*1/8 tsp black pepper
Heat thoroughly, but do not boil.