Thursday, July 31, 2014

Aunt Ann, Multitasking, and the Kitchen

The thing about this cooking stuff is that if  you do it right, you have a feeling of accomplishment that you can eat.  If you do it wrong, it's a meal and not a life time commitment.

The problem with it is that I had a mental visit with someone who I grew up in my mind.  I kept hearing her "I've only got two hands, will you calm down?"

Over And Over And Over.

A couple days before this incident, I was out at the local non warehouse warehouse store.  Since I am very flexible with my own diet, I was pricing main dish food.  I was looking at the coupons I had on hand, two dollars off this, three off that, that sort of thing.  I had a great coupon for a rather large container of hot dogs.  They are the kind of thing that I have always had as an occasional thing since they're not exactly the best thing for  you.   Looking at the nutrition sticker I passed.  Each hot dog was 140 calories out of 170 of fat.  Not good at all.

I was torn between some "Premium Burgers" and some Pork Loin.  I had to ask myself just exactly what made Premium Burgers, Premium, anyway?  Did they come into your house, cook and serve themselves?   Were they made of some futuristic ethically superior cow that wanted to jump out of the pasture and into the box?  Were they standing by the road saying "Moooo!  Please Eat ME! Moooo!"?

I doubt it.  Claims of Premium status are almost always just that, Claims in word only.

I settled on the Pork Loin.  The price of a lean piece of pork was a dollar a pound cheaper and it gave me an excuse to make some Barbecue since I would be the only one eating Ethical Cow or Unethical Pork.

We got my Unethical Future Barbecue Pork Loin home and into the refrigerator where it will wait for the time to be made.

In the meantime, the next day, we hit the big supermarket downtown.

There is a rule in this house.  If I can make something better and cheaper, we go with homemade.   If I can at least come close to the quality, homemade.

When I say rule, I really am saying, don't let me catch you put that jar of Cherry Jelly into the basket or else.
It went back onto the shelf and became a tease back and forth for the rest of the night.  Besides, I really do like to make that stuff.   It's a lot easier than you might think.

Or so I thought.

Finally that day hit.  I had a large block of time to get the restocking of the refrigerator done.  I needed to make some main courses for the week, and now would be the time.

I cut that pork loin in half, froze part for later, and put the rest into the crock pot with a half cup of barbecue sauce.

Note to Self: Use a cup.  It was good but not quite as good as it could be.

Pressing go, I reminded myself to watch the crock pot.  I only wanted the Pork to get internally to 145F, and that crock pot would cook to 180.

Pork doesn't need to be cooked the way it was Back In The Day.  That is to say, "well done".  Well done is typically 165F and pork loin cooked that hot tends to be rather over done.  A Pork Chop cooked that hot could be used to resole your shoes.

All this was going through my absent mind when I realized that after grabbing that jar of cherry jelly with a lecture out of the cart, I needed to replace it.   I had to make Cherry Jelly.

Another Note to Self: The canning pot takes between 45 and 60 minutes to come to a boil plus 15 minutes to sterilize jars, lids, rings, and all the crap it takes to can things.

That kind of got in the way.

Aunt Ann was in my head telling me to "Calm Down, you only have two hands!".

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But, my dear childhood Aunt Ann was right.

I turned away from the Cherry Jelly to get the gear out of the pantry slash laundry room.  That was being cooked by the bread machine anyway so it wasn't going to be babysat.

The pot got on late.

When the bread machine beeped, I found half of a jar worth of bright red cherry flavored goo sitting in the bottom of my one month old bread machine.  My heart sank as I was getting a mental lecture from my inner Kevin as I said that we'd have to make another trip back to the thrift store to find another bread machine with a Jam setting.

There was enough Cherry Jam in the pot to warrant trying to can.  Two full jars and a half.  That should calm someone down before he dares to reach for cherry jelly in my presence!


I still haven't checked that machine.  I had to turn the hose on the inside bucket to wash out the bright red goo that would have looked like it was in place on a candied apple.

The goo, by the way, tasted excellent.  Always taste your goo.

I was happily multitasking away, waiting for the water to come to boil any second now, when I thought to check that pork.   170F!  DAMN!   I quickly unplugged the crock pot, growling at myself, the International Crock Pot Manufacturers Cabal, and everyone from Thomas Edison to the writer of Charlotte's Web.

The pork was overcooked to me.  Might have been good for someone else, but ... well we went through that before, Aunt Ann, I'll do better next time.

I'd bloody better.  I have an electronic thermometer that will bleep at me when a preset temperature gets hit.

The water was now at 205F, almost there.

I set the timer once the temperature hit boiling.  It was going to be a late lunch at this point.  At least I could snack on some Well Done Pork Barbecue.  Not bad, if a bit "pedestrian".  Will go with some vegetables I have here....

Pot's ready, set the timer for 15 minute, Aunt Ann!

I'd better do that myself.  The ghost of my dear Aunt won't be of any help here other than to remind me that I'm multitasking too much in the kitchen.

The jars managed to get filled, sealed, and replaced in the boiling water for another 15 minutes.

You know how they tell you not to put glass directly on a source of heat?  I had that happen to me in my own head again.  I think this was my father coming to me through time, I'm not quite sure.

Other than having visits from ghosts of my own childhood, what happened next had me shouting at the pot loudly enough to scare the dog.

Sorry, Rack!

I reached into the pot to grab the first jar.  The smallest jar, it lifted up and promptly lost its bottom.  Losing your bottom in a pot full of boiling water means now that I have cherry and glass soup in a giant Lobster Pot sized apparatus.  I was hoping that the other two jars would be safe, and they were.

So the rule for the day?  Multitask anywhere, but the kitchen.   Your Cherry Jelly, no matter how good, will thank you for it, and your Pork Loins should always be cooked to 145F!

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