Turtle’s Canning Tips

October 7, 2010


I’ve been learning a lot about canning lately, and thought I would share some of my observations with you. Please don’t miss the two-part quiz at the end of this entry!

1. To ensure a proper seal, jars must not be tilted. Use the tongs to carry them upright into the heated canner, and out from the boiling water onto the table.

2. If too few jars are being processed at a time, one or two jars will tip over in the canner. It is very difficult to right them. The wet glass is slippery, and the water is boiling.

3. Your batch will yield the amount that the recipe states only 10 per cent of the time. Once in every twenty recipes, it will yield two jars more than was stated.  The other 85 per cent of the time, the recipe will make 1/4 to 1/3 less than stated.

The ugly truth about relish

4. In order to have enough jars to fill the canner, you need to follow several recipes — at least one more than originally planned — simultaneously.

5. Different foods require different lengths of time to process.

6. Different sizes of jar may also require different processing times.

7. To process safely, jars must sit on a rack in the canner, and be covered by at least one inch of boiling water. Once brought to a rolling boil, the canner will work best if its lid is not removed nor its contents disturbed.

8. A large canner will process only pint or quart jars; the spacing in its rack is too wide to hold smaller jars.

9. A small canner will process only half-pint or 4-ounce jars; there is insufficient headroom for larger jars.

10. The heat generated by the canner,  the boiling vinegar pickle syrup, the bubbling jam, and the pot of warmed snaptop jar lids, slows mental responses considerably.

Got that? Good! Here’s your homework.

1. You have harvested the last of the green tomatoes, cucumbers, and thyme from your veggie patch before frost. You have decided to make three recipes: the one for 7 pints of German Green-Tomato Relish, the one for 6 cups of South-Asian-Style Pickles, and the one for 6 cups of Thyme Herb Jelly. At your disposal you have 8 wide-mouth and 2 standard pint jars, 11 8-ounce jars, and 9 125-ml jars, all with suitable tops and jar rings. Your larger canner holds up to 9 pint jars, while your smaller canner holds 9 jars of either 250-ml or half-cup size. You want to fill the appropriate canners as full as possible, while using the maximum number of smallest jars for the herb jelly and the maximum number of mid-sized jars for the South Asian pickles. Knowing that the relish takes 10 minutes to process for pint jars, the pickle takes 15 minutes for pint jars or 10 minutes for half-pint jars, and the jelly takes 5 minutes for half-pint jars (the recipe doesn’t mention half-cup jars), how will you proceed?

2. Given the odds in Tip #3 above, what is the probability of your solution being a workable one?

In Which Fergus Works Hard For His Treats

October 3, 2010

Today was the boys’ last class of their first five-lesson session of Agility. After skipping next week for Thanksgiving, they’ll come back for another five lessons before Winter break.

Cai has done quite well so far. He catches on quickly, and except for the perilously tall A-frame, he’s perfectly comfortable with all the equipment.

Fergus had tummy troubles one Sunday morning and missed a class. Fergus is also a little nervous around the equipment. I’m becoming more convinced, in fact, that Fergus’s macho stance (he spent the first three minutes today telling off the largest dog in the class) is a cover-up. Poor tyke.

Today we practised the Dog Walk. It’s a set of three planks, the two end ones sloping up to the level middle one. To execute the Dog Walk correctly, Poochie must stroll its entire length, his paws touching the yellow section on both ends. As you can see, in the photo at top, taken at 4:26:29 pm, Fergus is trotting along the Dog Walk, easy as you please, with E.g. loosely holding his leash. He is emphatically not, you will note, repeatedly abandoning ship as he had been at 4:21:29 pm.

 In those intervening five minutes, did E.g. teach him how? No. Did Turtle? Nope. How about the instructor? Not really.

Cai taught him.

Cai’s problem was bouncing along too quickly, skipping merrily off the far end before his feet touched the yellow part. I wasn’t sure how to fix that. Then I watched the little brown Poodle, Lucy, whose humans had been advised to make her sit on the Dog Walk every few feet, to slow her down and build her confidence.

So, en famille, I started Cai along the Dog Walk, and E.g. and Fergus followed on our tails. When Cai stopped, Fergus stopped. And Fergus, trusting Cai, walked all three planks.

Then he walked it all by himself.

Then he walked it all by himself back again, by which time I had my camera out. Ta-da!

The following photos show a new trick we learned today, the Table. You say, “Fang, Table!” and Fang jumps up on it and you throw him a nice raw steak. Eventually you give him the Down command, and he lies down for his porterhouse.

Our dogs know the Down command already though, so here’s the sequence wherein Fergus comes up Shiny:



“Good boy!”

You Never Know What You’ll Find in a Quonset Hut

September 11, 2010

The furchildren found a playground!

There were two more dogs at agility class today, plus Bear, who came last week. Plus another dog on the sidelines working on desensitizing. Plus the trainer’s move-modeling dog. Plus another of the trainer’s dogs, who liked wandering through the tunnel to look for abandoned tidbits.

 Unsurprisingly, it took a good half hour before Cai started paying me any mind at all. Kiddo, you and I have some homework this week!

Anyway, with the extra students, I found a free moment to get the camera out.

Here’s the instructor, smiling because Bear has gone through the tunnel. Bear is much braver about enclosed spaces than he was last week; his daddy is very proud of him.

Behind the instructor is a blue and yellow chicken-walk. It’s part of a thing called an A-frame. Veteran hikers Cai and Fergus had no problem trotting along this shaky piece of plywood and jumping the 50 cm to the ground.

Then we tried the real A-frame.

There it is, on the right. Five and-a-half feet high. Cai got up nearly to the top with a bit of help from me, but I ran out of armlength to get him up and over. Then E.g. and Fergus approached, and Fergus went Whee! right up the thing and down the other side. So Cai tried again — and did it! My Woo-hoo resounded off the corrugated walls.

Fergus was a little less sure about that tunnel, especially once it was bent into a J-shape. E.g. would bring him to the entrance, race for the other end, and Fergus would back out and run around it, beating her to the exit every time.

Look!  Here he comes now, wondering whether there’s a light at the end of that tunnel. Ready, set…you can do this…c’mon…

Whew! And look — even better than a light — it’s Mummy!


September 5, 2010

Every Sunday morning, I’ve been walking around the property taking photographic records of garden life (or lack of it). Here is a photo from this morning of an amaranth plant called Love Lies Bleeding. It drapes over a one-foot-high plastic “picket” fence, at the back of the parking pad planter, beyond which is a row of sunflowers.

Knowing I could play with the straightening tool in my Picasa program later, I didn’t attempt to muscle aside the sunflowers but slipped my arms in between two of them, taking the shot without looking at the screen (I was about to say “through the viewfinder” but this camera doesn’t have one).

So. Not being all that good in the 2D department, let alone 3D, I puzzled awhile about how to straighten the photo. Below are six versions. Which one do you prefer?

Original shot

Aligned vertically with closer righthand side of first picket

Aligned vertically with righthand side of second picket

Aligned vertically with maximum length of sunflower stalk

Aligned horizontally with bottom edge of siding

Aligned vertically with unpainted fence post

And that’s our blog for today, folks. Scintillating, eh? Almost makes you wish you’d gone to church instead of playing on the Internet, doesn’t it?

(Wordless Wednesday) Captions, Please

September 1, 2010

Soilless Blogging

February 5, 2010

Cuca and some pals curl up for a Friday nap.

Hi, people!

My friend, both real and virtual, Shelley of Yasashiikuma Kennels, sent me one of those ice-breaker quizes yesterday. I decided to post my answers today for a quick, landscape-free blog entry.

Somewhere along the line, the quiz skipped from #22 to #24; the omission was noted by an astute previous respondent, so I filled it in again.

The most curious thing about this quiz is that it’s entitled, “38 Odd Things About Me”. Perhaps whoever deleted #23 was offended by a question regarding a true oddity, such as, “Do you have three of any body part usually assigned in pairs?” Otherwise, the quiz is pretty tame.

Anyway, have a glance through this, and feel free in my comments section to respond to any of these questions yourself.

Have a good weekend! 

1. Do you like bleu cheese?  YUM!! 

2. Have you ever been bitten by a dog?   I’ve been gummed a lot. 

3. Do you own a gun? Not even a grease gun. 

4. What Flavor Kool-Aid was your favorite?  Tangerine. 

5 . Do you get nervous before a doctor appointment?  No, but I go into convulsions when they draw blood; not a pretty sight. 

6. What do you think of hot dogs ?   One more good motivation for becoming a vegetarian. 

7. Do you give money or other things to panhandlers?  Panhandling is illegal in Saint John. 

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Usually coffee; but if I’m up on a night shift, I prefer tea with lots of milk. 

9. Can you do a push up?  No, my boobs wouldn’t fill the cups. 

10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?  Jewelry? Does a velcro-strap wristwatch count? 

11. What is your favorite hobby?   Playing the soprano recorder. No, blogging. No wait, choral singing. Oh, hang on, crocheting. No, I know, birdwatching. Umm…define “favourite”. 

12. Do you have A.D.D.?   Nope. 

13. Do you wear glasses?    Since I was 12. 

14 Middle name?  Elizabeth. 

15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact  moment. It’s time for bed; it’s lovely having a doggy curled up on either side of me; supper was good tonight. 

16. Name 3 beverages you drink the most. Water, coffee, milk. 

17. Current worry?  I’ve just resigned from my job (give back the uniform on Monday); I’m taking a holiday from worrying right now.

18. Current hate right now?  The way this bloody gmail program jumps around while I’m trying to fill in these answers. 

19. Favorite place to be?   At home. 

20. How did you bring in the new year?  Sleeping.  

21. Where would you like to go?  I’d like to visit my blogfriends in Ontario, the States and Australia. Stop in for an hour or two on my way through their various necks of the woods. 

22.  Name three people who will complete this?  No. 

23. Who removed #23, and why? Whoever it was had never, ever revealed that information, and wasn’t about to start.

24. What color shirt are you wearing?  White undershirt, blue turtleneck, blue button shirt, grey fisherman sweater 

26. Can you whistle?   Sure can. 

27. Where are you now?  On the dog sofa, with Cai and Fergus. 

28. Would you be a pirate?   No; after menopause, it’s very hard to have a wooden leg. 

29. What songs do you sing in the shower?  Whatever’s in my head at the moment, spirituals, classical, big band…but usually to “doo” instead of words. 

30. What is your favorite girl’s name?  Hannah. 

31. Favorite  boy’s name?  Jonathan. 

32. What’s in your  pocket right now?  Keys, handkerchief, and cell phone in left pocket, wallet in right. 

33. Last thing that made you laugh?  “Dennis’s Diary of Destruction”, “Cody Bear’s Friends”, “Laugh in the Sun”, Cai being silly with his toy, Fergus and his lopsided grin… 

34. What traits do you hate most in people?  Untrustworthiness. 

35. Worst injury you’ve ever had?  ?? 

36. Do you love where you live?   Yes. 

37. Do you have any tattoos?  Nope. 

38. Are you a hard person to buy a gift for? Beats me. What’s your budget?

Fun With Ancient Manuscripts

December 20, 2009

What follows is the result of a fill-in exercise, much like the ones Goodbear has sometimes organized, that I used as a party game at our community choir’s Christmas party on Friday.

I began by stating, “As we all know from Elementary Linguistics class in university…” and explained that when translating ancient manuscripts, one occasionally must simply guess at a missing or unintelligible word or phrase, and then decide how well it fits into the greater text. I had a manuscript here, I said, that I’d almost finished translating, but there were still some gaps, and I wanted people’s help.

Everyone enthusiastically called out items for the following list:

  • a food
  • two animals
  • three articles of clothing
  • three vehicles
  • four famous people recognizable by their first names
  • seven parts of a building
  • twelve parts of the body
  • and two imperative sentences (i.e. commands).
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

I scribbled their answers down in order as best I could; interesting to see how the finished product starts out fairly tame but gets crazier as it goes on. And this is how — oh wait, before beginning, I should explain that one of the suggestions was inspired by a  joke told earlier that evening, the punchline of which is, “Well, if you’re going to use that rusty old thing, I’m getting a tetanus shot!”

And this is how the text turned out, with group-supplied words in italics.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the roof with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The deer were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of brussels sprouts danced in their heads;

And mamma in her sweater and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the beams I flew like a flash,

Tore open the foyer and threw up the sash.

The moon on the feet of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering nose should appear,

But a miniature Buick and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than frogs his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Tiger and Vixen!

On, Cher! On, Madonna! On, Elvis and Blitzen!

To the top of the window! To the top of the wall!

Now, Get lost! Get lost! Get lost all!”

So up to the door the coursers they flew,

With the Pontiac full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

As I drew in my teeth and was turning around,

Down the basement St Nicholas [fell] with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his spleen to his foot,

And his panties were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

His elbows — how they twinkled! His esophagus, how merry!

His rusty old parts were like roses, his breasts like a cherry!

His droll little knuckles were drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his pinky finger was as white as the snow;

He had a broad cheek and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the bras; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his ankles aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the shower he rose;

He sprang to his bicycle, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Bite me! — and to all a good-night.”

Of course, it would have been even funnier if you’d been there. And it would’ve been great if you had, because this was my most successful teaching moment ever.