Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hope you like jammin' too!

A message from the Assembly of God, Sumas, WA. 
(Note the Heefalump Dumpaloon showing a coy half-moon, stage left.)
I just took the last harvest off my blueberry bushes and made jam! My kitchen smells wonderful, and because I was forced to do so many, many 'taste tests', my teeth and tongue are almost black, just like my stony wizened little heart.  Anyway, I was standing there stirring the simmering berries, sipping a Pepsi, when suddenly I had an aneurysm. 

No no! Having laugh my face, silly persons! 

I had an inspiration

What's one of the ingredients in cola?  Cinnamon. That, and various types of sugar.  Things you'd add to blueberry jam anyway.  In it went.  Out came awesome.

It's sisterfuckin' good!

-Maybe about 4 or 5 cups by volume of extremely ripe blueberries, washed and picked over
-Two 12 oz. cans of Pepsi
-extra sugar or fructose depending on how tart your blueberries run

...see, the idea here is to use the Pepsi instead of sugar water to cook the blueberries in.  Otay? Otay.

Follow these instructions exactly or the Blueberry police will tase the shit out of you and you'll wake up alone in Blueberry jail with Mr. Zucchini for a cellie :

Dump blueberries in saucepan
Dump Pepsi on blueberries
Mash blueberries.  A hand mixer works rully rully good for this. (NOT a bamix.)

Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring to prevent scorching.

Now youse place a fine wire strainer over a bowl and force this mixture through the wires, or use a mouli with a fine screen.  Save the juice, dump the squeezed-out glop down the front of your underpants.  Or discard it like a normal person.  I'm assuming my usual readership here, though.

Check the result and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Right here you could pour the juice back in the saucepan and reduce it further if you think that's necessary Picky Smith.  Actually I did, plus I added more sugar too. Um.

Dump into a clean glass jar, let it cool, then tighten down the lid and put in the 'fridge.  It will set by itself without the need to add pectin. 

I already posted up a picture of my first ripe tomato of the year, but what the hell; I'll post it up here too:

...and my!  What an attractive tattoo!
 There's only been five more since (indeterminate plants.) We made salsa, but there's just the two of us and these are big honkin' tomatoes. With the few that were left over I made this:

Use them in dressings, use them in sauces, wear them like a hat; I don't care.

 Tomatoes, washed, stemmed, cut into chunks
Olive oil

Equipment de tomateuille of submergeurine oui oui:
 Clean jar with lid
Food dehydrator, or a very sunny, hot location and a fan

Dry tomatoes until they are still pliable...'leathery going toward potato chip' rather than 'gross warm mush'. Dump them in the jar, dump the olive oil in on top of them, put the lid on and then take it out in the sunshine and photograph it in front of some flowers.

Still reading?  Oh good.  This next recipe is really complicated and requires special tools and presumes access to stuff that you probably don't have access to,  which will make you cry and cry so hard all like 'WAAAAAAAAAA'  and I'll ignore you.

Awhile back I decided to try and make some loose incense, because I have too much spare time and a food dehydrator.  Now a word needs to be said here about food dehydrators.  Yes, AGAIN:

Those cheapo dehydrators you see for sale in, say, Wal-Mart or Target, they only work for things like a handful of oregano leaves.  These ones are the ones I'm talking about:
They rely on a small light bulb in the bottom for heat generation.  When the inside heats up, cool air is drawn passively through vent holes in the bottom and circulates up through the food trays and out a hole in the top.  It takes a longass time.  If you load the thing up the way the picture shows, what you end up with is lots of humidity lingering inside and the real possibility of mold growth on the material in the outer ring before anything truly dehydrates.  But who's going to sit around and wait for three hours just to dehydrate one carrot, or a few slices of apple? Please.

This is the type of food dehydrator you need if you mean to deal with realistic amounts of stuff:
Oh fuck it I'm sick of dealing with the alignment. ANYWAY.  This type has a fan at the back that forces warm dry air through and around the food; draws cool air in through the back and blows the moisture-laden warm air out the front through gaps around the door.  It also has a temperature regulator so you can turn up the heat on really wet items like raw meat or tomatoes. Dry one carrot in 45 minutes.  Dry a whole load of carrots in 2 hours. Serious as a heart attack. THIS is the one you want. 

Anyway.  So I'm making loose incense, which is just stick incense minus glue and the stick.  
Imagine it...you - yes, YOU - can experience the nasal ambiance of Rancho FirstNations just by following these simple instructions! 

-One standard pickle bucket of fresh, fully opened blossoms of Butterfly Bush (buddleia Davidii) ...blossoms left on central stem, excess + leaves trimmed away, UNwashed.
-Peels of 2 large lemons, just the yellow part (not the white pith or the flesh)
-Ginger root, 4 oz by volume, peeled and cut into extremely thin transparent slices (easier if you freeze it first; the peel rubs right off!)
-Powdered Sandalwood, 1/3 cup (purchase at hippie store or online)

-Organic, local honey, particularly if it is somewhat old and dark;  as much as it takes to aid dry ingredients in coming together into a meal. I'm serious about the local organic part too.  You know what one of the most adulterated, counterfeited things in the world is?  Big-brand honey.  (The other is olive oil. True facts.)

-Food dehydrator
-2 Glass or metal mixing bowls
-Small blade-style coffee grinder:
..clean it out really well afterward! 

-Dawn dishwashing liquid for washing your hands afterward; trust me
-Loose incense burner (or just use that spoon and candle rig you've got hidden behind the family Bible)
-A very clean jar with a tight fitting lid

- Stick the buddleia, the ginger and the lemon peel into the dehydrator, put the heat on medium-low, and leave it until everything inside is crackly potato chip - dry. This will have to be done in batches and the buddleia might have to be cut up a bit to fit into the dehydrator easily.  Using the recommended dehydrator, a full load with every tray covered loosely will take an hour or more depending on the humidity of the day. In my experience, a pickle bucket load of blossoms dehydrated down to about 1 1/4 cups by volume of ground material. 
-Wash your hands very thoroughly and keep your fingers out of your nose.
-Now strip all the buddleia blossoms off their stems and into one of the mixing bowls.
-Discard the stems and dead bugs NO SHIT REALLY. 
-Add the lemon peel and ginger, and crumble all the dry material with your hands
-Run it all through the coffee grinder in batches until powdered into as fine a dust as you can manage, dumping each batch into the second mixing bowl as you go. 
-Add the sandalwood powder to this.
-Mix these ingredients together using a whisk. Once mixed, put the whisk away. Now it's hands on time.
-Yes you have to wash your hands AGAIN. I saw what you did.

I saw it through your television set. You thought it was off.  And it is.

-Drizzle the honey over the whole surface in thin strands, then work it into the powder with  your fingertips as though you were rubbing butter into flour.  Keep drizzling in the honey and mixing until it all begins to feel just barely sticky and is coming together like coarse corn meal.  Your fingers will turn dark green and you'll have to scrape them off with a spoon so keep one handy.  A clean spoon. I CAN STILL SEE YOU.

Now comes the time-consuming part.
You have to work this stuff for a long time so all the different compounds release and start to mix. You'd think the coffee grinder would have done that but no.  It's heartbreaking. Now don't make that duckie face, c'mon now, it smells really really good and it isn't difficult.  Just stick your hands in there and squeeze, roll, crumble, squish, and crumble it again. When your hands give out, keep at it using a pastry cutting-in tool.  Use the spatula to scrape the bowl occasionally.  Make sure that every atom of material gets included.  It gets boring.  If I was you I'd get really wasted and sit in front of the TV with the bowl and just keep mixing it and dicking with it and squishing it until you straighten up enough to realize that you've been watching Telemundo and understanding it.

Now place the material into the jar and fasten down the lid tightly.  Store it someplace dry and dark.  No worries about spoilage!  Dehydrated materials don't rot, and honey, my honeys, has antibacterial properties, so it acts as a binder, an aromatic AND a preservative!!  The longer you store it unopened, the better it will smell.  I have no idea why this is; it just is.  But you can use it right away too and it will work fine.

You can make an incense burner!  Or you could buy a special brass burner with a grill and a bunch of those hockey puck charcoal things and a special fan to get the hockey puck things burning and special long matches to light it with and a special cloth mat to sit it all on and seriously fuck that in the ear. 

A loose incense burner can be as simple as a soup can - minus the label, snoid. Take it off now. Then:
-Cut off the top and suck out all the soup with a vacuum cleaner
-Now fill the can full of water and freeze it.
-Once frozen,  poke the sides full of artistically arranged holes.  If you don't your goats shall bear young with human faces.
-Dump out the ice, dry it off, and stick a lit votive candle underneath it.
-Wait until all the coating has burned off. This will stink. So much in life does, though.
-Wash it down, set it back over the candle, and you're ready to roll! 

The incense goes in a little tablespoon sized heap on top and stinks real purdy.

Now look at you, banishing lingering assy aromas with your for free incense and your free soup can burner that you maded yourself! You are the greenest person EVER.