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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

He asked! I said yes!

Monday, July 9th was a very memorable day. It started off as just another Monday. Jason had to leave out headed to Indiana so I was going to carry him to the truck yard. I love getting to drop him off at work, although I hate to see him go. We decided to meet his mom and sister for lunch before he had to leave. I called my mom to see if she wanted to eat also. We made plans to meet at Chiles at noon. On the drive to Pine Bluff he was so cheerful and funny. We were singing and dancing to the 90s on 9 XM radio station. (some one remind me when the suspension goes out on the Pretty Prius that we shouldn't dance in the car). He didn't seem nervous or anything.

When we arrived his mom, sister, and niece were already seated on one side of the table. I took the seat nearest the wall, trying to be courteous to my mom and Jason. Jason likes to sit on the outside, so Mom took the middle seat. We ordered and got our drinks. Jason stood up and asked my mom to switch seats so I could sit by him. I thought it was kind of weird, but switched with her.
Then when he kept standing and looked nervous, I knew something was up. He pulled a ring box from his pocket, knelt on one knee, and melted my heart with the sweetest proposal. Of course I said YES! Then Taylor, who is 4, came around the table with a dozen long stem pink roses and asked if I would  be her aunt. I nearly started crying. Even if I could have said no to Jason, there was no way to say no to Taylor! :)

I was so happy that our moms and his sister got to see him propose! My mom was crying! And his mom and sister took pictures. A waiter came by and gave me a high five and people were awwing and smiling at us. A few clapped. It was fun :)

And then I dropped him off to go on a 3 day run to Indiana. The people in his office were laughing that we got engaged and then he left. But it didn't seem strange to me. He works hard for our little family of doggie kids and for our future big family. I feel so blessed to be marrying the sweetest, most thoughtful, doting, loving man in the world.

I was shocked!
The beautiful ring!

The beautiful roses that Taylor picked out

I gave Momma Debbie (Jason's mom), Ashley (Jason's sister), my Momma, and Taylor (Jason's niece) each a flower from my bouqet. Taylor loved playing with hers and used the long stem to pretend it was a magic wand. She is so cute!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to sauce a tomato

I have been so busy canning this year. One of the easiest things to put up is tomato sauce. I use my Kitchenaid Fruit and Vegetable Strainer attachment to make things go quicker.

Wash tomatoes and then quarter. You may need to cut larger tomatoes into 6 pieces.

Insert the raw, cut tomato into the hopper of the strainer and use the plunger to feed into the strainer.

The good tomato parts come out at the left.The skins, seeds, and cores are discharged into the waste bucket at the right. No fear, this will go to the compost pile :)

Pour the good tomato sauce into large pots and let it simmer until it is reduced by half. This may take 4 or 5 hours, depending on how juicy your tomatoes were. I set a timer and stir about every 7 minutes to make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom of the pot.

I can my sauce using a water bath according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation instructions. This is the only safe source for research based canning information.

My KitchenAid and Attachments make canning so much easier :)

Confessions of the Corn Princess

I nearly overwhelmed myself with corn this year. I put up over 350 ears of corn! Jason has taken to calling me his Corn Princess.  I am okay with that :)
I just love Esau corn. For those of you who "ain't from round here", let me educate you for a moment. Chester Esau grows sweet corn down in Dumas, Arkansas. His workers (mostly family) then pick it and put it into sacks. Each sack has about 70 ears of corn in it. You don't have to drive all the way to Dumas to get this golden treat. There are several places around the state who pick it up from Esau's corn shed and resale it. It costs between $18 and $20 a bag and is well worth it!

So how does one go about creaming corn? Here is a step by step guide with pictures:
As soon as you get home with your corn, lay out an old sheet in the middle of your kitchen floor and spread the corn out in a single layer. Yes, it sounds "corny", but you gotta do it. The idea is to cool the corn down so that it doesn't start going bad on you. The quicker you can process your corn after you get it home the better. If it is going to be overnight  BE SURE TO DO THIS!!!

Next you need to husk your corn. Just grab a section of tassle and pull toward you. Then pull the opposite side. Be sure and get as much of the silk off as you can resonable remove at this point. Also, I leave the stalk at the bottom to give myself a handle during the cutting process.

Wash your corn under cool, running water. Remove any silk that may still be on the cob. A small nail brush works well for this. Just label it and keep it for this purpose only.

Now for the cutting. Get yourself a SHARP knife and a big, clean dishpan.  Hold the cob in one hand (by the "handle" if you were paying attention before) in the dishpan. Take your knife and lay it almost horizontal. Then shave the kernels off the cob moving from top to bottom and then rotating the cob to get to the next section. You are trying to only remove about the top 1/3 of the kernel.

On the left side of the cob is what you want. See how the top of the kernel is just shaved off and the rest is sitting there all juicy and glistening?  The bottom part is BAD. Do not cut off the whole kernel. You will end up taking some of the cob and your corn will taste, well, cobby. You also won't get any corn cream from those kernels.

Once you have shaved the whole cob, turn your knife over so that the dull part is closest to the cob. You want to be at about at 45 degree angle. Now scrape your knife down the cob. This removes the yummy good stuff inside the kernel. This corn "milk" or "cream" is what makes cream corn. Repeat all around the cob, working from the top to the bottom.
This picture doesn't show the correct knife angle. I was trying to show what the good stuff looks like as your scrape the cob.

This is what the cob looks like after you scrape it. See how the cob is intact and each kernel cell has been excavated?

Once you have finished with all your cobs, stir the batch and then spoon into microwave safe bowls. I use my pyrex casserole dishes. Fill each bowl about 3/4 full, cover, and then microwave. You want to cook it for about 5 minutes after it starts bubbling good. This process is called blanching. It halts the enzyematic reaction and keeps your corn tasting fresh.
After the corn is done, remove it from the microwave and immerse the bowl into a tub of ice water to quickly cool it. This is called shocking and stops the cooking process. If you just leave the corn to cool on the counter then it will actually continue to cook the flavor and nutrients out.

Once the corn has cooled, transfer it into labeled freezer bags. It should keep in the freezer for a year.

 You can also freeze the corn in the husk for grilling later. Just wrap it tightly in a garbage bag and place in the freezer. It won't last as long as blanched corn, but it is fun to cook on the grill.

If you prefer corn on the cob: Husk, wash and cut your corn to length. Then immerse the corn on the cob into a pot of boiling water for 9 minutes or so (blanching). Remove and place into a pan of ice water (shocking).  Drain and place in freezer bags. It should stay good for up to a year in the freezer.