Now, I know canning seems like a massive undertaking. There’s the canner or pressure cooker, jars, lids, special utensils, special ingredients . . . it all seems like so much. Fortunately, summer is also known for something else: ubiquitous garage sales. You can acquire almost everything you need to start canning next week for less than $20, and the only really hard part is finding produce at a good price for all your projects. Luckily “u-pick” farms may be found in every direction, where you can procure fruits and vegetables at a significant discount compared to retail. Just after the start of blueberry season, I was able to go picking and hauled away ten pounds at $1.85/lb., a steal compared to $4 for a dry pint (10 oz.) at the store!
About: Blake Belleman
I'm Blake Belleman, a young cook trying to make the best of a beautiful, yet sometimes harsh world. When I'm not trying to learn something new such as knitting, screen printing, or how to prepare a different cuisine, I like to spend my time hearing people's stories and relaxing with good company.
Recent Posts by Blake Belleman
Small Business Spotlight: Sullivan’s Pin-ups
“We didn’t invent the pinup photography thing,” Bonnie says. “Our services aren’t necessarily unique to us, but the experience is.” Both Sullivans participate in every shoot to get a collection of the best shots possible, a personal touch you’re unlikely to find elsewhere: “male eye” vs “female eye.” That eye for a client’s most flattering angles has garnered them a devout national fan base, despite their lack of professional training. “Women always want to feel gorgeous and have a chance to be in the spotlight for even a day, which is the experience offered in our studio.”
Cooking with Blake: Aioli
There are two times of the year when we seek to test our culinary mettle against friends and family: the winter holiday and grilling season. While we resort to time-honored family recipes in the winter, summer favors variety and experimentation, often in the form of handheld meals that cry out for a little something extra . . . perhaps a little hidden moisture that pushes the dish into mouth-watering territory. Forget the mayo, reach for the aioli.
Small Business Spotlight: Gosh Yarn It! A store that does your grandmother proud
What I love about the shop is that it carries yarn at any price point I, or anyone else, could want. Their selection ranges from the durable and low-cost to the luxurious and dear. I asked Schwartz why carry cashmere and baby alpaca yarn when she could have a larger inventory of cheaper goods and she replied, “If you’re putting that much time into something, don’t you want it to be high quality? Don’t you want it to be worthy?” She has a point. If I am putting twenty hours of knitting into a gift (something I have done!) I want the recipient to treasure it, not only for the time invested, but also because it is a beautiful item that they are proud to adorn themselves with.
Cooking with Blake: Making roasted potatoes perfect every time
Everyone is impressed when you can pull off a grand meal or serve that fancy dish you saw on television, but something that people will always talk about no matter how simple or elegant the dish is how well you can cook your starches. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve been disappointed with an otherwise great meal because the rice was gummy, the crust was soggy, or the potatoes were too hard or burned. Think about it; have you ever had a pie with a nice crackly crust and not remarked about it? Hopefully, I can set you on that path today.
Small Business Spotlight: Thirteen Olives
Opening in mid-May, Thirteen Olives will be the only olive oil and vinegar tasting room within almost 80 miles, and the exclusive purveyor of Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils in Northeastern Pennsylvania, all of which are available for tasting free of charge. Ultra Premium (UP) sounds great, but what does it mean for you? UP is a classification that excels above and beyond any other standard in the olive oil industry by focusing on the when, what, and how, rather than the where, a false marker of quality that mass retailers overemphasize. Furthermore, in order to sell UP oils, retailers must post information such as crush date, storage methods, and a slew of chemistry test results verifying that a particular batch of oil has as many health boosting compounds as are expected from such a lofty grade.
Woman’s World as reviewed by Blake Belleman
Graham Rawle’s Woman’s World, published in 2005, includes both written text and 40,000 woman’s magazine clippings from the early 1960s. It is one of the most engaging and fascinating books you may ever read. The author’s words illustrate the aggregated consciousness of the main character, Norma Fontaine, whose world is shaped exclusively through the women’s magazines that she reads. The clippings are extremely interesting and aesthetically pleasing, and the text adds an immersive quality that enriches the novel by accentuating Fontaine’s isolation and difficulty finding acceptance within her community.
Knives: the most important kitchen tool
Having a sharp, comfortable knife facilitates so many things for the cook. A sharp knife allows for more precise and uniform cutting, less fatigue from use, less risk to you since less force is used, and the most important benefit: less crying from onions. Most likely a result of maintaining my own knives and becoming accustomed to that standard, it now feels like I’m slicing with a brick whenever I visit a friend and get to enjoy whatever knife set was cheapest at the department store last decade. Here’s hoping we can change that.
The problem with child support payments
Child support is an interesting thing. Everyone agrees that it is a necessary expense. I have yet to meet anyone, man or woman, who legitimately believes that any child’s life would be better without it, yet almost everyone thinks the system isn’t working for them enough. Payors feel that they shell out too much while payees feel they do not receive enough, and yet they are completely unaccountable to the state or the payor they benefit from.
The price of spice: tips on how to lower spice prices
I have a confession. Despite my greatest efforts, like many of you, I, too have a habit of neglecting my spice rack until I go to reach for a familiar bottle — only to remember that it ran out the previous week — which leads me to the second worse aspect of running out of a spice: buying it. Take cinnamon sticks, for instance. I don’t think I have ever seen McCormick brand cinnamon sticks priced at anything less than one dollar a stick. However, here is one secret: go to the ethnic foods aisle.
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