Since the beginning of time, acquiring, harvesting and preserving one's own food had been essential to one's survival. The process took on many methods including salting, brining, drying and the use of different variations of seasonal and cold storage. In 1858, the invention of the home canning jar by tinsmith John Landis Mason (who invented a machine that could cut threads into lids, which made it possible to make a jar with a reusable, screw-on lid) took the art of the preservation of food to a new level.
Farmers, pioneers, settlers and even urban families quickly adopted this 'mason jar' method of preserving food. The popular transparent storage container was ideal for readily identifying its contents and for the proper monitoring of the preservation process to ensure food safety.
In fact, home canning spiked during the World War II years, with Americans buying more than three million jars.
Yet, sadly, during the 1950's the popularity of mass food production in tin cans and plastic containers along with the invention of the home freezer as an alternative preserving method and the migration of people into urban centers caused the decline of the home preservation of food using mason jars, or more pointed, as a necessity to survival.
Alas, in less than a century, the beautiful mason jar's hardcore, purposeful life was over.
Nowadays, there are still a number of believers whom still preserve their home grown produce and flavours using the mason jar method - and why shouldn't they? A mason jar full of fruit, jam, pickles or relish is visually appealing, customized to one's particular taste and healthy in ensuring that one knows exactly what is in the jar they are eating.
The mason jar has also found other uses as excellent alternatives to modern storage systems, and still, the romantic, organic symbolism - possibly, the representation of a more simple time - of the old vintage jars combined with the sheer purpose of the physical design makes for great arts and crafts and has influenced many designers in their modern home and restaurant decor.
This is the easiest, most economical and most hearty meal anyone can make. You can be creative and add a variety of spices, vegetables, grains and meats to this dish, but the following recipe is the most basic of stew recipes.
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup each corn and peas
1 large steak, or favorite cut of beef for stewing.
3 cups beef broth
1/2 - 1 cup water to cover
1/2 cup cream
Wash celery. Peel potatoes, onion and carrots. Brown beef.
Cut beef, celery, carrots, potatoes and onion into large chunks and place in large pot. Add in 1/2 cup peas and 1/2 cup corn.
Pour in broth, then water just to cover beef and vegetables. Bring to boil then simmer on med low heat until vegetables are soft and stew has slightly thickened.
Bring down to low simmer, mix in cream just to heat.
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
Stir dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Rub or cut in butter. Add milk to make a soft dough ( use more milk if necessary ). Drop by heaping spoonfuls into boiling stew. Cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes.
2 cups white sugar
1 - 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
(If you don't have buttermilk, substitute 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar)
1 cup cold coffee
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together well. Add in remaining wet ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool then ice.
Also makes 24 cupcakes.
Orange Butter Icing
grated peel of one orange
4 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 cups icing sugar - depending on desired stiffness
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat together zest, juices, butter and egg until creamy. Beat in icing a cup at a time until desired consistency. Beat in vanilla. Frost cooled cake or cupcakes.
Grandma taught me how to make pie crust one afternoon many years ago. Her recipe is almost identical to one that I found from the 1830's in a book dedicated to American pioneer village recipes - or receipts - as they called them back then. Her simple recipe is also now called "Old Time Pastry" in modern cookbooks.
1 cup Crisco (lard, I use Tenderflake)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-8 tablespoons cold water
In large mixing bowl, cut lard in with flour (Grandma used her hands to 'rub' the lard in with the flour, as I still do) until well blended. Mix in salt. Slowly add water until dough forms a soft ball. Adjust amount of water until desired consistency - in other words, sometimes you'll need a little more or less. Place on floured surface and roll out large enough to cover pie plate with a little hangover. Trim for open pie or repeat to make top layer.
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
pinch of salt
Finely grate or peel the zest of 4 lemons.
Extract juice from lemons to equal 1 cup of fresh lemon juice (depending on size about 4 medium lemons)
Pour the lemon juice, sugar and 2 cups of water into large saucepan. Bring to a light boil and continue cooking until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and salt to taste.
Cool, store syrup in mason jars in refrigerator.
By the glass: In a large glass pour 1/4 cup lemonade syrup, add 1 cup cold water and ice. Garnish with lemon wedge or sprig of mint. Also see variations below.
By the pitcher: Depending on the size of the pitcher, begin with 2 cups syrup to 4 cups water and lots of ice. Adjust to taste. Garnish with slices of lemon or lime, sprigs of mint or lemon thyme. See variations.
Add frozen saskatoons, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or your favorite fruit.
Substitute commercial lemonade for a portion of the added water. The added citric acid gives the lemonade a nice kick.
Add green tea to make green tea lemonade.
"We live in a world where lemonade is made from artificial flavoring and furniture polish is made from real lemons." - Mad Magazine
apples (tart) 4 lbs
granulated sugar 2 cups
fresh lemon juice 4 tbsp
cinnamon 1 tsp
Remove stems from apples. Quarter. Place everything (core, seeds, peeling included) into pot. Add sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir and let stand until apples release juice. Cover, heat slowly and bring to a boil. Cook gently on steady (not high) heat until apples are soft. Press through a food mill into a large pot on top of stove on low-med heat stirring often until desired thickness and consistency. Pour into hot sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch form top and seal. Makes about 4 half pints.