Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things in jars.

No, not jam. Other things.

It's a weird summer this year. I mean, hooray, my big trip. But since I've been home I've been feeling very much like a hermit, like going out of my house to see anyone or do anything exceeds my energy level. Or maybe my emotional strength? I'm good hanging with my kids--I love that--but I've been laying pretty low. Working at home, being at home. Not leaving much or going far. I don't really know what it's about.

Change, maybe? Addie starts junior high in a few weeks and I have this feeling that once she does, she'll be heading off to college in five minutes. It pains me to think about how fast she's already grown. And I'm going part time at work this year. This is good. But I think maybe the idea of my kids being in two different schools and myself being in a new situation is just making me want to dig in my feet. To stand still, even if just for a second.

This, also: I felt really low this week for two days... sore all over, tired, cranky. And then I got a migraine that took two more days to go away. I should know better by now to read the signs, but I didn't see it coming. (I kept telling E I thought I was getting sick.) So I'm sure migraine-me contributed to Operation Hermit Crab a little bit.

So let's talk about putting things in jars. Because I've had too much time on my hands. There's really no good reason for this behavior. I mean, I could blame the fact that I've been watching a lot of Ina Garten lately, but Ina hasn't put anything into a mason jar that I've seen. I think her nervous laughter, the "how easy is that"-s, and the bright, shining kitchen are making me invent kitchen projects.

But no jam. Because it's hot as heck, and I'm not trying to sweat it out and make a big sticky mess (there's a great essay on the Paris Review Blog about making jam, though, and it makes me think that yes, I will go there again someday). Not now.

My culinary efforts lately have been other protective measures (imaginary, maybe?) against the imminent approach of the school year. Black feathers to my Dumbo anxiety. They feel like things I can do to get myself ready for Super Mom/Teacher Time. I went down the rabbit hole of Pinteresty ways to make lunches ahead (read: not every single morning when the kids go to school because that always ends in angry peanut butter messes). I started making sandwiches and freezing them. I made 48 granola bars, wrapped them, and froze those too.

And I started putting things in jars. Testing recipes. I am not going to torture you with a picture of the first thing I made, Overnight Oats. Because it looked as bad as it tasted. Who is eating this crap? It wasn't fit for human consumption. I love me some oatmeal, but I am 100% unconvinced why anyone in their right mind wants to eat that sick paste. Don't comment and try to change my mind, either. Overnight Oats are dead to me.

Anyway, the things that worked:

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Layered salads in jam jars.

Hey. I admit that I've been seeing this on Pinterest for a thousand years and I didn't get it. I thought people just did it because they thought it looked cute or something. (Aside: I'm cool with jars being functional to hold our foods, but let's stop fetishizing them, huh? You don't really have to drink your vodka out of a mason jar sippy cup.) But you can make salad in there and it will last five days. Here's a post that has more info, if you want it.

You basically go: dressing, hard veggies, softer veggies, cheese, greens, paper towel, lid.

Boom. And then you have a healthy lunch for five days. Put some protein on it. Or put it on the side of your dinner. It's your disco, Stu.

This other one is kind of silly. It's the laziest thing I've ever made.

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I saw this post on Smitten Kitchen about easy refrigerator pickles. And I made it even easier because I didn't really measure anything I put in the jar. Basically I just filled it up about halfway with some kind of vinegar (white or rice wine are favorites), add 1ish tsp of salt, a pinch of dill, and whatever else you feel like. What I feel like lately is a clove of garlic. Mmm, pungent. The liquid only fills the jar about halfway, but if you shake it and turn it upside down a few times over a day or so, eventually the water is drawn out of the cukes and into the brine.

I think any cucumbers would work (peppers, etc too), but so far I like Armenian cucumbers the best. (The ones in the picture are just regular ol' grocery store cukes... have to get the good ones at the farmers' market since my garden is terrible this year). I've made three different jars and they're all good eatin'. We all know that pickles are just a vinegar and salt delivery device.

So there you go. A post on how to keep yourself busy when you have lots of time but threemany feelings. And you don't want to leave your house.

Jars.

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