Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Instructions"

Instructions on how to live a simple life (even in the city):

Today V's pie baking inspired me to can vegetables. We took turns in the kitchen until the house filled with so many autumnal smells that we had no choice but to take a break from our endeavors to enjoy a warm dinner.

I suppose it's possible that I'm one of the last people from my generation that still know how to can. And, to be honest, I don't even know why I do it except that I'm a glutton for doing things the hard way and an even bigger glutton for filling jars with color and an even bigger glutton for dilly beans! (spicy pickled string beans). I love opening up a jar in the deep, dark, middle-of-winter and knowing that it came from a real garden tended to and cared for by real hands. Sometimes those hands are my own, sometimes they are my grandma's, sometimes they are both.

This evening I read a poem by the Zen poet, Ryokan. It goes like this:
Without desire everything is sufficient.
With seeking myriad things are impoverished.

Plain vegetables can soothe hunger.

A patched robe is enough to cover this bent old body.

Alone I hike with deer.
Cheerfully I sing with village children.

The stream under the cliff cleanses my ears.

The pine on the mountain top fits my heart.

Then I came across words by Dogen that said:
When preparing vegetables or soup, don't worry--just prepare them with sincerity. Most of all, try to avoid getting upset or complaining about the quantity or quality of the food. Practice in such a way that things come and abide in your mind, and your mind returns and abides in things, all through the day and night.

And, finally, I stumbled across the most simplistic advice of all:
When you boil rice, know that the water is your own life.

And so it is with canning vegetables. Or walking the dog. Or building a fire. Or making tea. Or crossing the road. Or brushing my teeth. Or even eating pie. It's about simplicity....and the many ways of getting there...because it is these small moments that I give my heart to.

Dilly Beans
  • Approx. 2 lbs. green beans
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, divided (I put lots more and even add other peppers if I have them)
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided (again, I like more)
  • 4 heads dill, divided

Trim ends off green beans. Combine salt, vinegar, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil. Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill to each pint (double this if using quart jars). Ladle hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Makes: about 4 pints or 2 quarts.
Let sit for 1 month before devouring them!

more instructions here.


Anonymous said...

i feel such a connection to you i can't even put it into words...

Anonymous said...

I adored this's so quiet and well, fall-like, it feeds me.

Email on the way, btw.

Patry Francis said...

what a wonderful post. I had to copy the quote about the water in the rice pot into my notebook. Thank you for being here.

Maggie said...

your new template is simply divine. as a closeted wanna-be soccer mom/june cleaver (with a large helping of education and a whole lot of important ideas/dreams/desires/ambitions), i am dying to learn how to can. your life sounds so romantic and wonderful!

Amber said...

I really loved this post! Maybe because I was a little hippie kid, and the whole "Simplicity" thing is in my bones. ha!

When I was little, I had a foster mom who use to can. And she use to make these Red Hot Pickles. She would can cucumbers with red hot candies, and they were SO good!


swampgrrl said...

I can't tell you how much I love Dilly
Beans and how NO idea how they were made.
I've been eating them ferociously with every Bloody Mary I've consumed in my years down in New Orleans.

I so so so excited by your post that I am actually using Caps and exclamation points

thank you, grrl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tammy said...

I soooo want a piece of that beautiful pie!!!! I'm truly impressed by the fact you rock! xxoo

Verity said...

I love this post, reading it was like taking a deep deep breath - zen poetry, a recipe and a yummy pie, what else could anyone want?!

kj said...

bulls eye wisdom from jessie.

perfect for the season, perfect for the fall.

i feel as ruby does.

kj said...

ps jessie, i've been thinking about your recent travelin' post.
i think it takes a year or so to let new roots set in in a new place. in the meantime, the ground below shifts from time to time.

you and v. will know in time if the commute piece is workable.....

deirdre said...

I'm starting to get into canning again. I grew up on home canned fruit and vegies, but haven't done it more than a few times since leaving home. This year there are pints of applesauce in the pantry and peaches ripening on the table that will become jam this week. It's true, there is a zen quality to the simplicity and wholesomeness of canning. I hope this skill won't be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

While I haven't canned in ages, and was hoping to this fall (before the move), I grew up on homemade dill pickles and canned tomatoes and corn. And I miss it for certain. Soon, I just know it.

But at least I get to be in charge of pie for Thanksgiving this year ... Oy!

And I'm going to go find that book ... "Eat, Pray, Love" ... I just finished "A Three Dog Life." Tough, but so worth the reading. I loved it.

Here's to the simplicity we create in our own lives!

Jamie said...

I enjoyed every word in this post, how it felt like fall and like home, how it felt simple but profound, how it seemed delicious.

I haven't participated in canning since I was a girl and helped my mom. But the name "dilly beans" alone inspires me to try!

sophie said...

I just am thrilled to try making

My fave pie is lemon meringue-
with a real tingle to it -

do you have a great recipe for
asparagus pickled or

cheery inspiring smiley post:)

Colorsonmymind said...

So lovely. The post , the pie the canning the poetry.

Simplicity at it's best.


commongal said...

How very restful. I get a similar restfulness from walking through the Green Market when I can. My hands don't cooperate easily with jars and jar tops, but I love buying food that is fresh from a small farm from a farmer I can talk to. They say that small farms are becoming practical again as it becomes more and more expensive and detrimental to depend on the global economy. So, here's to you and your garden!