Monday, November 17, 2014

The Over-Ambitous Mother and The Great Chili Calamity of 2014

I had such big plans.

I have been wanting to change how I do things and do more make-ahead-cooking.

My eldest had been begging me to make my chili for weeks.

I would try my hand at pressure caning chili for the first time. I romanticized the idea of not knowing what to cook for dinner some night in the future. Then remembering, "Oh yes, I have 21 quarts of beautifully canned chili in my pantry-- ready at a moments notice!"

I had ordered a large amount of natural ground beef through the local food co-op, began soaking several pounds of dried beans the day the meat was expected to arrive, and went to the store to buy the rest of the ingredients. Thankfully the many green peppers needed were on sale.

After chopping peppers, garlic, jalapenos and crying over the chopped up onions for an hour it was ready to assemble.

The pot I choose was too small. Out came the giant canning pot, it needed to be washed.

The first batch was in, but it was already later than I wanted it to be, by this rate I would be canning all night. I had this wonderful idea; I would get out the second canner that was a double decker. It too needed a good cleaning.

I didn't have enough jars. More came out of storage, they had to be scrubbed.

I found out upon trying to load it that the double decker canner was not double decker for quarts. Well, it was out and clean at least I could get two batches done at once.

Wrong. After waiting for 40 minutes for it to build up pressure it never did, something was wrong with the gauge. The first seven came out of the other and didn't look good, they had lost a lot of liquid. I did not have a good feeling. It was near midnight when I was able to put the second set of seven jars in.

I had seven jars left to be processed, there was no way I could do the third batch that night. I needed to keep the chili warm over night. The crock pot was already out, it was still full of tapioca from an earlier cooking adventure that day.  That   too   needed  cleaning.

The seven last jars of chili were emptied into the crock pot, and I went to bed with the timer close by. Close to 2am I got up to finish dealing with that second batch.

Imagine the disappointment in the morning when upon testing jar after jar not one out of fourteen had sealed. This had never happened to me! I wanted to cry.  The kitchen was filled with pots, canners, jars and chili-- Cursed Chili! Why, oh why do I always have to make everything into such a big project?
But I couldn't cry, it was too much. I just had to laugh and laugh at myself.

All of 14 jars got emptied into a pot then bagged into freezer bags.
And then I had to find room in the freezer...
I surely learned a lot! I learned; I need to read directions more carefully, make smaller batches when trying something new, and not to start any crazy projects at 6 o'clock at night.

 Today I canned up the last of that chili I was keeping warm in the crock pot. Why? because I am just little bit crazy and stubborn, and a lot determined to win.

I think they are sealed.

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