Slow Food = Feeling like you Have More time?

by Sandy L on October 27, 2010

Red Currants From Babci's Garden

Currant Yield

Canning Supplies

One of the annual events that I started once Babci moved to my town is making red current jelly. It is truly a team effort and it reminds me of the old barn raising days where the community gets together to help each other.

A Great Sense of Community

Every year, my mom grows a bumper crop of currants. She has about 8 bushes and each bush has loads of tiny berries on it. If 1 person were to try to pick them all, it would probably take 2 full days to do it.  So when it’s time to pick, I call up all my friends and they’re kids and we go currant picking in babci’s yard. In 2 hours, the bushes are picked clean, people can take what they want and babci cooks a big polish meal for anyone who wants it.

Most people who’ve tried to clean the berries and make they’re own jelly have realized it just takes too much time, so they leave the bounty for us and collect a can or two of jelly later.  Babci spends about another day washing and sorting the berries. They grow like little tiny grape vines, so she separates all the stems and reject berries and it usually yields a batch about the size of those 3 pots shown.  This year we had a late frost so we only had about 1/3 of what we usually do.  Unfortunately there is just as much picking, but there were way more rejects.

Canning

This summer, it was just way too hot and I was way too busy to do my canning until this past weekend. These berries freeze perfectly, so I waited until it was nice and cold outside before I had all the burners going on the stove.  I’m definitely a clean freak when it comes to canning, so after dinner on Sat night, I sterilized the whole kitchen with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and at 4am on Sunday, I got to canning. It took about 8 hours from start to finish before I had everything done and I’m very happy with the results.  I made about a case of currant and 1.5 cases of seedless raspberry/currant jelly.

Slow Food

You know, there’s something about cooking food from scratch that makes me feel more sane. My husband totally doesn’t get why I would spend 8 hours on a weekend making jam when our lives are so packed as it is.  First, I’m not wired to sit around, but second, giving myself the luxury of doing something that’s time consuming gives me the illusion that I do have time to spare. If I can spend a day canning, then life’s not so bad after all.  Plus, I don’t want to wait til I’m retired to do all this stuff.  I am convinced that you can make time for the things that are important in your life. If you really want to do something but don’t have time, ask yourself if it’s a priority or if lack of time is just an excuse to not do it.  (Exercising comes to mind.)

My kids love to cook with me too, so I usually get to kill 2 birds with one stone. This year they were still sleeping during my canning madness, but usually my son loves the mashing the berries step.

Questions:

Does doing something that takes a long time make you feel more busy or less busy? For me, it does help me slow down and relax. Committing myself to several hours to one task forces me to stop rushing around. Try it sometime and see if it’s the same for you.

Do you foster a sense of community in your neighborhood? Part of the reason I love the Berkshires so much is that people are willing to help each other.  It just makes me want to do more and more of it.

Does anyone want a can of red currant jelly? I’m thinking of doing my first giveaway tomorrow. You think folks would want a little piece of Babci?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

eemusings October 26, 2010 at 8:12 PM

That’s a really good question. I’ve been spending a lot more time in the kitchen lately (would be curious to know how many hours others spend cooking in a week, actually) and sometimes it IS overwhelming…baking, prepping dinners, cooking up lunches for the week ahead. (Sandwiches aren’t really my thing). But in a way, it IS relaxing. A little oasis of calm.

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Sandy L October 27, 2010 at 2:51 AM

Since I travel a lot for work, my cooking time varies quite a bit. If my schedule is more normal, I cook easy stuff during the week (<1 hour to prepare) and then do at least one complex thing on the weekend. Last weekend was jam, the weekend before was sauce and a triple batch of eggplant parm.

We also usually go to Babci’s with the kids 1day/week for chicken soup.

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Nicole October 27, 2010 at 8:30 AM

ack, captcha thing ate my comment. :(

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Everyday Tips October 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM

I want to come to Babci’s and pick berries next year!

I love spending a day cooking. It is just a great feeling- like I am providing for everyone. Cooking in the fall is so rewarding. I love throwing a bunch of things in the crockpot and smelling it cook all day.

I have spent days making salsa, and I really enjoyed it!

I will sign up for your giveaway for sure!

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Crystal October 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM

If I am at home, I feel like I need to be doing a million things at once. BUT, if I leave my house, all of the sudden, all that stress goes away and I just concentrate on whatever I was leaving to do. You’d think this would make me hate my house, but no. I just enjoy my time away from it and start getting things done when I get home with a fresh burst of energy. If there is just too much on my plate, I whine a lot but handle it and cheer up…

I’ve never had red currant’s that I know of (I grew up with blueberry and blackberry bushes) so I’d love a chance to win some jam!

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Sandy L October 27, 2010 at 7:05 PM

Everyday Tips – I will never turn away free crop pickers but it’s a bit of a haul from Mo-town. My goal is usually to do one slow food per weekend (and make extra and freeze some). I’ve never made salsa that wasn’t fresh. How’d it come out?

Crystal – I feel that about vacation time. IF I want to really relax, I have to go away..far away, otherwise I want to be pulling weeds or painting or something. My staycations are exhausting.

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Money Reasons October 27, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Hmm, I’ve never picked currants before (although I have picked rasberries and stawberries).

My cooking skills go about as far as a poptart and not much further…

But I do find skimming a pool of bugs with a skimmer very relaxing. Part of the enjoyment is knowing that when I’m done, my kids can go swimming (their grandparents have a small pool). When I’m skimming and the sun is embrassing me as I work, it’s a great feeling all around! Actually, visiting my parent’s grandparents is very soothing in itself… they are good people!

Surprisingly, my kids don’t like jelly or jam.

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Nicole October 28, 2010 at 8:04 AM

Take 2: When work is going poorly for DH he likes to cook slow food or fix things because it gives him a sense of accomplishment he’s lacking from work.

For me, if I get just the right level of stress, I find making bread to be very calming.

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Lindy Mint October 28, 2010 at 9:32 AM

I haven’t thought about the fact that long, slow processes can make you feel like you have extra time in your life, but I can see that.

I tend to avoid the kitchen in my spare time, but I always enjoy the morning of Thanksgiving when I get to stand in my quiet kitchen and make home-made stuffing.

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Practical Parsimony October 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

I love to cook and love being in the kitchen. But, since there is only me, I don’t love cooking regularly. What I do love is cooking lots of slow food for future meal. About 99% of my cooking is from scratch. One day, I baked enough meat and sweet potatoes in the oven, all at the same time, for 24 meals (think that is right). Then, there was the process of cooling the hens I baked until I could handle it. Once all this bounty was in the freezer, there lay the long task of cleaning the kitchen. However, for weeks my only kitchen use was thawing and microwaving dinners and making a few other dishes to round out my lunches and dinners. This was all relaxing even though I knew ahead of time it would take me the better part of the day from beginning to end. Yes, I would enter your contest for currant jelly. I have never had any. I’m so glad I found your blog! Thanks for the comment on mine.

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Everyday Tips October 28, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Fresh salsa is the best!!! You should try it!

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Sandy L October 28, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Money Reasons – Yeah I really like bringing my kids over Babci’s on a regular basis. I hope they remember her garden and her good cooking and the strange smells. I’m sure your kids will remember the pool and going to the grandparents as a special treat instead of a chore.

Grumpy – interesting, when I need a feeling of accomplishment, I tend to clean, not cook. Cooking though does make me feel like my life’s a whole lot simpler. It brings life back to basics.

Lindy – I guess cooking wouldn’t be calming for people who hate it.

Ms Parsimony – I found you through Molly on Money. I tend to have chicken envy, so I’m drawn to people with chickens. I love when my freezer is stocked. I have a bunch of batch cooking items I like to make.

ET – I love fresh salsa..I meant I have never had homemade canned salsa. I’m wondering if it loses it’s fresh flavor by cooking it.

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Meg October 30, 2010 at 3:27 PM

I am envious!
I planted 28 tomato plants in hopes to can sauce & salsa. We ended up with just 2 bushels, and I ended up with two large pots of sauce that didnt turn out very well. I got cold-feet and got scared to can! All that work and I ended up freezing it all. :-)

Maybe next year, right?

And that sugar! Oh my goodness!

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Sandy L October 30, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Meg, My first two years canning, I definitely had some issues and had some duds. Let’s just say one year I made a whole lot of currant pancake syrup instead of jelly. Practice makes perfect.

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