Thursday, August 20, 2015

Checking Off the List

  • New principal 
  • New vice-principal
  • Eleven new teachers in our building
  • Three of them are long-term subs
A new school year is beginning when the students arrive on Monday. We teachers have been plugging away at it for several days now. We were officially on the clock Wednesday, but many of us have been showing up for a few hours for the week before that. It's always nicest to work on putting your room back together when no one can call you into a meeting!

Some of our new people seem terrified. I don't blame them! They have been plunked down into a whirlwind. If you've never taught before, it doesn't matter if you're a college graduate, this job is quite involved. I helped a couple of them put up bulletin board backgrounds because I have a lot of practice at that. I've been showing them what schedules they can use, and what should go into the parent letter for the first day, and anything else I think they'd need.

As a result...I'm not ready! My room is superficially prepared. I can welcome families at Open-House tomorrow afternoon. But I'll be over there on Saturday, labeling, and putting out books, and reorganizing my shelves, and any manner of jobs I didn't get to yet. Yikes!  If I feel under this pressure, I can hardly imagine how these new folks feel. (Actually, I can imagine, and it isn't a good memory.)

So, I'll be there bright and early tomorrow to get some things done before the meetings, round 2, begin. Then, I'll wolf down lunch and get back into my classroom so that it will look spic and span for the 2015-2016 fourth graders and their parents!  I'm getting excited again!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yes, You Should Rotate Your Food Storage...

It was time to put away the yummy peaches. I washed the jars carefully in some warm, soapy water (they come out of the canning kettle sticky), and set them on a towel to dry. Then, I went to my really nice pantry closet, renovated by CoolGuy when we first moved into this house. He took the "coat" closet in the front entry and added some great corner shelves in part of it. After all, coats are not a big priority here in the desert. I have a few, but I don't use them too often. So, I have a place for jackets, and the ironing board, but I also have some deep shelves that I can use as a pantry, since our kitchen cupboard space is quite limited.

Well, I had to rearrange things in there, as I haven't done so for quite a while. I pulled everything out and in the process, I picked up a can of tomato soup that...rattled. Yes, it was very light and, when I gave it a shake, it rattled. (I've watched too much T.V. --my first reaction was that I'd gotten someone's diamond necklace in a soup can by mistake.) Then, I noticed that the bottom had a little stain on it.

Next, I checked the "best used by" date. Ooh. July 2005. Eeeew. In side the can, I found the most extreme version of "condensed" soup ever to be found in a can.

It is very light weight, totally devoid of any moisture what-so-ever. Hmmm...I found one more can of tomato soup that was also purchased the year I moved to Las Vegas. It went into the trash. I didn't even want to look inside. It was still "liquid" and sealed up tightly. But, I don't want to know anymore about it. The can that contained the little rock of tomato soup has a teeny hole in the bottom. I cleaned a small, dark circle of dried tomato off the shelf where it had sat, for a very, very, long time.

Then, I looked over every other food container in the pantry closet, and reorganized it according to "best used by" dates so that no other cans of food will sit unnoticed for 10 years. My peaches are in their own section. They're harder to overlook, so I'm not worried that I'll leave a bottle untouched for ten years. Heh...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Treasure

I came back to Nevada with two boxes of peaches on Monday, this week. My daughter had pointed out that peaches were now available, and she was thinking of canning some on the weekend. So, since we LOVE home canned peaches, I stopped off and bought some to bring back home. I'd been in Utah for an organ workshop at BYU.

There is nothing so yummy as home canned peaches. Seriously. CoolGuy and I are both huge fans. I used the last bottle of my previous effort a few months ago, so we needed to be resupplied. However, it has been a couple of years since I've gone through this process. I actually had to look at a YouTube video just to refresh my memory of all the steps.

Here's what I started with. They were fantastic peaches--every one of them was huge and perfect and sweet. We'd already eaten some with sugar and cream the night before. Whenever I found a little spot that was a bit over-ripe, I'd just cut it off and plop it into my mouth, while I prepared them for the bottles.

 I'd been to my school earlier that morning for a Meet & Greet with our new principal and vice-principal. When someone asked if I planned to stay and work in my room, I told them that I needed to go home and bottle peaches. It was a foreign concept to the younger ones. I tried to explain, but, seriously, they looked at me like I was a space alien--or Laura Ingalls Wilder. Did people really do that still today??  So, I made four pint jars of peaches to take over there and give to them for a taste, so they can see why it is worth all the work.

It IS a lot of work, too, seriously. It took all day. I was quite exhausted at the end. However, a few laps in the pool, and a later soak in the hot tub, and today, I'm feeling fine. Plus! Peaches in bottles!!

Isn't this adorable? I found it in the box and it just totally represents the awesomeness of peaches.

After dipping them in boiling water for about a half-minute, you transfer them to ice water. Then the peels just slide right off. Cut them in half, remove the pit, and slice them into a bowl with a solution of ascorbic acid (Fruit Fresh) so they won't brown. Then, scoop them into the jars. The jars are warm from the dishwasher, where I sterilized them. Add the simple syrup that boiled on the stove, wipe the edges of the top clean. Place the warmed lids on top, screw on the rings.

I always cook on the campstove because when I first bought this canning kettle, I realized it was too big for my stove. I'm not sure why I've never replaced it with a smaller one...However, it is a bonus to cook outside, because then I don't heat up my kitchen. Yes, I need to add more water to this so it covers the jars. 

After they've cooked, I set them first on the outside table to cool down a little and dry off, and then I brought them in to my kitchen to finish the cool down. It helped them to be outside for a while, I realized, because there is a huge difference in temperature between the pot and my kitchen. I avoided breakage that way. 

Don't they look fabulous?? I feel like I'm rich because now I have almost two dozen jars of yummy peaches to savor all year. Next summer, I'll definitely get more and keep my supply steady. Maybe I'll do pears, too. Or cherries...yummmmm.