A “To Do List” is something that is supposed to get smaller as the day goes on, not bigger, right? Well, if this is the case, I am doing something terribly wrong.
This morning, I started out with a To Do List with 24 things on it. Throughout the day I proudly marked off six or seven of these tasks, and yet at the end of the day, I now have 28 things still to do. How does this happen?
What I really like to do is add things to my To Do List as the day goes on, that I’ve actually completed that were not already on the list. This really makes me feel like I’m making progress. Unfortunately, for some reason all those other tasks that were on the list from the start, never seem to earn that ceremonious crossing-off. Yep, I can see all the things I’ve done, but this is overshadowed by all the things I haven’t done. They sit there, staring up at me, laughing at me, mocking me, reminding me that there is STILL so much to do.
One task that was not on my To Do List that I did today took up about an hour and a half of my day, and I do have to say it was time well spent. Yesterday I answered an ad on Craig’s List that offered canning jars for $3 and $4 a dozen. I jumped all over it, sending out an email the moment I saw it. This morning I got a response, and by 9:30 I was on the road to pick up 22 dozen quart, pint, half-gallon, 8 oz. and 12 oz. jars. These could not have come at a better time, as I have been steadily depleting the stockpile of jars I collected throughout last winter and spring.
You’d think that 22 dozen was enough, but tomorrow I am heading to a garage sale that boasts “250 jars – Priced to go – Cheap.” What they consider cheap and what I consider cheap might not be the same thing, but after I drop Grace off at work tomorrow, it’s only about a 10 minute drive to the sale. At this point, with my stockpile somewhat replenished, I won’t pay more than $3 a dozen, regardless of size. The only factor that might make me consider $4 a dozen would be if they came with the bands. That is the one thing I am definitely running short of.
I have been removing the bands from all my canned goods and reusing them because I don’t have any to spare. Thankfully I learned this trick a few years ago. As long as the bottle is sealed, the band is not necessary. It’s main purpose is to hold the lid in place while it seals. Once sealed, the band can be removed and the lid should stay secure. I do check my lids every couple of weeks to make sure nothing has come undone, but so far I have not run into any problems (knock on wood!).
Although something not on my “Daily” To Do List, I did complete something on my “Canning” To Do List today as I was making dinner (yes, I wrote “make dinner” on my To Do List after I made it). Finding a recipe for sweet and sour pork or chicken that tasted like carry-out Chinese sweet and sour has been something I have been working on for years. Finally, last fall, after combining several recipes, tweaking the ingredients a bit, and vowing it was my very last time ever trying, I did it. At least I think so and so does hubby and the kids.
With the recipe part done, my next task was to see if there were some way to simplify making this somewhat labor-intensive meal. What did I come up with? Well, canning of course. I’m not much on canning meat, but canning the sweet and sour sauce so I wouldn’t have to spend an additional 35 to 40 minutes mixing, cooking, and reducing over a hot stove, sounded like a great idea. So that’s exactly what I did and here is the recipe.
Sweet & Sour Sauce
2 1/2 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Ketchup
5 Cups Water
1 1/4 tsp. Canning Salt
3 3/4 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
4 Cups Pineapple Juice
5 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 1/3 Cup Water
5 Onions, cut into wedges
2 Green Peppers, cut into 1“ square pieces
2 Red Peppers, cut into 1“ square pieces
3-4 Tbsp. Peanut Oil
Heat peanut oil in wok or stock pot to medium-high. Add onion and peppers and cook until crisp-tender.
Remove from heat and wipe out remaining oil.
Combine remaining ingredients in pan and bring to boil. Add onions and peppers.
Boil hard for one minute.
Ladle sauce into jars, place lids and bands on jars, and process in water bath for 30 minutes.
To use: Prepare pork or chicken to your preference. I like them breaded or not, it depends on how much time I have. Once the meat is cooked through, pour one to two jars of sauce over meat and bring to boil. The longer you cook it, the thicker the sauce becomes. Serve over rice.
I love canning jams, jellies, spreads, syrups, concentrates, and pie filling, but there is something to be said for canning something that will make putting dinner on the table quick and easy when time runs out — like it usually does. Sweet and Sour Sauce is now going to be a staple in the pantry, ready to use when my To Do List keeps growing exponentially, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.