|Same soup, a couple months ago.|
In a few weeks, Matt and I will be spending nine days in Louisville grading the essay portion of the AP Literature exam. We love the city--it's not too big, but still has things to do, and really good restaurants that we've come to like over the last few years. We go to Louisville at least a couple times a year because Matt's parents live in Ohio, and Louisville is just about the halfway point between there and Knoxville.
ETS, the testing agency that hires teachers to grade the AP tests, pays for much of the stay--the hotel and some lunches are covered. However, the lunches are often not suitable for vegans, and from what Matt tells me, if there is anything vegan, there's not much.
In the last couple of years, I've stayed behind at home and eaten raw for ten days or so; this year, I'm glad to have been accepted to be a grader. Because we're both going to be there, I want to be sure that we have food to take up with us. This is where our pressure canner comes into play: I'm planning to make and can a couple different soups, so we can take jars of soup with us--they won't need refrigeration, and a jar is just the perfect amount for lunch. Today I made the lentil soup that has been a favorite for the last few months. The batch made nine pints. I'm still getting the hang of the pressure canner (it's only the second time that I've used it), and it was a stressful couple hours to get the pressure canner ready, sealed properly, venting, and to the right pressure to can the soup. All the jars sealed incredibly well, and the Tattler lids are especially concave, indicating a very strong seal. Matt's going to try one of the jars of soup for his lunch tomorrow, but a good few or the others will be packed away and awaiting the trip north.
There have been a couple times that people have expressed surprise and dismay at the cost of our pressure canner; nonetheless (and despite having used it only twice so far), I think that it is more than a worthwhile investment--it will last us a lifetime, and it will be so useful! I love that I am able to can soups with it, and to have those jars in reserve for when we need them. Yes, it takes a good bit of extra time to plan ahead, but to me it is worth it. I think many people forfeit such things in favor of spending money on other things, or sticking to convenience--after all, it's much easier to buy soup in cans; but good quality and organic (vegan) soup is expensive (whereas the soup that I made today cost at most seven dollars or so). The main issue, too, is time. Xan expressed it best in a recent blog post, "When I tell people about this [in my case, canning], the near-universal response is awestruck (sometimes patronizing) admiration, followed by the statement 'where do you find the time' or 'well, that's great, but I don't have time for that.'" There is always time if people want to make time for things; I know that I'm mostly unemployed for the summer, but last summer, when I was working a shit job full-time, I still found time to can almost every other day in July and August. And speaking of (mostly) not being employed over the summer--it was a choice on my part because I knew that I could trade a few months' income for the ability to be at home and to have the full summer season to volunteer at Beardsley and other farms, and to be canning. It's a different way to make provisions, not using money, but using skills and connections.