grassy food: can-a-rama and bite of eugene

This weekend is Can-A-Rama, a grass roots educational event to teach canning in kitchens across America created by the collective preservation blog Canning Across America.  Join in!  Those raspberries aren’t going to jam themselves, you know.  And your meatballs are waiting patiently.

I did my canning last night at a pressure canning class, one of the last offered by the Lane County Extension Master Food Preservers before the program ends on September 2.  The action shot above is a pressure canner pressurizing (see the jiggling weight on the side of the canner?).  Oh yeah. Work it baby!

The class was packed full of appreciative community members, and it was heartwarming to feel the love.

And there they are, viewed through my nopales lens from the stage at Extension.

I don’t pressure can frequently, but I can (and did) teach the basics, so I think I learned as much as anyone else from the veteran canners who showed us how to can things like the aforementioned nopales, chicken on the bone, and meatballs.  Watching Donna Crosiar bone a chicken, by the way, is one of the beautiful things in life.

Pressure canning is kind of miraculous.  I call it “How To Can Anything.”  Because seriously, you can stick just about anything in a jar and pressure can it. You could even can grass roots.

OK, I’m exaggerating a bit.  Some heavy, dense items, like winter squash, are no longer on the list for pressurecannable items, but most meats and vegetables are fodder for the pressure canner. Donna is adding stock, above, to a jar of cubed chicken breast that will soon become this:

And then this:

Mmm, tarragon chicken salad with green apple and celery.

I’ll post more about canning nopales later, but I’m bound and determined to get stuff done today before heading off to our other grassy food event this weekend, Bite of Eugene.  It’s a park festival down by the river at Alton Baker that features delectable bites from local chefs, all for the benefit of a fantastic nonprofit organization, Willamette Food and Farm Coalition.  WFFC works to rebuild our local food shed, educating consumers about the farm and other food production networks we have here in the South Valley.  It’s utterly worth supporting their mission by buying tasting bites.  Win-win.

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