Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


Local Food

animal veg mirableWaking up to eating local food as much as possible happened when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of a year in her family’s life when they moved from Arizona to a family farm that had long been abandoned in southern Appalachia.   The family decided they would eat only what they raised or what could be traded with another local farmer, with the exception of only a few things, coffee and French wine among them.

This got me thinking and I asked Graham to read the book also. The idea of eating locally, in season, was a brand new concept compared to the way we grew up with supermarkets stocking all kinds of foods all the year. Yes, we could buy strawberries in time for my sister’s January birthday cake. Yes, we could get a can of pumpkin to make a pie in the summer.  But might they be more appreciated when they came into season right near where we lived?

This book and then continued reading and discussing with others made us realize how our eating habits were adding to increased use of fuel for transporting food from the southern hemisphere to us, and more important, we realized we really had never thought about who was raising the food we were relying on for nutrition.

fried fishFor the same reason we didn’t particularly eat seafood when living in landlocked West Virginia.  We very much enjoyed eating our fill of fresh fish and seafood when we traveled to either coast.  Some food just tastes so much better when it is fresh.  If you think about it, except for freshly caught trout and fresh water fish, almost all seafood served in the center of the country is fried, the better to mask a bit of age.  In fact, most people will swear they prefer fried fish, and again, that is because most of the ocean fish served in the landlocked states is NOT particularly fresh.Albacore_Tuna

So, speaking of loving fresh fish, when we moved here the first thing I learned to can with a pressure canner was tuna and it is that time of year again! My sister lives on the coast and has a friend whose husband fishes for tuna and she was able to get them at a really good price. 2014-08-17 08.37.19Today Graham started early, trimming 40 pounds of tuna.  After sterilizing all the jars we cut the tuna into chunks, packed the half pints2014-08-17 11.13.09 and then topped them off with a bit of salt, a spoon of lemon juice and some olive oil.

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

We put my sister friend Linda to work too!

100 minutes later at 10 pounds of pressure we had our first 48 jars, and a second round brought us up to 99.  Canned outside thanks to my friend Jana who loaned us her propane stove and her much better pressure canner.2014-08-17 11.46.27My sister and one of her friends each took a quarter, with Graham and I keeping the rest.  We finished about six hours after we had started, but again, we had to process two batches, each taking 100 minutes. It was a full day and one we will enjoy all year long, when we savor our canned tuna.2014-08-17 14.30.18

So, you say, you can buy tuna fish. And so, back at you, I tell you that you would never eat your favorite, Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea ever again….not after you taste what fresh tuna canned at home tastes like!

Eat local is AMAZING!!!2014-08-17 11.13.35




This is not Charlie the Tuna!

Years ago my mom took the family to Alaska to celebrate the high school graduation of my oldest two kids. One of the amazing foods we experienced there was some home-canned salmon. It was so much better than anything we could purchase commercially in the grocery store so I simply stopped buying it.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email that one of my favorite seafood restaurants, Local Ocean in Newport, Oregon, was offering tuna at an amazing price. The tuna are running and the time was perfect to earn how to home can some! Local Ocean is located opposite the commercial fishing boats in Newport’s harbor and although it has a restaurant, the store is well known as a fantastic fish market.loslogo

I asked my friend Charles Price of The Taste Of Oregon and he deferred to another friend Tina Schneider. Tina is a caterer and owner of Incredible Edibles and also brings a portable wood burning brick pizza oven to the Salem farm marketDSC_0009

My sister Laura was the courier, picking up the fish and bringing it to us when she also so graciously arrived to help with the unpacking. She could not be with us for the activity, but for her service, she will get some of the finished product!

I purchased a pressure cooker for canning, 2 packs of half pint jars, and the needed ingredients: tuna, lemon juice, salt, and Charles brought the olive oil.photo

Tina started us out cutting the fish fillets into small chunks, roughly 1-2 inches square. We put a very small amount of lemon juice and salt into each jar, put in chunks of the tuna and then filled with the oil. Jars were closed up and the pressure cooker loaded and then the cooking started.DSC_0002

We had some rain but Graham and I put up a canopy and a table outside and set up the burners out on the deck. We had been advised to do the work outside because of the anticipated aroma, but one other person had suggested that if the fish was fresh there would be no bad smell. As it turned out, the fuel canisters on the outside cookers did not get the pressure cookers to the temperature/pressure needed so we ended up on the kitchen stove. (the house does not smell.)

DSC_0007Each batch takes 100 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, and then time to release. We ended up processing 48 jars and still had tuna left over, so I froze it in the chunks and we will have tuna kabobs in the future.DSC_0011

This was my first pressure cooking canning experience and was a lot of fun! Thank you Tina for your patience and smiles….and the vanilla ice cream you made for the apple pie (from my back yard apples!!)