Monday, August 31, 2009

Stay tuned! Film at eleven!

Very quickly, because I just got home and should have been in bed a half hour ago because I have to be at school at 7-ish...

1. I bought prune plums at Kroger of all places for 99 cents a pound. Is it possible to fall in love with a fruit? I am getting close to deciding what I want to do with them.

2. I made yogurt yesterday. Seriously, it's SO ridiculously easy that I'm mad at myself for not doing earlier. This isn't like me saying jam is easy. This is heat up some milk and let it hang out for a while easy.

3. I just got home from a cooking demo/class at Williams-Sonoma. One word... CAKE. I got to lick the icing paddle in the store. (Sorry, mom. I went there.)

More to come on all of this. I promise.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

End of second week review

Hi everyone. I've been studying hard. I have a lot of reading to do. A migraine this week has put me behind a little. Not to worry. I have a Study Hall Monitor is keeping a close eye on me. That's really where he sits when I'm studying.

I finally got my new messenger bag today! Yay! It turned out really cute! I couldn't be happier with it. Like I said, the quality is great, the style is unique. If you're in the market for a new bag, give Holly Aiken a hollah.

The main color is called parchment, the stems are called olive and the inside is the same royal blue as the flowers. You can see the two pockets on the inside.

In Basic Culinary Skills lab on Tuesday, we started the class with an hour of knife cuts. We lay them out on a plate, label it with our name, and leave it out for Chef to look over. Here's what I have from the second lab.

The cuts are as follows, from the green stuff clockwise:
Spinach, chiffonade (shiff-uh-nod)-a thin, ribbon-like cut of a leafy green
Onion, julienne (julie-n)-a thin, usually matchstick-like cut, in the case of an onion, a thin straight cut following the shape of the onion
Potato, tournee (tour-nay)-a small, 7-sided, approximately 2" long, football-like cut of a firm vegetable, usually potatoes
Carrot, brunoise (broon-wahz)-a small dice measuring 1/8"x1/8"x1/8"
Carrot, rondelle (ron-del)-an 1/8" thick round cut
Orange, segment or supreme (like creme)

And finally, from Friday's Baking I lab....the moment you've all been waiting for.

I didn't get a photo of my challah knots (rolls), because I forgot my camera on Friday. They came out pretty good. I need some work with my braiding technique, as you can see the challah is a bit wonky. The baguettes came out great. This was an authentic baguette dough too. Flour, water, salt and yeast only. It was the first dough we made yesterday. The new instructor came by as I was kneading the baguette dough with the proper technique. She looked really surprised at what I was doing and asked me if I had done it before. I also figured out why my lean bread from last week and this week are too light when they are cooked. For one, the oven temperature is lower than it should be but that's not something I can change. Also, if I add a bit of egg wash before and after the proofing, it should help get some color on the crust.

In other news, we had a guest this week in our main culinary classroom. A very, very chirpy cricket. He didn't shut up all week. Hopefully someone finally killed him. You have no idea how difficult it is to concentrate on the instructor when there's a cricket echoing from the drain under the cabinet.

Elvis says I'm done procrastinating. See ya next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Purchasing, homework and lessons learned.

I got my first grades in Purchasing. I received 100 points on my homework assignment and 88/100 on the first quiz. The quiz is taken through Blackboard, an online educational program-website deal. When I was taking the quiz, I went through and answered all of the questions right away. My plan was go back and review my answers and correct them if necessary before submitting the final quiz. I accidentally hit submit instead of going back to the first question. Oops. The good news, I still got a B and knew most of the information off the top of my head. It's the first of 20 or so quizzes, so I'm not worried.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why I do this, part 375.

I think people underestimate how difficult culinary school can be. There is much more to being successful than showing up in a floppy hat and learning a few new recipes. There is a lot of work that goes into learning this information and these techniques. First, I have a lot of reading. For Baking I this week, I had to read chapters six through nine. Granted the last two chapters were heavy on recipes, but I still have to be familiar with the recipes. The first two chapters, six and seven, had a lot of information about the process of making yeast breads. There is a lot of science in this information. A lot. In Basic Culinary Skills, we're taking two weeks to cover one chapter. Two weeks. We're covering stocks and sauces. This is really important information. In addition to learning this information for my lecture classes, I have to be able to make this stuff in my lab classes. I had to make a brown veal stock and a white chicken stock today. Had I not done my reading or paid attention in class, I couldn't have made these stocks today. I have weekly quizzes in all of my classes. I have to study extra hard because my department uses a seven-point grading scale even though the rest of the college is on a ten-point scale. Attendance is taken very seriously in my department as well. Being late twice counts as one absence.

Aside from the academic aspect of my program, I also have to be comfortable handling expensive and potentially dangerous kitchen equipment, like knives, gas stoves and ovens, steam jacket kettles, slicers, commercial garbage disposals, and the list goes on. I need to be able to stand for long periods of time, and longer periods of time once I graduate and get a job. I have to lift heavy things. I have to clean well enough to please the health department. I have to clean dishes and pots and pans that I didn't dirty. I have to wear a uniform with long pants, long sleeves, a hat, and apron even when it's 95 degrees out and 110 degrees in the kitchen. I have to keep my uniforms clean and pressed. In addition to bringing my books and notebooks to class, I also need to bring my knives and toolkit with me too. I have classes for 4 or 5 hours at a time. One class I will have next semester is nine hours long. I don't always get to take a potty or lunch break when I need to. My dough or sauce is the priority. I might get cut. I might get burned. I could get cut or burned by someone else who lacks practical kitchen experience.

I do this because I am passionate about food. I am passionate about making a dinner or dessert you will remember for years to come. I want to learn every bread baking technique. I will not be satisfied until I know how to make puff pastry. I will sit and read a cookbook like you read a romance novel. I want to know every difference between Northern and Southern Chinese cooking. I want to taste every funky tropical fruit I find in the produce department. I want to be able to make a perfect Hollandaise. I want to know everything there is to know about food and cooking. I understand that I will not be a chef when I graduate from school. I understand I will work six or seven 12-hour days in a row, or more. I know that I will not be able to celebrate New Years Eve with my friends or Valentine's Day with a honey because instead I chose a job that requires me to make your evening special.

If you feel the need to ask me which program I think you should follow, Culinary or Baking and Pastry, and "which one is better," you might want to reevaluate your career priorities. If it's never occurred to you to try Vietnamese food or think a dessert with a lime cilantro shortbread, tomato jam and avocado ice cream is "weird," you need to think long and hard about why you're taking these classes. If you can't stand for five hours at a time, carry hot and heavy pots and pans or have an issue being two elbows deep in a sink full of hot, greasy water, you will not be successful.

I am preparing for a career that will be physically and mentally draining. It will challenge me constantly. I will have to be creative and solve problems everyday, even if I don't feel like it. I will have to work with and taste foods I don't like. This also means I will not have to sit in rush hour traffic anymore. I will not have to wear a suit or be confined to a cubicle. This career will feed my soul.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Because I didn't get enough time in the kitchen yesterday, or why it's good to be my friend.

Last night, I hijacked the kitchen of dear friends, J&L. They bought a house about a year ago with a really nice, spacious kitchen. He also works for That Famous Kitchen Store you see at the mall, so their kitchen is stocked with at least one of every gadget, tool or appliance one could need, or at least that I could need. My kitchen on the other hand, is small, lacks storage, only has one sink and no dishwasher. On the bright side, it has more counter space than my last kitchen had...a whopping 12 inches. Can you say, "kitchen FAIL?"

I've been craving cioppino recently, but as I proved last night, it is impossible to make cioppino for one. For those unfamiliar, cioppino is an Italian influenced seafood stew from San Francisco, CA. In the late 1800s, in San Francisco the Italian fisherman created this dish from their catch of the day and a tomato and wine sauce. It can be served over or with pasta. It prefer it with bread. If you go to Italy and try to order cioppino, they will think you are crazy. It's not an Italian dish.

There aren't many rules for cioppino, except for the whole seafood, white wine and tomatoes thing. Last night, I used a Three Buck Chuck white wine, a can and a half of crushed tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, two fennel bulbs, garlic, an onion, leeks, lemon juice, parsley, basil, mussels, clams, cod, scallops, and shrimp. I cooked it in a 7qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven. The pot was full almost to the top! It was served with the bread I made in class yesterday. It was delicious.



Friday, August 21, 2009

Baking Lab, Day One.

I LOVE IT!!!!!!

We had our first lab today for Baking I, yeast breads. We had to use a weighted baker's scale, rather than a digital scale like I'm used to. I had to come home and give my digital scale a hug. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's one of these. Okay, not that one, but one that looked more like it's grandfather. Turns out, I've been spoiled with my wonderful, fantastic Salter digital scale. If you're in the market for a digital scale, I give it two thumbs up. These crazy old baker's scales...not so much. Turns out that if you aren't used to it, it can be wildly inaccurate. Nearly everyone ended up with a dough that was too wet, including me. We worked with partners to scale our individual ingredients, then proceeded from there on our own. I think my partner and I didn't accurately zero out the weight of the bowl on the scale. No worries. It worked out okay for all involved. All you do is add more flour once you get it on the bench. You knead it longer, but it works out okay. Observe:

Each recipe gave us five baguettes and about two dozen rolls. It took me a lot longer than some people to get my dough ready to rise, but when it came to portioning it, I was much faster than everyone else. I was also able to cut the 2 oz. rolls more accurately too. To shape the rolls, you hold one under each hand and roll around on the bench to for a nice smooth little ball. Since I was familiar with this technique already, I was able to knock out a pan of rolls in the time it took most of classmates to do five or six. I discovered that our ovens don't seem to brown this so well. I'm not sure why this is right now. Next time I'll be a bit more heavy handed with the egg wash. The picture is a bit washed out, but they aren't quite dark enough for me.

Unfortunately there is no professional experience requirement for my program like other school. For example, the Culinary Institute of America requires that you have worked for six months in a restaurant before they will accept you. I have many classmates who have only cooked at home or at church, so they don't understand kitchen etiquette. What I mean by this is that you let people know where you are. If I'm walking behind you, I'll say, "behind you!" loud enough that you can hear me. If I'm walking behind you with something hot, I'll say, "hot behind you" or "hot coming through." If I don't know you are back there and I turn around and walk into you, we could have a big mess, or worse. We had a lot of people who don't get that. I was sweeping at one point and turned around to find one woman standing behind me with a big bowl of dough. Just standing there. Waiting. I think some of these folks will be in for a big surprise when they go to work. I'm not being mean, mind you, just honest. Don't believe me? Read this post. Or this one.

When it came to clean up time, there were several people who were team players and several who stood around like they had no clue what needed to be done. Of course, I had no qualms about pointing out the equipment that needed to be put away or the floor that needed to be swept. I volunteered to stay late for class, by almost an hour today, to finish the clean up. These things will be noticed by the Powers That Be. I got to know a couple people in my class. One of them is J. who is also a B&P student like moi. He's cool. He has a fine arts degree, which is what made him choose pastry rather than culinary. It's nice to see another serious pastry student.

Safety and Sanitation class, Day One

Today was the first real day of Safety and Sanitation. We started class with You Tube videos about restaurant health inspections. Some of these videos are reenactments and some are filmed with hidden cameras. Either way, the information is real. Very, very real. People were shouting out, "Eeeew!" and "oh my god!" while we were watching them. You can't make this stuff up! I'm posting a link which you are welcome to check out.

Our county's website and a local tv station both have links to look up heath inspection reports of local restaurants. This information is available to the public, regardless of where you live in the US. Foodborne illness is no joke. I encourage you to look for this information in your area. Check out your favorite restaurants. How do they measure up? Please also remember that for every restaurant with these ridiculous violations, there are many more who work really hard to comply with health code regulations.

Not for the easily queasy!
Watch at your discretion.
Health Inspection Video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Raleigh Restaurant Week, August 24 to 30, 2009

Raleigh Restaurant Week is coming next week! If you're unfamiliar with the concept, our local restaurants offer a prix fixe three course menu for either $20 or $30, every day for a week. This is an amazing deal. Many of these restaurants are typically a lot more expensive than the prix fixe price.

Go here to see a list of the participating restaurants. Click on "menu" to see the special RRW offerings. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Culinary school, day two.

What I learned on Day Two:

1. There are many of us that have the same three classes on Tuesdays.

2. There are few who are serious culinary students. If the rest make it that far, I do not see them surviving an internship. Especially not in a restaurant with real line cooks. It's a bummer because the department head said they turned away 40 people already this semester. All the classes are full.

3. I have fantastic chefs (professors) with tons of experience. They are tough, they don't baby anyone and they expect you to follow the rules. I love this. I hope this washes out at least a few of the "students" that view this program like a Williams-Sonoma cooking class.

4. There are only two or three of us who have any knife skills. Most of them appear to have never held a kitchen knife before.

5. In spite of my excellent knife skills, I need to practice the tournee cut.

6. We have a reach-in cooler with left over food the students can eat. I can't wait to dig in.

7. I can't wait to learn more, but I have a feeling this semester is going to go too fast.

8. In my Baking I lab on Friday, I'm going to make baguettes.

9. We are encouraged to bring a camera to labs.

10. I am absolutely positively in the right program. I don't see why I can't get the internship I want and after graduation get a job at a Michelin starred restaurant.

11. I am one of very few students to wear a uniform to class. My chefs have noticed. So have the other students.

12. I finally learned how to tie my neckerchief.

13. Safety and Sanitation is going to be necessary but only occasionally interesting.

14. I need to hit the ILC (Individualized Learning Center) for math help. I had no problem with differential equations at NCSU, but fractions make me cry.

15. I have a lot of homework to do already. A lot of it is memorizing stuff. I need to make flash cards.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Culinary school, day one.

I had my first class today. Not much to report, folks. It looks like Purchasing is actually online, rather than the hybrid they advertised. We have three field trips during the semester, so they needed to give it a meeting time and place. Other than that, I am on my own. I plan on using the time set aside for class for my study time. Chef went over the Blackboard system used for online classes. He answered a few questions. We were done in an hour. Not surprisingly, I was the only one to show up in uniform. Two professors noticed. It's just as easy for me to put on the uniform as it is to put on jeans and a t-shirt, so I intend to wear the full uniform to all of my classes. The chef coats I bought fit very well and are quite comfortable, which is a nice change from the generically sized men's styles restaurants tend to order en masse. I promise (Mom, I'm looking at you!) to get someone to take a picture of me in uniform for you.

I stopped by Stitch today on my way home and ordered a new messenger bag for school. They didn't have to colors I wanted, so Holly offered to have one made for me. It will be ready next week. I'll post a picture when I get it. So cute! For those of you unfamiliar with her stuff, it's a hand made from an industrial vinyl. It's great quality, super cute and definitely unique!

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have homework to do!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Pit, Raleigh

I have to admit I never understood the mystique, the history and the importance of "BBQ" until I moved to and had lived in North Carolina for a few years. Growing up, I understood barbecue to be both a backyard picnic and a tangy red sauce brushed on chicken on the grill. I didn't understand the tiny yet of paramount significance regional differences in what is referred to as "BBQ" or even "cue." Beef vs. pork, pulled vs. chopped, shoulder vs. whole hog, ketchup based vs. vinegar based, these arguments that can define someone, some place, or something, were lost on me. I never knew that Styrofoam plates of chopped pork, collards, potato salad, slaw and fried okra could unite a racially segregated state, if only for a little while. At first, I didn't like what outsiders call North Carolina BBQ. Now, I love it and have learned to carefully refer to it as Eastern North Carolina BBQ.

Books have been written on the subject. I'm sure that somewhere some college in North Carolina offers a semester long symposium on this enigmatic food. Unless you've traveled to North Carolina, it's unlikely that you have truly had Eastern North Carolina BBQ. In Texas, "BBQ" refers to beef brisket with a spice rub and no sauce. In Memphis and Kansas City, it can mean ribs with a thick, tangy tomato-based sauce. In South Carolina, they prefer a yellow mustard-based sauce. Coming closer to Western North Carolina, it's pork, but with a redder sauce. In Central North Carolina, the sauce is still a little red, but less so. Around the epicenter of Eastern North Carolina, also known as Wilson, NC, the sauce is vinegar-based with red chile flakes, and definitely no tomato products! Make no mistake about it, folks cling to their own BBQ traditions with a loyalty typically reserved for trophy winning sports teams. In locally famous BBQ shacks, the Pitmaster reigns supreme. This is the man (yes, a man) who is responsible for maintaining the fires and cooking the meat. While the at-home BBQer typically cooks a shoulder, or Boston Butt, the Pitmaster of a cue shack typically cook the whole hog. Have you seen those Intel commercials? The slogan goes, "our rock stars aren't like your rock stars." That's kind of the way it is with North Carolina Pitmasters. One man, or family, can define the rules for BBQ in a North Carolina town. One of those men is Ed Mitchell. He is more than a locally famous rock star Pitmaster. He's been featured on Food Network, winning his Throwdown against Bobby Flay and on Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. The list also includes Gourmet Magazine, The New York Times, and so on and so on and so on.

When The Pit opened it's doors in Raleigh, Ed Mitchell was hired on as the Pitmaster. The place has been packed ever since. Tonight, I arrived with K & J around 7 PM. We had to wait for more than 30 minutes for a table at a crowded bar. On a Wednesday. This is pretty much standard at the Pit. It is definitely worth the wait.

One look at the menu and the price point and you'll understand why. The clientele was amazingly diverse, young, old, black, white, families, business men, you name it they were lined up for the legendary food. We were happy to wait at the bar with beers and BBQ Fries. Fresh cut fries, topped with chopped cue and melted pimento cheese with a side of BBQ Ranch.

Words cannot describe how good this was. And I don't like pimento cheese! While we were chatting and devouring our fries, Mr Mitchell was walking around talking to people. We asked the bartender if it would be possible to get our picture taken with him. She went over to talk to him and in a few minutes, he made his way over to us. I stood up and reached out my hand to greet him. He smiled, said, "noooo!" and gave me a huge bear hug like I was a long lost friend. He was thrilled to pose for pictures with us and chuckled at the camera (read:photographer) issues. He talked to us for a few minutes before he had to leave. Clearly Mr. Mitchell was enjoying this. It was obvious this was a daily occurrence and something that brought as much joy to Mr. Mitchell as it did the patrons. It absolutely made my day.

We were seated right after the photos were taken. The next round included fried green tomatoes with a pepper relish.

They were excellent. I was starting to feel a little full. The menu is huge. In the end I settled on the brisket. I got to try the chopped cue on the fries, so I was satisfied moving on to something else. I can't wait to go back for the barbecued tofu. I've heard it's fantastic. For my two sides, I chose collard greens and black eyed peas. They were both excellent.

J had the pulled pork with the fried okra and mac and cheese

K had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.

As you can see, it was a hit.

We ended the dinner with by sharing a scoop of housemade peach ice cream. It was really good, subtle, complex and creamy.

Regardless of which culinary path you choose, I think we can all recognize that there are those foods that define a location, be it a country, state or city. Cue is definitely a food that defines this area. As well, the area defines the food too. BBQ has been an important aspect of North Carolina culture since it was first prepared. Ed Mitchell has defined this symbol of the Old North State, and along with The Pit, has raised the bar. The fine dining atmosphere is elegant and accessible at the same time. It gives a new respect to this most beloved of comfort foods. It also reminds us that at one point BBQ was a special food, reserved for celebrations.

If you find yourself in Raleigh and looking to eat where the locals eat, The Pit is the place to go. The prices are excellent, making this restaurant very family friendly. The service was great. The drink selection is carefully chosen to compliment the food served. The kitchen stays true to its roots, using only ingredients from North Carolina. I truly enjoyed my evening at The Pit.

The Pit, 328 West Davie St, Raleigh. 919-890-4500

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fig tart with anise scented pastry cream

I'm off to a cookout at L&N's house. Here's what I'm bringing. Enjoy what's left of your weekend!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Early Saturday Morning Farmer's Market Haul.

This morning I got up extra early and hit the NC State Farmer's Market. I haven't been too often this summer because it didn't seem that impressive to me this year. There didn't appear to be as much produce as previous visits, nor as much variety. This morning I was on a mission. I wanted tomatoes. I needed tomatoes. I was up, showered, dressed and on my way by 7:30. I got a great parking space which is rare when going to the farmer's market on a Saturday. I got breakfast at the restaurant first, a fantastic veggie and cheese omelet and a big fluffy biscuit.

Once I got down to the main building, I was really impressed! There was an amazing variety of produce, although some of the prices still seemed a little high for some things. For example, the corn was still $4 a dozen. The corn farmers will literally load up the back of the pick up truck and back it into the building. The kid stand in the back of the truck and shuck the corn for you. By the end of corn season, the price will drop to about $2 a dozen. You can still get the big bags, 65 ears, for $18. This is a great deal if you're going to be canning or freezing it. The regular red field tomatoes are about $1.49 a pound and the German Johnsons are $1.99 a pound.

I spent about an hour and a half there shopping. Here's what I got.
Please notice Elvis McSneaky heading for the basil. This, folks, is why I can't grow my own herbs.

I got tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onions, peaches for eating and jam, a miniature butternut squash, blueberries, figs, apples, pears, cucumbers, fresh thyme, fresh mint and fresh basil, wax beans, goat cheese, and grape tomatoes. See the giant bag of peppers? I got that for $6. This farmer sells boxes of not perfect peppers. In the morning they look over their produce. Anything that's gotten soft, a bit overripe, had a bad spot, etc., goes into a box. The peppers are sold for $6 and the tomatoes are sold for $8. I think next weekend or the weekend after, I'm going back for a box of canning tomatoes. The peppers were $1.99 a pound. Since I'm making ratatouille, the box o'peppers was a great deal. I also made a box for friends, with peppers, a few onions, basil and a bit of cilantro.

When I got home, I made my traditional farmer's market salad. Grape tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, all the herbs I had on hand (basil, thyme, mint, oregano, and rosemary), a little olive oil and a splash of white wine vinegar. Yummy!

I couldn't resist posting this one. Just as I started to click the shutter, Helvis came out from behind the curtains and went straight for the mint. When I came home and laid out the produce, we had a few disagreements about who was allowed to handle the produce. Just before I started typing this post, I heard a strange noise coming from the bathroom. I found him on a pile of towels and swimsuits, playing with a wax bean. He'd apparently snuck onto the table while I wasn't looking and grabbed one. What am I going to do with this cat?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Breakfast of champions, revised

I picked up some friends from the airport yesterday morning. In exchange for my chauffeur services, I got breakfast. We have a little joint not far from where I live called Finch's. I've seen it before, driven past for years but never stopped. It's on Peace Street, almost sandwiched under the Capitol Boulevard overpass. It looks, dare I say it, a bit beat down. However, every morning, the parking lot is packed with cars. Apparently this is the place to meet for a breakfast meeting with the law making movers and shakers about town. Finch's is only a few blocks from the legislature building, and as my friend put it, legislation begins here and finishes up over there.

View Larger Map

Finch's is an old school greasy spoon where one might find locals who have been eating there and the folks who've been serving them since the dawn of time. Personally, I'd like for Guy Fieri to visit. They serve good diner food and a proper Southern Breakfast, including grits, biscuits, sausage, pancakes, waffles, and so on. I opted for my personal favorite. Biscuits and gravy.


Biscuits and gravy is something I eat maybe once every six months. It's good, but not good for you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Southern American cooking, it's a loose sausage (think ground meat) in a cream gravy. Good stuff, people, good stuff. Finch's was exceptional. The gravy was served piping hot over two soft fluffy biscuits. It had a good sausage flavor, but it was also pleasantly spicy. It was excellent, and I ate every bite. The coffee was pretty good too. The prices were more than fair. The service was good. All in all, it was a great experience and I can't wait to go back.

If you find yourself in Raleigh and in need of some breakfast, drop by Finch's. They'll treat you right and fill you up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Giveaway at Canning Across America

Recently I posted about process of making jam. Using similar techniques, it's possible to make pickles, preserve fruit and more using up that bounty from the garden or farmer's market. The process of canning preserved fruit or pickles isn't that different from canning your jam. If you can do one, you can do another.

I came across a new website yesterday thanks to Chez Pim, who I follow on Twitter. It's Canning Across America, designed, in their words, to serve as a community and information clearinghouse. Personally, I'm excited. I highly recommend you take a look at their Who We Are page, it's a fascinating list of people. Poke around on the website and you'll see a great book list, recipes, events, classes, and more.

Canning Across America is hosting a giveaway right now with a deadline of August 12. On a first come first serve basis, you get a copy of Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving and coupons for canning supplies. This is the definitive guide to home preserving and canning, people. If you have any interest in trying this, drop by Canning Across America to take advantage of their generous offer. The instructions are on the giveaway post.

C'mon. You know you want to join the Canvolution.