Fair Beans

A few years ago, I made an apple pie for the husband that turned out so asthetically pleasing that he dubbed it a "fair pie." It looked so nice, I could have entered it in the county fair. (Those of you who know me well know that I do not like to bake, so that truly was an accomplishment.) Since then, any time something turns out particularly well, it gets the "fair" adjective put in front of it. 

Yesterday, I did 18 pints of "fair beans":

These could not have turned out any better. The beans plumped up perfectly, the jars sealed with no liquid loss, and now we have enough beans on hand for a few weeks' worth of meals. I'll probably do a batch of white beans next. 

[I used some blue canning jars that I had on hand; they are pretty, but food looks kind of funny in blue jars (you can see the one front and center). I think I'll stick with the clear ones.]

It's ridiculously easy to get these done while I am working. I put everything on the stove to heat up, including the pressure canner with about 3" of water in the bottom of it, and by the time I get the jars filled and the lids and rings put on, the water in the canner is just about boiling. I load up the canner, close it, wait for it to exhaust, then put the weighted gauge on and work until the pressure builds up. (That takes about 20 minutes or so and my office is right off the kitchen, so it's easy to check on things.) Once the pressure reaches 15 pounds, I turn the timer on for 90 minutes and work while the beans are processing. Easy peasy. 

My canner holds 19 pints. Two 2-pound bags of black turtle beans makes 18 pints. 


It's been a fabric cutting marathon this week. I have DD#2's room set up as the cutting room. She still comes home fairly often and wants it to look the same as when she left, so I couldn't completely revamp it into a sewing room. (She's here now, as a matter of fact. The cutting table got moved back into DD#1's room for a few days.) Before I went to Spokane last weekend, I was cutting up a bolt of this:

It's an Ann Kelle Urban Zoologie print For Robert Kaufman fabrics. My friend Cathy, who died in April, was the executive director of a nonprofit in Kalispell that supports families and small children. A few weeks ago, the acting executive director, Kalie, (also a friend of Cathy's) approached my friend Twila (Cathy's sister-in-law) and asked her if the church ladies could make some simple drawstring bags. The center gives new moms a bag of diapers and wipes. They have been using one-gallon Ziplock bags but they thought it would be a nice remembrance of Cathy to use fabric bags, instead, for a while. They chose the ladybug fabric because Cathy was particularly fond of ladybugs. 

Twila and I consulted with Margaret about the size of the bags, and I offered to cut the bags out as I keep my cutting table set up all the time. A bolt of fabric typically has 15 yards on it. I got about half the fabric cut before I left for Spokane, and I have just a bit left to do this weekend. The church ladies will sew them into bags and put the drawstrings in. 

I picked up some more canvas remnants in Spokane last weekend. Grocery bag-making continues and I have pieces cut out for another half-dozen. I do love sewing on that industrial Necchi. It's just so smooth and goes through that canvas like butter. When I got that machine, it was pretty stiff and seized up, and now it just takes a light touch on the handwheel to get it moving. I have a good selection of presser feet now and plenty of needles and thread. Have I mentioned that I love that machine? 

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