Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Making Christmas Presents--Jalapeno Jelly

I won't bore our few faithful readers with accounts of all the Christmas gifts I've tried to make, but this one is such a good illustration of why I must start months ahead of time to finish anything these days. Making Jalapeno Jelly seemed like such a straightforward process; if you'd like the bare bones recipe for normal people, see full tummies. If you'd like to see what this process is like with 3 young children, read on.... Remember, it only takes about 2o minutes "active time" to make this.

Rewind back to late May: I planted my garden. I got such a late start because of aforementioned toddlers, so, the salsa ingredients I planted failed to mature all at the same time. (Read that as: hundreds of jalapenos, few tomatoes, and no bell peppers....) So, I was stuck with tons of jalapenos and decided that everyone was getting jalapeno jelly for Christmas this year! Genius, right?

August: Didn't have time to actually make the jelly, so I chopped up all the peppers and froze them.

Fall: bought all supplies for jelly making (pectin, jars, etc.).

November: Realized in a panic that I was planning to take all Christmas gifts for hubby's side of the family with us to Thanksgiving since we might not see them at Christmas. Time for jelly making (and finishing other Christmas presents, making shortbread, etc.). So, the day for jelly making arrives. Here's my day:
  • Breakfast: while kids are eating, I retrieve all supplies from basement and other places. Pull peppers out of freezer. So far, so good. Oh--I fished out my big canning funnel from the kids' toy bin and gave it a good washing.
  • Mid-morning: wash all jars and lids. Set big canning pot and stock pot on stove.
  • Lunchtime: while kids are eating, I start jars sterilizing (takes FOREVER for water to boil in my big pot) and blend up peppers. Realize I'm 1/4 cup sugar short and SPRINT to neighbor's house with my key, purloin some sugar, sprint back (all in the rain), and make sure kids are still alive and well on planet Earth.
  • Naptime: Well, only 2 of the 3 kids was napping (long story). But, still, the odds are in my favor. So, we begin the actual 15-20 minute process by placing pepper/vinegar/sugar mixture in pot on stove and turn the burner on. This only has to come to a rolling boil and boil for a few minutes...
  • AS SOON AS I TURN THE BURNER ON: Twin A (the lucky one downstairs with me) has a dirty diaper. Might not be cause for immediate attention on a normal day, but this was the first one in a couple of days. Move pot of pepper mixture off burner and tend to diaper.
  • Wash hands and begin again. This time I make it to the point when I'm actually pouring the hot mixture into the hot jars and daughter starts screaming bloody murder (upstairs in her room). I screw hot bands on hot lids and hot jars (burning my fingers) and throw them all into the pot and race upstairs (scooping up Twin A). She'd gotten the mini blinds cord around her neck.... (sigh). Yes, it could have been bad, but this time it just scared her (and me). We spend some time comforting and snuggling and discussing why that's not a good idea to do EVER AGAIN. Then, we all three march back downstairs just in time to take jars out of water bath. Did I decide to do the needed second batch that same day? Nope... We'll save that adventure for an evening when kids are in bed and hubby is at home.
  • Verdict: 6 half-pints of beautiful and tasty jelly; 3 safe kids; 1 pooped mom.


Tara said...

What a blessing your baby was okay! It always freaks me right on out to see a kid with a blind cord around their neck. It only takes a minute.

Quick question. What do you DO with jalepeno jelly? I can't see making a pbj with jalepenos!

(Found you through your comment on Rocks in my Dryer.)

Tarnished Teapots said...

Sorry about our delay in posting your comment, Tara, and our delay in responding! We forget to check this email account... We put the jelly on top of cream cheese and serve with crackers as an appetizer. Mmmmm