Friday, November 28, 2008

Of Pumpkins and Neurotic Dogs

I've been working on canning pumpkin for the last weeks weeks. Between the amount of time it takes to process each pumpkin, and the fact that I ran out of jars, this project is taking a long time. Unfortunately I have managed to turn our normally happy mop dog into a shivering pile of jelly during this project.

You see Muffet is a neurotic dog. We found out the day we brought her home from the local SPCA shelter that doorbells send her into fits of shrill and annoying barking. A few weeks later our fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. Muffet tried to teleport outside by slamming herself into the back door repeatedly and when I finally opened it she ran blindly as far away from the house as she could get. We finally found her a couple of kilometres away.

The next trigger we found by accident the following canning season. We were doing our normal canning and when the jars made their characteristic POP, as they sealed, Muffet became unglued. The first pop caused her to shiver and pant. The second pop made her start running back and forth between the front and back door. The third pop, well lets just say I had to clean doggy body prints off the back door. But canning season is normally fairly short and she got over it pretty quick, until the following season.

This year is another story. Each load of pumpkin takes 1.5 hours to cook at 10lbs pressure. That is a lot of time for Muffet to drive her self insane with fretting. Then it takes almost an hour for each load to cool off enough to open the canner and pull out the jars, which then start sealing over the next two hours. Each pumpkin is so large that it takes at least two loads to can it all which means two days of canning per pumpkin.

I've only managed to process two pumpkins so far and already Muffet is so wired that I can't stand in the kitchen, doing normal kitchen stuff, without her beginning to shiver and pant. If she sees me handle the canner or handle canning jars, she goes nuts wanting outside. Yesterday, I put her outside with our big dog, who prefers to be outside during the day in a kennel, while the canner was at pressure. When it was time to come inside she refused to obey and had to be physically picked up and brought inside.

To give Muffet, and myself, a break from the sound of the canner at pressure I have decided to make pumpkin soup out of the third pumpkin. It will still be canned but not for a couple of days as I cook the pumpkin, add vegetable stock, add various vegetables and spices, and finally cook the whole thing down to a thick soup of pureed vegetables. It'll be nice to have this winter and, like I said, it will give both of us a chance to unwind and not have to worry about the canner for awhile.

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