Today I can call myself a bona fide, card-carrying, every-inch-a woman because yesterday I canned. Being able to can just rounds me out as a person. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and independence -- I could conceivably go off the grid with my my little 4x6 raised garden bed and my 22 quart pressure canner.My mother was an inveterate canner. She canned tomatoes, peaches, apricots, nopales (cactus), fig jam,tomato jam, salsa verde and purslane (verdolagas). The original urban locavore, she always drove around 1950s Los Angeles, California with a kitchen knife and some newspaper in the trunk of her car, just in case she came upon a bunch of purslane or cactus. The cleaning of the cactus was ritualistic: clear the table off, spread out layers of the local Spanish language newspaper, "La Opinion", and very carefully take the spines off, stack them, rinse them, cut them into long four inch-long pieces, cook them and then can them. It was a lot of work, but it was free food.
I felt that same sense of ritual yesterday. Monday I bought the vegetables. Tuesday I prepped the vegetables and cleaned all the jars. Wednesday I sauteéd each vegetable in olive oil and salt separately and dumped them into a scrupulously clean bus tub. I added the hot vinegar-water and then started to jar the huge pile of vegetables.This is the Escabeche (ess-cah-beh-cheh) we made and served at Villa Victoria Take-out.
6 lb. Cauliflower florets
5 lb. Carrots, peeled & sliced
3 lb. Red, Yellow & Green Bell Peppers, cut into broad pieces
3 lb. Onions, cut into broad slices
2 lb. Jalapeños, whole
8 oz. Garlic cloves
.5 oz. Bay leaves
.5 tsp. Black pepper
.5 tsp. Whole cloves
1 cup Olive oil
1.5 gal. Apple cider vinegar
1 gal. Water
Sauté each vegetable in a big wide flat-bottomed pan. Squirt a little olive oil, add the vegetable, a sprinkling of salt and brown. Proceed the same way through all the ingredients. Heat the vinegar and water together and pour over all of the browned vegetables. This will make about 20 quarts canned.