A Guys’ Guy’s First Step Down the Slippery Slope to …


Author Phil Scott in disguide as survivalist

“New York Magazine may think artisanal pickles are ‘twee,’ but I don’t. Not one little bit.”
(Photo: Mollie Ann Smith)

I’m a five-foot-eleven-inch, 175-pound manly male, comfortable climbing Kilimanjaro or sleeping on the cold metal floor of a transport headed to or from Afghanistan, comfortable surviving on MREs. I once tried to have The Food Channel removed from my cable package and replaced with The Manly Adventure Channel. Last time I stepped foot in a kitchen was to nuke a couple of hot dogs. Otherwise it’s the room I have to cross through to get from my bedroom to the bathroom. And now because I’m always looking to cut costs, I’m signed up for what could be one of the most complex operations known to cooking kind—canning. And I’m the only guy in the class.

Catherine, who’s teaching the canning class at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, explains that it’s been a part of her life for her whole life. Her grandmother’s last words were, “Well girls, I guess we won’t be canning this year.” At the beginning of the two-hour class she says that anything can be pickled, from green beans to eggs. Yeah, eggs. They taste gross, but they’re still pickleable. That’s probably why they’re usually only found in bars.

Us novices, we’re going to start with green beans. Not a big fan of green beans.

Catherine really emphasizes exactitude. This whole canning business isn’t so much an art as a precise chemistry problem. “Follow directions,” she says. “It’s really easy to get botulism.” For those who haven’t had botulism, or botulitis, or whatever it’s called, the stuff’s pretty toxic. [Read more…]

In Appreciation

Taking advantage of this beautiful day to put some of the Brooklyn Backyard garden to sleep for the winter. Spent two hours gently digging up and separating and cleaning small oxalis bulbs. A very labor-intensive, though (for me) satisfying task that I do every fall. Repetitive, solitary, quiet with birds and rustling leaves.

And later on I intend to sit quietly and knit for an hour or two before Yom Kippur arrives this evening.

I think of those who use their hands and lovingly create amazing things for all to admire, use, taste, share.


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