Month: August 2014

Guest Post: “Summer Canning” by Caroline Carrico

It’s summer time in Memphis, which means that my house has seen us buying the air, grabbing a beer, and getting the water bath canner boiling. Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make dill pickles. My Mema has always made what I consider to be the gold standard of pickles–salty with a hint of garlic and so vinegary they make your eyes squint. She passed her recipe down to me, and after a few early mistakes, I have at least come close to her perfect pickle. I will also be making dilly beans, pickled jalapeños and rosemary pickled cherry tomatoes.

Lest you think our house has only smelt like vinegar this summer, we’ve also been peeling, hulling, chopping and crushing our way to jam. The half pints of strawberry jam are finished, paving the way for peaches, blueberries and blackberries. With the help of a friend with a raised burner stove, we’ve bust out the pressure canner and put up tomatoes to use this winter.

Living in the Mississippi Delta provides a home food preserver and aspiring gardener with an astounding variety of produce with which to work. My mom, husband, and I grow some of the vegetables that we’ve used at our plot at the Shelby Farms community gardens. I will pick up the fruit from Jones Orchard and Nesbit Blueberry Plantation. There is no shortage of farmers at the local markets who can supply anything I want that I have not grown myself.

Whenever I tell people that I can food, I get asked why I bother. It’s simple really. I like having jam that actually tastes like fruit and pickles that make my eyes water. But most importantly, I like sharing a skill with my grandmother and being able to ask her for advice. It made us closer. The good food is just a bonus.

Thanks to Caroline for this reflection on Southern cooking culture. For more harvesting ideas, subscribe to her blog, “Ideas and Thinks.” 

Thousands Take the Ice-bucket Challenge for Good

While some like Brian Carney have written dissents regarding the forced altruism behind the viral “Ice-bucket Challenge,” one has to admit that this frenzied fad has made waves.

The ALS Association’s Ice-bucket Challenge has reached millions of viewers as thousands have participated, uploaded videos, and made donations to charity. Celebrities, presidents, school teachers, and even billionaires have been peer pressured into being silly for what will hopefully make a make long-term impact against a debilitating disease.

It’s no doubt that the ALS Association has benefited with a record-breaking $51.3 million raised, largely due to this campaign, in addition to the aided awareness.

What’s personally fascinating is the vast reach of young to old, rich to poor, popular to unknown…this social media tactic ignited a visible movement. People have openly expressed their support, financially contributed, had fun, and involved others. That’s exactly what nonprofits and many businesses strive for when engaging audiences.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (my employer) had a viral success earlier this year thanks to Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded selfie that was retweeted by millions. The children’s hospital received more than $1 million along with millions of mentions because of a charitable social media push.

Although many folks challenged themselves and others for sport, I am glad to see strangers cheerfully uniting online for good causes. It sure beats the daily vitriol and mindless BuzzFeed posts that typically fill my newsfeed.

With that being said, bottom’s up: