Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I'm a snob

There are certain things I'm realizing I can be very snobby about (my husband helps me come to these realizations, bless his heart).

1. maple syrup. I can not, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to buy anything other than REAL maple syrup. This comes from growing up with a maple bush in our back 40 and having my parents boil the sap each spring to make our own syrup. My husband Derek: he'd be fine with Aunt Jemima's any day.

2. pickles. I can not, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to buy pickles. Aren't these something that you make, like with your grandmother's recipe? I made small sweet dill pickles yesterday. Derek informed me that they're not his favourite. His favourite? Store-bought huge dill pickles - the very sour kind.

Sweet Dill Gerkins

Pickling syrup:
¾ cup water
1 cup vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1 t pickling spice
¼ t turmeric

In each jar:
dill sprigs
garlic cloves (one per jar)

If you have a ½ bushel of cucumbers, multiply the above syrup recipe by 6.

Wash cucumbers well and clip of the ends. Place them in a bowl, covered in water, and sprinkle several tablespoons of pickling salt on top. Salt cucumbers overnight.

Heat syrup ingredients until boiling. Turn down heat to medium; heat cucumbers in syrup ‘til colour changes. Take out the pickles with a slotted spoon so that you can keep using the syrup to heat more cucumbers.

Put one clove of garlic and a sprig of dill in each sterilized jar. Add pickles. Pack tight to fit as many as you can in the jar. Add hot pickling syrup to jars until ¼” from top of jar. Sprinkle a bit of alum on the top to keep pickles crisp. Put lids on top. Process in canner for 10 minutes.

My 1/2 bushel of cucumbers made 20 jars of pickles - enough for one year.

3. jam/jelly. Do people really buy this in a store, and not just make it themselves from their backyard berries? Yes. Derek included.

4. pencil cases. An American friend informed me that they don't use pencil cases south of the border - can you imagine? Most of my pencil cases growing up were handmade - sewn by my mom. And I loved them. So I sewed a pencil case for my daughter last year - she picked the fabric. It turned out a bit small. Note to self: measure it against some long unsharpened pencil crayons (called "colored pencils" in the USA) before cutting and sewing. Apparently, through the course of the year, some friends and her art teacher commented that it was a small pencil case, so we're in the market for a new one before school starts. I found a plastic BOUGHT one that I'm not using much, and offered it to her because I wasn't sure about taking on a sewing project this week, even a tiny one like a pencil case. She was quite excited. But it pains me just a tiny bit to think of this impersonal case going to school. Homemade signifies loving care to me - to open and close something every day at school and remember home... what could be better?

last year's homemade case beside this year's plastic one

There are probably more things I'm snobby about, and maybe when Derek reads this about 2 months from now he can add to this list.


  1. I'm the same way especially about baking, and even more specifically cookies. I can't for the life of me understand why people think Mr. Christie makes good cookies when fresh and gooey from the oven is so much better. I join you in the ranks of snobdom :)
    Karen Suderman

  2. Karen, I totally understand cookie snobbiness. I have that too. I'll add it to the list. You're right - fresh and gooey is so much better.

  3. Hi Rebecca. I would love a good pickle recipe! Do you think your Grandmother would mind if you shared? This past winter I started a new project. I'm collecting all my mom's recipes that we grew up with as kids & am working on assembling them in some kind of order to make a book for our family. I just think it's so sad to have favourite family dishes that no one but my mom knows how to make. I wish I had started this before my Grandma past away. We have a few of her favourites that we just can't get right. Just thought I'd share...

  4. I will happily share my grandma's recipe. I'll just have to interpret some of the scrawlings (my own) before writing it out so that it makes sense to someone else! I'll post it as part of this blog post, and let you know in these comments when I'm done.

    That's a great idea to collect family recipes like that. I have a number of my grandma's - my wish is that I would have had a camera/video camera to document some of her baking/cooking/preserving with images. Oh well. I'll have to make my own!

  5. Love this post! I am a self confessed food snob - parmesan cheese, maple syrup, cookies (of course homemade), cakes from scratch (totally frustrating when a recipe calls for a cake mix!). I'm sure there are many more.

  6. Derek (said hubby)6 September 2011 at 12:32

    On the maple-syrup side, perhaps it is not snobbishness as much as Ontario-centric. Growing up in the prairies, corn-syrup WAS local, where maple syrup was not.

    There’s something about the childhood taste of store-bought pickles that just can’t be replicated...

  7. Catherine: Good list - interesting that you have parmesan on there too! I've managed to let go of the cakes from scratch one - since hosting kid parties. They just mangle the cake anyway, so I figure what the heck - store bought it is. When I really care about the taste and ingredients (for a different crowd) I make it from scratch.

    Derek: I can understand corn syrup. I just can't understand Aunt Jemima's. It's because of all the ingredients: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORS, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE. The ingredient list in maple syrup: maple sap. I guess I'm just snobby/skeptical when it comes to ingredients I can't pronounce. Like this list from a jar of store-bought pickles: cucumbers, water, white vinegar, salt, spices and seasonings, (good so far, eh?), calcium chloride, tartrazine, polysorbate 80.

  8. There! The pickle recipe has been added to this post. Enjoy!

  9. Oh, I hear you! Although I confess to store-bought cookies simply because we eat waaaaaaay more of them when they are home-made ;-)
    I have never made pickles, which is odd because I love them so much and my mother had a wonderful recipe for pickled beans. That said, the little Maille gherkins in France are heavenly and I could eat the whole jar without a tad of remorse. (ingredients: cucumbers, wine vinegar, black pepper, water, sea salt ;-)

  10. Mara, we loved those little baby Maille gherkins in France too. I think we bought a jar every time we went grocery shopping. ;) Love the ingredient list too.