Sunday, June 24, 2018

Day 2 of Pickling/Preserving, and a Trip to the ER

The bounty of the day!
With the few good fingers I have left on my right hand (two), I begin my post. Aaaaand there's already blood on the trackpad. (sigh) Time to change the fingertip bandage on the thumb again. BRB.

Today is another canning day for me. I still say "is" as I have 10 lbs of cucumbers and 1 pint of morels sliced, resting in salt, and ready to pickle in the next hour and a half. I am running late because my day was unfortunately interrupted due to an accident with the mandoline. More on that later.

The day started with rhubarb chutney. About 30 minutes into cooking the chutney it became apparent that you can't make rhubarb chutney from frozen rhubarb as it has very little structural integrity to start with so maintaining a good structure is an impossibility. So I called Dave over to get his opinion. First thing he did was stick his finger in the pot and taste it--something I had not bothered to do yet. "Yum", he said. "I can taste this on a pork tenderloin."

"So, sauce?", I responded.

"Oh yeah", he said. Then we went back and forth a bit on how much more it should reduce, whether I should strain it or leave the vestiges of rhubarb, onion, raisin, and spices in it. The decision was leave in, and thicken a bit more. I ended up with three pints and 7 half-pints of incredible rhubarb chutney sauce that sealed perfectly after canning. Then I moved on to the rhubarb syrup. That was a genius move as I am--post ER and six stitches--enjoying a rhubarb sour made from Bulleit rye, lemon juice and some of the afore-mentioned rhubarb syrup. I only got two pints of the syrup from about two lbs of rhubarb, and it's pretty thin, but boy is it yummy! One pint has already been cracked open and put in the fridge after we used the left-over two ounces for the first two sours. But I'm getting ahead pf myself...

After the syrup, it was after noon and time for the cucumber pickles. My goal was a double batch of bread and butter slices and a double batch of garlic dill spears--16 pints total. Oh, and one pint of pickled morels that didn't get used up in the beef stroganoff last week. It being Sunday, Dave had a hankering to take in a movie. When he asked if I'd mind if he went to a matinee of The Incredibles 2, I assured him I wouldn't (we all saw it on opening day, he just wanted to go again), but I did ask him if he would mind walking down and I would pick him up after in case I needed to run to the store in mid pickle. Boy was that a serendipitous choice!

So Dave left and I started slicing pickles. I was lamenting not having a wavy pickle slicer when I glanced over and saw my mom's old mandoline. "Well" I thought, "At least I can have perfectly sized 1/4" slices." And thus, like Alice, I fell down the slippery slope to the rabbit hole. Dave had said many times in the past how dangerous mandolines were and how he'd be happy to check me out on it if'n I wanted to use it. "How hard could it be?" I mused. It was surprisingly easy! In fact it was so sharp that I thought I wasn't pushing down hard enough and the cucumber was just sliding over the top of the blade. When I looked underneath and saw the perfect little 1/4" slices I was very happy and started slicing back and forth really fast, congratulating myself on how efficient I was and how I was goig to show Dave the great job I did with the mandoline... and as quick as that I knew I had gone right through my finger with the preceding slice. I looked at the blood welling from the top right side of my ring finger and the flat spot where there used to be tip...

But I'm good in a crisis. I washed it off, covered it in paper towels and lifted the mandoline to retrieve the missing part. There it was, a slice with a good bit of fingernail still attached. That's how sharp the mandoline it: I went right through 1/4" long section of fingernail without even slowing down. I picked it up, put it sloppily back on the end of my finger, and thought about what I should do next. Should I just bandage it tightly on and hope it grew back together, or should I go to the ER to see if they would sew it back on? In the end I opted for the ER. I also opted for not calling Dave as I reasoned there was nothing he could do other than be stressed and wait, and he might as well enjoy the movie and I would pick him up and he would see me again when everything was fine. In hindsight that was a bad choice and what he was most upset about. (We live five blocks (1/2 mile) from the hospital and it's only another 10 blocks to the movie theatre.)

My fingertip sewed back on
It was a busy day in the Polson ER, but I didn't have a long wait before the doctor came in, shot up my finger with novocaine, and had me wash it. I was fine until then. But when she had me walk to the sink and scrub my hand and stump (okay, long stump--I didn't lose that much!), I got hot, nauseated and light-headed and had to lie down. In my defense, I had eaten anything all day and it was A LOT of blood (and gore. Think the slices of people that they have in the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park in Chicago...) The doctor finished cleaning the finger up and then sewed the tip back on with six stitches. I didn't feel a thing. She said the nail bit would fall off on its own and she didn't want to pry it off .When she was done she said to take ibuprofen for the pain, then the nurse bandaged me up, gave me a tetanus shot with a whooping cough vaccine in it, and they sent me on my merry way.

When I got home I still had half an hour before I had to go get Dave from the movies so I thought I would finish the pickles. The first step was to wash the mandoline--not to use it, mind you. I had already decided to use a knife for the rest of the cutting--perfection be damned. However when I turned it upside down I saw that there was blade storage underneath, and in it was a wavy pickle blade! I could not resist. I gave in to the temptation and switched out the blades vowing to be VERY CAREFUL and to go slowly. That mostly worked out for me. I say "mostly" because when I was almost at the end of the cucs, my hand slipped and I rammed my thumb and middle finger into the blade. I didn't cut through or slice off anything so I just bandaged the fingers up, washed the mandoline off again, and calmly cut the rest of the cucs. When I was done I washed the mandoline, salted and refrigerated the cucs, and headed off to get Dave.

After taking the bandaids off
the index and thumb
When we got home I (against his wishes) cut the remaining cucumbers up into spears for garlic dills and salted and refrigerated them. I didn't take any pain reliever in pill form, but Dave did make me a rhubarb sour from the extra rhubarb syrup that didn't fit into the jars to can (as noted above). He had one too (probably to steady his nerves--a side effect of being married to me) and they were so good that we opened one of the jars of rhubarb syrup so we could each have another!

After dinner I made the brine and jarred up the pickles before processing them (and the lone jar of morels) in hot water baths. Now it's after 11, I am still not in pain, and I am toddling off to bed for a well-deserved rest. Oh, and I've decided what to call my pickles: Brenda's Bloody Good Pickles!


Bill said...

There is a reason that your loving husband wanted to vet you on the use of the hardware.

There is also a reason that he needs to self-medicate with ethanol.

Brenda Griffith said...