Posts tagged ‘unemployment’

Big City Pioneers Are: Employed!

Welcome to my new weekly feature! Every week I will attempt to explain what being a Big City Pioneer means to me.

This week, though is special, because finally, this Big City Pioneer is employed! I feel totally blessed because I was only unemployed for a month, and I know there are many people out there who have been looking for work for much longer than that. I also feel blessed because I am working at one of my all-time favorite stores – Half Price Books. Not to go all advertisement on you, but have you ever been to Half Price Books? It’s amazing. I now work at a store who’s motto is: “Waste Not, Read A Lot.” Really, that might as well be my personal motto.

That brings me to the real “Big City Pioneers Are:” Part of the post. Here it is. You ready?

Big City Pioneers Are: Used Stuff Purchasers

Big City Pioneers try to reduce their waste. Can you imagine how much paper is used yearly to print new books? I looked it up and couldn’t find a statistic, but I can tell you this – it’s a lot. According to The EPA, more than 2 billion books and 350 million magazines are published each year. The “greenest” way to read is definitely the library – but the second most sustainable way to read is to buy and sell used books.

This philosophy of buying used extends into many other aspects of your life. The Boyfriend and I rarely buy new clothes. Instead we shop at places like Buffalo Exchange, The Goodwill, and other used clothing stores. Buying used clothes can be fun and exciting, like being on your own personal treasure hunt. Brooklyn-based designer Jessi Arrington gave a TED talk on this great idea – check it out:

I also buy most of my housewares, furniture, and kitchen supplies used – again, at The Goodwill, and a few other local thrift stores. Last fall I bought a TV stand from Ikea and my friend joked that it was the first piece of new furniture I had ever bought – except once I thought about it, I realized she was right, and it wasn’t a joke. Every other piece of furniture I own was given to me by a friend or family member, found on freecycle, or bought secondhand.

In addition to reducing the amount of waste we create, buying used items saves us a lot of money. If you, like me and The Boyfriend, are affected by the current economic recession, or if you just want to save money, buying used is the way to go. Ma Ingalls would agree.


Tomato season

So, I’ve been MIA from the blog world lately. I’ve been really busy, being unemployed.

Well, only for the last week. Before that, I have no excuse. Sorry. I’ll try to do better. There’s a rhythm to this blogging thing that I haven’t quite gotten down yet. Which is dumb, considering how much time I spend on the internet.

So yes, unemployment. I will be the first to admit that I am not good at having vast amounts of “downtime.” A weekend to relax, read, and ignore the real world is great, but start expanding that beyond two days at a time and I get itchy. I’m the kind of person who takes hikes for vacation. Sitting still makes me nervous.

First day of unemployment – I rearranged the furniture in The Little Apartment in the Big City. Second day, I went to our Wednesday Farmer’s Market and bought 25 pounds of tomatoes.

That's a lot of tomatoes.

It being one of the hottest days of the summer, I decided to do some canning. Because the tomatoes were “seconds” – meaning there were some splits and spots to remove, I decided that making canned crushed tomatoes would be my best bet. It’s a pretty simple process, but because of the sheer quantity, it takes a lot of time.

First, you have to remove the skins from the tomatoes.

Immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds

A quick dip in an ice bath

Remove the loosened peels, and you have naked tomatoes!

After cutting the tomatoes into smaller pieces, they have to be boiled.  I mashed about 2 cups of the tomatoes with a potato masher, and let the heat and acid “crush” the rest.


Then, more boiling water! Put the tomatoes in the jars and process.

My directions said to process the jars for 30 minutes. I had to do several batches, so this is definitely the most time-consuming part of the process.

This is a good time to have lunch. Remember lunch? You’re supposed to eat it.

Most of my jars I just put salt and lemon juice in, but I added some spices (basil and oregano) to a few jars. I’m not sure how much difference it will make when I use the tomatoes, but it might be nice to have a head start on marinara sauce.

The finished product: 17 pints of crushed tomatoes, and a kitchen that looked like I murdered Chef Boy-ar-dee. Now, to find a place to put them…

Ta-Da! 17 pints of tomatoes

Big City Pioneers Tomato Top Three Canning Tips:

1: Give yourself enough time. It’s really not that much work, but it does take a lot of time. You don’t want to feel rushed.

2: Stay hydrated. It’s hot work. You are spending the day standing over pots of boiling water, and it always feels like it’s the hottest day of the year.

3: Relax! It’s fun. There are a few important rules to follow, but for the most part it’s simple, easy work. Put on some music and enjoy yourself.

I used the recipe for crushed tomatoes from my trusty copy of The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, but there are lots of other great canning resources out there. Just make sure to follow the processing directions exactly, because you want to make sure your food is safe. Another great resource for canning information is the National Center for Food Preservation.

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