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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hipsters Man.

So the humble mason jar has become ubiquitous of late and as usual I blame the hipsters. I once saw some hipsters in their native environment (Brooklyn) and they put on their ragged flannel shirts and top hats, rode their fixie bike (shaped like a handlebar mustache) to a pop-up organic brewery where they serve everything in you guessed it, a mason jar.

BUT do not let its hipster hype dissuade you from using a cool and multipurpose item like a mason jar. My mother variously deployed them for use as vases, drinking vessels, desktop organization, to hold pantry staples, as a salad dressing cruet and for actual, you know CANNING long before Pinterest existed to document our lives in dreamy, pastel soft-focus. We always had them around in various sizes for various things as long as I can remember but I don't remember ever using them for salads. If certain corners of the internet are to be believed a mason jar's (or Ball jar, or canning jar or whatever you call them) highest purpose is to provide a sog-free salad for your afternoon repast.

There are literally dozens and dozens of salad jar recipes out there and as in everything else that exists in the wilds of cyberspace there there are passionate devotees and just as passionate detractors.

A Random Dude:
what is gained from putting salad into a mason jar instead of tupperware. hipsters...

Other Lady:
I'm far from a hipster. They are so much easier to layer - the ingredients are protected and the dressing doesn't get all over the lettuce (which is what makes the lettuce soggy). Most tupperware type containers are wide - no way to keep a salad for a week, which is what these jars do. No lie, I made a week's worth of salads and the last one is just as good as the first.

There's One on Every Article:
Mason jars used to be for canning moonshine when I was kid, now its some sort of healthy eating communist-pinko socialist agenduh, tjanks OBAMA!!11!!

My own feeling on mason jars is this, only use one when it is the right tool for the job. Don't buy a double walled insulted plastic "mason jar" with a handle on it. They make stuff like that already, it's called a travel mug. There's no reason to cutesy it up. I feel the same way about hipsters, actually. When I was broke kid wearing clothes with holes in them, it was because I was legitimately too poor to buy new pants. I wasn't being fashionable. Commodifying and making a consumerist fashion statement out of the trappings of poverty and frugality kinda righteously pisses me off. My Mom used to pick prickly cactus pads out of the woods behind our house and pickle and can them, not because it was some sort of fun hobby, (though I think she DID enjoy it) but because we were pretty poor. The time she made us pine needle baskets for Easter was because we were broke and she used what she had on hand to make us something special. So use your mason jars, but remember that they are a tool used world-wide by people who are frugally preserving their food to last for leaner times ahead. Their value lies in their utility and function and of course like most functional items they are truly beautiful.

/End Rant

So how did my consumerist trendy salad come out? Pretty typically for me, I was unable to find the component parts to my Mason jar. I found the jar and the ring okay, but I hunted high and low for the lid and it was nowhere to be found. So what's a blogger who promised a mason jar salad to do? I used my Ball Brand freezer "canning" jar instead. This is not the layered glass masterpieces of Pinterest, but it has the same functionality of a standard canning jar in it's shape. It is easily portable and because it is a nearly uniform tube from top to bottom it keeps the ingredients well separated for maximum salad crispiness. In fact the slight bell at the top gave me more room for greens while it helped keep my dressing on the bottom. I need to work on the proportions though, I used too many baby carrots and it didn't leave enough room for greens.

My salad, decanted onto a plastic plate from the upstairs kitchen, would never win a beauty pageant, but the greens were crunchy, the mixture of candied walnuts (recipe below), shredded cheddar and raisins gave sweetness, creaminess, crunch and protein to my meal and the ginger dressing from Makotos (if you are from Melbourne there can be only one) gave a tangy snap to the whole thing.

Decision? Mason jar salads are a keeper!

Tomorrow's Pinteresting life challenge, to (wear) an infinity scarf! AND BEYOND!

Candied Walnuts on the Stove Top

Pour some (1/4 cup?) sugar into a saute pan, heat over medium heat, when sugar starts to caramelize remove from heat and throw in a handful of walnut halves or pieces, stirring quickly to coat. If sugar hardens too much, put back on the stove to soften briefly. You can also add a pinch (a literal pinch!) of cayenne pepper to get some hot/sweet walnuts. You could also use pecans in this recipe.

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