Remember the children's book Something from Nothing? In the book, Joseph's grandfather makes him a blanket. Then the blanket becomes too worn and his mother says it should be thrown away, but Joseph's grandfather says he has just enough material to make a jacket. Then as Joseph grows up, the jacket turns into a vest, a tie and then a handkerchief. Eventually, he thinks he has nothing; however, he ends up with a story to share with everyone. The book is actually based on a Jewish folk tale that shows you can always make "something out of nothing."
Last weekend, I came across a headboard on the side of the road that did not look like much. I dragged it down the street and into my house and decided to add some new life to it. Actually, it didn't take too much effort at all. I bought some paint and didn't even have to sand or prime the board that much.
After three or four coats of furniture paint, it looked brand new. The dated, crackled white and flower design was gone and replaced with a new headboard to match our teal, grey and yellow colour scheme. I had a discussion over the weekend that you're officially an adult when you have a real grownup headboard for your bed. You no longer have a single bed that is slightly uncomfortable with ugly flower sheets and thick wool blankets. You have a real bed with a headboard, bed skirt and even two sets of matching sheets. That real bed also has a bed frame and is not just a mattress on the floor.
I didn't buy the headboard, but I did re-purpose it. Does that count? I took something that was nothing to someone and made it something for me. And all for less than $30, which was much less than what I was thinking of paying for a new wooden headboard.
I feel that way about home sometimes. You take little things or things that don't seem like much and make them into something meaningful. I have lived in some interesting places in my time (I'm talking about student accommodations) and you really have to stretch your imagination to make things cozy sometimes. There are things I bring with me to every place and there are the things from these places that grow on me. I haven't had the chance to grow my own garden yet. I think that's another milestone of adult life; that moment you have a garden and a place to grow. I have friends with gardens and received a gigantic zucchini awhile back. The neat thing about canning is you take one thing--or a few things--and make it into something you can keep for awhile.
This zucchini relish is colourful, tangy and a little bit spicy. You can make so many different things with this versatile green vegetable, including relish, pickles, salsa and when you have some leftover, zucchini bread.
Zucchini Relish (from "Canning: Better Homes and Gardens")
Makes 5 half-pints
5 cups chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
3/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
In a large bowl or pot combine zucchini, onions and peppers. Sprinkle with the salt and toss to coat. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and allow to stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
Transfer vegetable mixture to a colander in the sink and rinse with cold water and then drain. In an 8-10 quart pot, combine the sugar, vinegar, 1/4 cup of water and spices. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable mixture and return to boiling. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the hot relish into sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Process filled jars in a canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from the canner and let cool.
Canning is also a great money saver and lets you preserve bounties of food for years. Plus, it's a piece of home, whether it's something you picked from your garden or something you found at your local market, you always know it means something. Joseph would not be disappointed.