A lot of Denver Craft Ninja projects start out as hair-brained plans over cocktails or daydreams cooked up from the desk of my day job.
I envision Ninjas crowded around a table learning something cool and I settle in imagining how fun it will be – however, when the logistics must be sorted out the whole scene goes from perfect to lagged down with practical planning about space, materials, and cost.
But the dreaming is the best part and, when everything comes together just right, the dream actually becomes reality.
Our little canning project turned out that way – perfect.
Of course, the whole plan started out with Ellen Daehnick and Helliemae’s Salt Caramels! Ellen invited the Ninjas into her factory ‘o caramely goodness and offered to teach the ins and outs of canning & quick pickling. And if you’ve met Ellen, you’re aware of her charm, wit, and just how much that lady has it together. She shared her resources, skills, and commercial kitchen for this hands on project. As Ninjas crowded around tables wincing from the overpowering scent of vinegar boiling, I realized that it’s relationships like the one the Ninjas share with Ellen that make our group so darn special.
Ellen lead us through some fundamentals of canning – it’s important to have some guidelines while handling molten mango, boiling water, and threat of knife accidents and botulism. As we worked through our recipes, combining ingredients, and sipping beers, we were learning that canning isn’t actually that complicated. It’s a process. And, if you have all your materials, and equipment in place – you’re golden! And the glorious “ping” when your can cools and tells you it’s ready to go onto your pantry shelf – such a satisfying sound. AH!
The quick pickles were an even easier process and, soon, everyone was labeling their own cans of mango chutney and pickles to take home.
We couldn’t leave, though, without tasting our work! So, Jenn grilled us up some brats and tofu dogs and we sampled our chutney. It was, of course, delicious!
Another wonderful project that turned out better than I could ever hoped! Again, the whole thing wouldn’t have taken off without the help of the divine Ellen Daehnick and her generosity in sharing her space at the Helliemae’s Salt Caramel factory. I heartily encourage you to visit the factory during her hangout hours, share a beer with Ellen, and buy her caramels liberally!
Thanks, Ellen! You’re a dream!
I also have to thank my amazingly supportive sister Jennifer. She comes through and lends a hand more and more these days and I’m so grateful to have her enthusiasm about Ninjas and her sweet face in my life.