Monday, June 13, 2011

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Surprise!  I am checking in to update you on the things that have been going on around our house lately.  I promise to post more South Africa pictures soon.  (Hopefully tomorrow!)

I made a purchase last week that if you had asked me about it even three years ago, I would have said 'never'.  It seemed so old fashioned and behind the times to me.  (Thank goodness I was wrong, because now I really need it.)

Last Monday I bought a pressure canner.  Not a pressure cooker...I already have one of those.  I bought an 'old fashioned' pressure canner to help me preserve the fresh veggies that are pouring in from our garden.  I bought a hot water canner last summer and put up several quarts of pickles.  Kosher Dill and Bread & Butter. Yum!

With about forty tomato plants in our garden this year, we are overflowing every few days.  We can only eat so many tomatoes, though we have them at nearly every meal.  We give away veggies to family, friends and employees on a regular basis...and yet, we still have lots of tomatoes.  I wanted to be able to put up some for the winter time venison chili and home made vegetable soups.  So...time to find a pressure canner. 

I have been to Bed, Bath & Beyond; Home Depot; Sam's...every place I could think of.  I finally found one at WalMart Online.  So I took a chance and ran into a store where, 'ta da', I found a whole aisle cap display!  I guess people do still accomplish a few tasks the 'old fashioned way'.

I bought it on Monday, and by Tuesday night, I was canning crushed tomatoes. 

I was also reliving a simpler time.  I would never compare my seven pints of crushed tomatoes to the masses of food that Grandma Fulton put up every summer.  And heaven knows that I have to read and re-read not only the recipes but the canner instructions...but I was transported back to Grandma's kitchen in my memories as soon as that canner began to 'hiss'. 

I could feel the heat bearing down on me and smell the pungent odor of fresh vegetables being blanched and prepared for the process. But it was the sights and sounds from my memory that overwhelmed me.  Above the steady hiss of the canner, I could hear the voices of Grandma and Aunt Fran talking as they worked.  I could hear the old window air unit in the living room and see Grandpa sitting in his recliner; his work of planting, tending and picking done for the day.  As I plunged those tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice water in the sink, I could see the clothes line and the irises with the garden lying just beyond from her kitchen window. 

It is not that she never had to preserve her produce alone...but it was usually a family affair.  From the shelling of the peas, to the husking of the corn...there seemed to always be at least one extra set hands.  Even Meagan and Kelli, who were 4 1/2 & 6 years old when the Good Lord took Grandma home in 1990, remember sitting on her back door step and shelling purple hull peas.  But on canning day, there seemed to always be even more spare hands.

I was prepared for the hard work of preserving a crop.  I just wasn't expecting the emotions that even now 'seep out' at the corners of my eyes.  I am thankful for my 'raisings'...but right now, I feel a million miles from home.  Unfortunately, even if I drove the 8 hours between our home and my hometown today, there would still only be memories to meet me.  Time marches on and things change...but somehow, in this small rural Texas community some 500 miles from that little southeast Arkansas town, things are still the same.

And for that, I choose to be thankful!

This past week's labor produced:
12 jars of blackberry jelly
14 pints of salsa
1 pint of purple hull peas
1 pint of beans
1 pint & 2 quarts of tomato juice (left over from the salsa making)

Plus the squash, peas and green beans I put in the freezer last week.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this summer squash!


Anonymous said...

OH...MY...GOODNESS, you would not believe that I was just telling Allen the other night I missed Grandma's canned tomato sauce. That is what made my spaghetti sauce so great. Now I can't even remember how to make spaghetti sauce. I do miss the canned veggies that we used to prepare every summer and the good times we had talking and laughing. Don't miss the heat though. Even with the air conditioner it was always hot in the kitchen. EVERYONE had purple thumbs by the end of the summer. I didn't appreciate it then, but I do now.


Tammy said...

Enjoyed reading this post! Those are some amazing memories. Makes me want to live on a farm. :)

Brenda said...

Oh my does sound divine there was something magical about canning days was it the all spare hands coming together to pell,slice or wash peaches or was it the sealing of the jars and seeing the labor at the end of a day. You have reminded me of many wonderful times with great women.

Thank you very much