Thursday, September 25, 2008

Preservation

So, I'm LDS, and I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I'm a gardener, and I sometimes do homey kinds of domestic sorts of things.

Like canning and freezing food.

I have a friend on Long Island who is interested in survival techniques. He once started a book about what would happen were there a meltdown of the power grid along the eastern seaboard. Unfortunately, he experienced a health meltdown and hasn't written much since then.

But he's interested in storing food up for just such a possibility, and I taught him how to can tomatoes. Over email. At midnight.

That's neither here nor there. The thing is, I look at myself, and who I am, and what I do, and I can't get a mental picture of myself being the kind who would DO something like that. I mean, I get this image of Edna Mae Hoggit carrying her little basket of prize-winning jams and jellies over her arm--the perfectly coifed old lady do, the knee-length button down the front dress, the low heels, the hat with fruit and flowers on the band. THAT'S what I think of when I think of a woman who puts up peaches and beans and tomatoes and such.

That is SO not me. Not to mention it's dangerous--hell on the body, I tell you.

But I do. With help, of course. My wonderful hubby does more than I do, most of the time. I use him for his bulging muscles, you see. And his ability to put in late nights on ocassion without becoming completely useless--unlike me. Because sometimes it takes late nights waiting for the jars to process in the hot water bath.

It's hard work! Your feet and back are cramped with pain by the time you've spent 8 or 9 hours bending over a sink, scalding and peeling nectarines, or shoving tomatoes into bottles, lifting heavy pots of water for processing, etc.

But we do it. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I sure do enjoy the results.

Anyway, we froze nectarines today. We got about 4 bushels off our tree. We gave some away to neighbors. The rest we're chopping up, putting in bags, and freezing. I got, oh, 1/3 of them done today. I don't know when I'm going to have time to do the rest. Maybe a few tomorrow, a few the next day. We're also drying them.

Last week we did 50 or so quarts of tomatoes, and we'll probably put up a few more as our garden starts winding down. We froze a few beans, bottled elderberry jelly and syrup. We still have concord grapes to bottle, and we'll probably end up freezing squash, beets, and chard. Some neighbors give us Italian plums every year. I want to dry a bunch of those and make some jam, and my daughter wants to make plum cake. She NEEDS to make plum cake. It's her single most important goal for the year.

No pickles or salsa this year. We have enough pickles to last us another year or so, and our salsa supply should hold us through until next fall.

It's nice to have all that done--the bottles gleaming and colorful on the shelf, the anticipation of tasting the fruits of summer in the midst of winter. But the thought of what I still have to do is somewhat daunting.

Sometime or other I need to see the chiropractor--all that lifting and bending has done my lower back in. I told you it was dangerous.

4 comments:

Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury said...

Good for you, Suzanne!

My husband does salsa every year with all the excess tomatoes that we can't eat fast enough, and then he puts it on everything I cook for the rest of the year. Kind of dampens my incentive to cook interesting stuff....

Holly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Holly said...

Suzanne, way to go! Keep it up and pretty soon your garden will be empty and your shelves will be full! I'm so impressed that you do so many different things. I don't think I've ever tasted chard. What do you do with it? Plum cake sounds good!

Suzanne Vincent said...

Kathleen, my favorite way to eat our salsa is added to our southern style pork spare ribs recipe. For some reason, the added salsa makes the meat much more tender and adds a great flavor without tasting like it has salsa in it.

Holly,

Chard is a kind of buttery tasting green. It's really quite good--not tart like some or bitter like others. You just chop the stems up, rip the leaves into manageable size pieces and boil or steam it. You can also eat it fresh as a salad green, though for salad purposes the stems should be fairly young. Otherwise they're a bit tough.

Remind me through email and I'll send you the recipe for plum cake.