Remember returning to school in September and being asked to write an essay about what you did over the summer? Some kids went on great vacations or spent the summer with grandparents on a lake or something cool like that. My family lived on a farm. During the summer we grew food and preserved it in a number of ways. My family routinely canned 200 – 400 quarts of any given fruit or vegetable to preserve that food for the winter months when those foods were not available. Canning was a family affair and my younger sister and I were pressed into service by the age of three and this continued each summer until I was about 15. By the time August rolled around, my sister and I were eager to get back to the classroom. Summer on a farm was TOO DANG MUCH WORK!
Ironically (or is that karmically?) I engaged myself with FOUR gardens this summer. I have mentioned them in previous blogs and spoken about the organic vegetable broth I’ve been making from the excess vegetable matter. As the summer progressed, I began to make jam from whatever fruit or berry became available and then I started canning (with the help of my able-bodied assistant, Tomas) — peaches, apples, tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple butter — and one more round of apples coming up. Oh, did I mention pesto and sauerkraut?! We didn’t can that but we did preserve basil and cabbage.
I learned early in life that I had a responsibility to respect and appreciate all forms of food. When you live off the land, as my family did, you learn to take great care in handling the plants and the animals that are to become your meals. You don’t just harvest lettuce or beans and leave them lying around wilting on the counter. No, once you get them into the kitchen, those fresh veggies at least need to be wrapped up or put in a crisper to maximize their freshness.
And so it has been this summer. Three or four days a week I have brought home fresh (and often enormous) vegetables that needed to be washed, sorted, spun dry and bagged up in order to honor the lifeforce they would be giving me and Tomas at some future meal. And because we honored the food, the food has honored us with one exquisite meal after another from May until present — we’re still going strong!
So rather than bore you with further words, I will show you the fruits of my summer labors and ask you to please forgive my absence from the WordPress forum. It’s been a really fun summer for me — extremely fulfilling — and this year I don’t even have to go back to school. How cool is that?!