Wednesday, July 25, 2007

fresh picked produce

This past weekend, we went on down to Reedley, to my wife's folk's house. Being that it is the month of July, and her father is a gardening fiend, a trip to their house is like a trip to the market. As usual, we picked stuff for a few hours before packing the car and heading back home, this time resulting in a whopping 111 pounds of produce. Which come to think of it, is about half of our all time biggest load.

While visiting, I was speaking with my father in-law about our recent jam adventures and intentions of preserving stuff from this trip. He mentioned some of the things his mom used to "put up," including elderberry and blueberry when the berries had a good year. His reference to putting up food struck a chord with me. It reminded me of being very small and wandering into my grandma's pantry to stare at the multi-colored glass jars filled with food. He meant preserving and putting on the shelf for storage too, and coming from a child of the depression, this was something nearly everyone did. It wasn't considered liberal, or hippy or new age. You weren't considered weird or even strange in the least bit. You had an excess of a particular kind of food, so you feasted on it and then preserved it for later. No contemplating whether you needed to, or should. No pledging to folks that you would. You just did it.

So are we. I guess that makes me a child of the depression. Only this one is defined as the time when we forgot for the most part, how to grow, prepare and preserve our own food. We rely on others for our processed food needs, keeping the source obscured, cheap and distant, resulting in a massive depression of another kind marked by excess filled with emptiness.

As I write this, we have golden ketchup, seasoned tomato sauce and dried figs. There are peaches to jam, dry, or cut up for freezing. Plums to eat. Not pictured was corn and carrots. There were a number of white onions. That paper bag was half filled with green bell peppers and these light yellow, medium-hot kindamagigs. After picking up a pork roast, tomatillos and jalapeƱos yesterday, I've been having fun with chile verde in grandma's test kitchen today, and the aroma is making me weep with happiness.

Keeping this one short today, so I gotta go. Gotta stir, peel, chop. Salt and boil. Try not to burn the hell out of myself in the process. A lot of work, that will be yummy later. September and beyond is going to be delicious.

Time to put up.


K & S said...

What great point you make about getting back to basics and what a huge bounty you received! I'm jealous :)

Kevin said...

The problem with preserving is you need space to store the preserves. I've thought about it a great deal because preserving is right down my alley, but the plain fact is I no place to store jars of tomato sauce or peach preserves or frozen corn.

When I tell people this they think, surrely you're exagerating. But no, I moved into an 1100 square foot condo from a 1600 square foot house and every closet and cabinet is stuffed to the gills.{sigh}

cookiecrumb said...

You rock.

Rev. Biggles said...

Oh Kevin. My 2 bedroom house is 861 sq ft. You clearly need to prioritize. Do you have a table where you can eat? That needs to go. Any soft sitting things like sofas? Outta here. Computer desk with phone and note pads? History pal. You need to set your bed up as your place to relax and watch tv, compute and serve your friends their foods. It's all about priorities, buddy.

Oh, and Mr. Wrangler? My mowf is all hyped out after viewing your kill. Nicely done!


Monkey Wrangler said...

K&S: If you are ever over on my side of the pacific, I'll gladly share.

Kevin: We too are lacking in space. Our garage is really too small for a vehicle, but is already packed, especially now. Maybe we'll consider moving the kids into the shed out back so we can have our pantry closer to the kitchen......

Cookie: Thanks!
(October! November! December!)

Irreverend: Thanks for setting Kevin straight on that one. And thanks for the compliments. I'll save you some jam. Maybe you could put in on some bacon? Wait.........bacon flavored jam! Yeah, yeah! Well, I'm off to the dungeon for some experiments.