Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Battle Tomato

I lost the battle today. The 8 tomato plants I have in the back finally, in the last week, produced more tomatoes than I could consume before they went bad. I had to break down this morning and can some. I peeled and seeded a pile and they are now cooling in jars. Though not the same as fresh I will still get to enjoy them later when all the fresh tomatoes are nothing but a memory.

The evolution did bring back some memories of my grandmother putting up quart after quart of tomatoes, peaches, beans, jellies and jams and all of her glorious pickles. There were always bread&butter, dills, sweet relish, chow-chow, pickled okra, dill green beans, pickled hot peppers and her famous icicle pickles. Some years there was also pickled water melon rind. By the end of the season there were hundreds of jars lined up in the basement all carefully labeled and ready for winter. I can still see her in the kitchen surrounded by jars and produce with the steam rolling out of the water bath canner and the pressure canner whistling away.

Not only did my grandfather put in a big garden every year but Mrs. LaRue would show up in her old Chevy pick-up with bushel baskets of garden truck on a regular basis. She and her family had a small farm up the creek and put the rich bottom land to good use. In addition, she would bring a few dozen fresh eggs that had just been gathered, fresh country butter and the occasional jar of honey from her bees. The people up in the hills of Virginia didn't eat fancy but what they had was fresh and plentiful and many times organic because they didn't have the money for expensive fertilizer and pesticides. Most of them had lived through the depression and made sure to preserve everything they could for leaner times plus they were frugal as well.

You can still eat close to the land in most of Europe or for that matter the rest of the world, but it is a big challenge here in the U.S. to do so and we are the poorer for it.

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