Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 3- food and family

Today was all about working together.  One of the joys of having moved near enough to my parents to visit on a regular basis is that I can learn things that I never would have.  For example- last year we froze enough fresh peaches, strawberries and corn that I am STILL using them when I have a hankering for them.  This season we have already done my whole year's worth of corn.  Mom and Dad do theirs when they have time and then when I come down, Mom does mine with me so that she can show me and work with me so I get it right. 

Today was tomato juice.  If you have never had "real" (aka fresh- not out of a can) tomato juice- you are so missing out. It is so far superior in terms of flavor than the canned stuff could ever be.   Last week, mom canned tomato juice for her house and also made and canned homemade salsa- which is delicious.  She saved enough tomatos so that this weekend, I could learn to and put up my own tomato juice.  It is just delicious.  We use it to drink, to make soups, to make "goulash"- you name it.  Now I have my own "stock" of it and I am thrilled. 

The important thing about this for me is not that I am stocking up my pantry- though that doesn't hurt.  It is that this is something that my mom did with her mom, and Granny did with her mom- and so on.  I come from a long line of farmers and gardners.  Even if they didn't have a traditional farm- the different family members grew enough of their own fruits and veggies to can and freeze for over the winter.  I can still picutre- down in Gran's celler, shelves FULL of diced tomatos, green beans, corn, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and other veggies.  What she didn't grow, she would trade her surplus with someone who had a surplus of their veggies.  Learning to can that juice this afternoon made me feel like she was right there with us.  It keeps me connected to my family and my heritage and that is priceless. 

After we finished the tomato juice- Mom decided she wanted to make a cobbler out of her peaches before they go bad.  While she blanched them we visited and then while she was peeling I stepped in to help by making the batter for the crust.  At some point in this- Dad came up and started slicing the peeled peaches.  When we ate that cobbler tonight after dinner- we were eating a true family effort. 

After that we all lay down to take a nap but I could not get to sleep.  I decided to go ahead and run to the store to get batteries for my camera.  I asked Mom and Dad if they needed anything and they each had an item that they wanted so off I went.  While I was in the car, I decided that my gift for today would be the items that they asked me to pick up (I refused their money)  and also a gift of my homemade guacomole to go with Mom's homemade salsa.  They also really like (and I do as well since they had me try them this morning) the Archer Farms Organic corn tortilla chips from Target.  So I added that stop to my trip.  It always takes me half of forever in the grocery because I enjoy myself there, but I think I even took a little longer today because I found myself really lingering over the different ingredients because I wanted it to be just perfect since it was my gift to them. 

This evening my aunt and uncle came over (they live in Illinois and popped in to town for the weekend) and brought my grandmother with them so we could all go out to dinner.  That is usually a fairly stressful thing for me because I find it difficult to be overly "nice" to my grandmother.  There are a large number of things that I blatently do not like about the woman but the top of the list is how she treats my parents.  I only wish all of the people who think she is "just the most LOVELY woman"- knew her home face rather than the snow job public face she puts on. I decided that- for my own peace of mind and out of respect for my parents- I would give her a gift this evening- the gift of civility.  I sat next to her at dinner, I made conversation, I was perfectly polite.  It didn't hurt me one bit- and I am sure that she didn't even realize it because I try very hard to be polite to her- but it was a stretch.  My middle sister "liked" a quote the other day on facebook that said something to the effect of "Being nice to someone you don't like isn't being two-faced, it's called being a grown up."  I couldn't help but think of that over and over again during the meal and dessert. 

It was a beautiful day here today.  The gift I received was that of a gorgeous, temperate, sunny late summer/early fall afternoon.  Perfect weather for sitting outside or on the sunporch with a cup of coffee and watching the dogs chase squirrels and birds and then spending the afternoon learning to put up tomato juice with mom. 

The only downer to the day was that I started having shooting pains from my TMJ to my shoulder.  This particular site is becoming painful more and more frequently.  What I am very grateful for is that Mom and Dad had one of those horseshoe shaped travel pillows in the car because it helps to relieve the pain to lay down with one, and that Mom had Tiger Balm patches in the linen closet.  Tiger Balm- which my child turned me on to- stinks to high heaven but I cannot say enough about how well it works on any and all muscle pain.  I am just very grateful that Mom kept the patches and the balm even though she is not a huge fan, because for me, it blows BenGay and IcyHot and the like way out of the water.  After 30-45 minutes- I started feeling quite a bit of relief.  Now- it's time for bed.  Tomorrow is another day and I have my gift already planned.  :-) 

1 comment:

Wren said...

What a truly fine way to spend a day, Jules! I've never done any canning, though my grandmother and one of my aunts did. My grandma never offered to pass the skill on, but then I never asked her to. My aunt did, though. I'd come for a visit (as a young adult) and she greeted me with a steamy kitchen, a table-full of canning jars, and box after box of pickle cucumbers. She just figured since I was going to be there, it would be a good day to put up her yearly stock of dill pickles -- I'd be captive help. This was in late summer in California's Central Valley, and it was dreadfully hot. I gotta tell you -- I was furious at being roped into this sweaty, dull chore. And I really can't remember much of anything, today, about the process of canning all those pickles. Anyway....

I'm glad that you get so much joy out of doing it, and glad that you've found such a wonderful way to both appreciate the gifts of each day and give a few of your own at the same time. Bravo!