Our living more like the past brings me to spending more time in the kitchen. We all have to eat but today many people eat food that has been prepared by someone else.
This is canning season and old fashioned canning is not popular today as it was in the past because freezing is much easier. However, we work very hard growing our food and very hard to pay for the food we purchase at the store so if the power goes out we risk the loss of all of our freezer food. I do not like that risk so I am going back to canning like we did in the past.
There is a lot of preparation to preserving so it is a patience thing. We just have to make time to do these kinds of things to get the outcome that we want and this is what one of the problems we have today.
Our priorities are all mixed up.
I have fallen off the priority wagon too. A while ago I started on the easy road and like many purchased prepared foods along with the non sensible spending and just accepted the higher costs. Much food was easy to prepare which meant processed and often it was eating out. I started freezing food instead of canning and at least I was preserving a few things and then I stopped doing either but now I see things different.
If we want to eat healthy and keep food in our pantry to weather the storms we have to take it upon ourselves to buckle down and get it right. For us I feel that when we go through the effort and work that is required for canning our own food the satisfaction of knowing that we know what we put in that jar is worth the work it takes to do so.
We try to grow at least a little bit of something in our small yard but If we don't grow our own food we can go to farmers markets and be very particular about purchasing our food. We can ask questions and pick what is best.
Today I need to go out to the garden and pick vegetables to add to these vegetables that I have been picking this week and I will make jam and relish with what is coming in from our small garden. We will go to the farmers market to purchase the vegetables that we do not grow or have enough of. My goal for this year is to have a winter pantry with delicious vegetables and meat that we canned ourselves as they did in the past.
I will make small batches of relish and jam today. I just picked these blueberries pictured above yesterday but I have frozen several bags the last few weeks to hold them over until I had enough to make jam and conserve so I will get them out and add them to this.
For a small garden green tomatoes can be added to relish. There are several more ready to pick out in the garden now. I strictly use the Ball canning books and the recipes in the ball books.
Our pepper plants are doing well at this time so that will be another thing to preserve, some things I dehydrate and some things I can and some things I do both such as peppers.
Cucumbers can pile up on you before you know it so have a plan how you will preserve your cucumbers even if you have a small garden. If we don't have enough to make pickles we might have enough to make cucumber relish. Always remember to check your ball canning book to see if it is canned in a water bath canner or a pressure canner.
When modern times came we were sold modern cars and electric refrigerators and then freezers. Our food became more processed and easy and we lost our way. Now if we have some kind of emergency where our grid is down many people are in trouble. Why should we let ourselves get in that situation when we do not have to.
Last week I mentioned a conversation that I had with a family member that had an old ice box like ours many years ago and she told me how they got ice for the ice box.
This week I had a conversation with another family member that grew up living without electricity. They had an old ice box too and they got ice for it when the ice truck ran and if he had ice. When there was no ice they just didn't have it and they would put their milk down in the well to keep it cool. Living in the south is quite different than living in up north where people had ice houses and would cut their ice out of the lakes. We discussed the old days and about food and I pondered a great deal on that for the next two days. I realize how drastically we have changed.
In the southern US ( in our area) where we live we ate more vegetables and less meat and when we did eat meat it was often cooked in something such as bacon or fat meat in peas or greens. Cornbread and biscuits were more common than loaf bread.
In the spring and summer we ate fresh corn and the corn was most likely creamed corn, (later on corn on the cob) peas, tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes, squash, okra, onions. In the cooler weather it was turnips, collards and mustard greens and it would have bits of meat cooked in it. A meat dish would be chicken and dumplings or ham and egg pie but when we talk about living without electricity the meat was not near as often and cheese was a treat.
When I was growing up we picked fruit often. We would pick blackberries, plums and when peaches and pears were in season those were big favorites. My mothers two favorite seasonal foods were peaches and pecans. I do enjoy peaches and when I can get fresh pears and fresh peppers at the same time I love to make pear relish.
Sweet Potatoes would be coming in around September, October and November. Sweet potatoes is around 4 months from when the slips were planted and we have always enjoyed sweet potatoes. Many people like to can them with sugar but I like them without sugar.
Lemons, satsumas and oranges are harvested in the fall.
I am trying to keep all of this in mind and get back to basics. We have so much variety now it is easy to get lost in what is basic. We try to keep something growing in our garden all year around. It might not be a big sustainable garden but many times there is enough to make a pot of soup, or a vegetable stir fry or like yesterday grilled eggplant, zucchini and rice with preserved lemons and that is a good thing.
You can bring back traditions and food from the past too, we all eat different types of food and have different traditions. Here in the USA we are a very large country and we have many different food growing zones which creates quite a variety of different family food and traditions but one similar thing is they had to preserve their food and often it was canning, salting, smoking and dehydrating.