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Gardening and Preserving: Food for the Soul

I am tired. Or old. Maybe I am old. Maybe I am old and tired but hopefully not cranky.

It has been a long and beautiful gardening and canning summer. I love backyard gardening and I love to preserve that which I grow and forage. I love to cook. I love to eat. This whole food production thing is good for my soul but now I am tired.

This week’s preservation adventures included 10 pints caramelized onions, 7 pints pear syrup, 8 pints corn cob broth (I ate the corn!), and a batch of end of the season blackberry jam. My dehydrator ran nonstop while the canner canned. Dehydrated yums include tomatoes, apples, assorted varieties of peppers, mushrooms, mixed garden veggies, and backbreaking pounds of potato slices and hash browns. I am a spud gal. No apologies. I love-a my spuds. The final spud harvest is curing on my living room floor. The final 5 pounds of tomatoes are still drying. The last of the tomato seeds are fermenting, the pepper seeds are drying, and the beans are begging to be picked. I think I will let those mature into shelly beans. I won’t let them dry; I will shell them plump and delicious and freeze them for fall eating. Oops! I need to let a few beans dry to use as seeds next spring.

The garden is put mostly to rest for the winter. A few still producing tomato plants are left standing along with the last of the beans. The late seeded lettuce is promising October greens. Fall planting can rest for a few weeks and then I am back in the dirt and rain to bury garlic for next summer and spuds for January and seed potatoes for March. It never ends.

It sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? And it is! Gardening and food preserving are a lot of work. But the work is not toil. It is soul nurturing, back to basics, heart centered movement that keeps me healthy. I can’t think of anything more practical than growing, foraging, and preserving my own food. Think of it as doing the work upfront for easier after work I am too tired to cook winter meals.

A favorite I am too tired to cook meal consists of opening a pint of canned meat, make a gravy out of the juices, add the meat and warm thoroughly. This is delicious served over rice or noodles but my favorite is to fry up a pint of home grown canned potatoes. I love frying my potatoes in the chicken schmaltz I put aside when canning chicken. Salt the spuds liberally as they fry then pour the meat and gravy over for a near perfect meat and potatoes dinner. Veggies? Easy. Grab a package of frozen garden beans out of the freezer and heat in your favorite way. Or grab a pint of veggies off your pantry shelf and heat. There! Two dinners are now cooked. I am only one person. I will eat tonight and tomorrow night and maybe even a lunch then next day. Easy! Peasy!

I am tired. I am older than I used to be. I am not cranky. I am relieved to have food put up and ready to feed me all winter long. If you did not plant a garden, then consider planting next summer. Start planning now and order your seeds the morning after the ball drops in Times Square on December 31.

Dessert? That is another blog. Who doesn’t love dessert?


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