I have been a slacker and I am sorry. As August is “Month of Happiness”, there is MUCH to be happy about as we near harvest season in many parts of the country. Here are some thoughts…
Back in the dark ages (haha) farming was a way to feed one’s own family. You ate what you could fresh and then you preserved what you could and if you couldn’t preserve it, you THEN sold or bartered whatever was left for other goods for your house. The same was true for hunting and animal husbandry. “Farm to Table” was a way of LIFE not a catchy menu phrase or marketing option.
Growing up in upstate NY on the Hudson River there were farms and farm stands galore. My family owned one. We grew what was easy to grow and sold it, just like everyone else and I can promise you that I ate more than my fair share of zucchini (Moment of Truth – there are some members of my family that STILL won’t eat squash). We did “farm to table” because it was cheap and relatively easy. Did we always LIKE what we ate? No, but we were brought up to eat what was put in front of us (Moment of Truth – I despise those parents who cook 3 meals every night NOT due to food allergies, but “because this kid won’t eat this, and that kid won’t eat that”…they’d starve in my house).
What was a way of life, and continues to be a way of life for many in the world, has become a catch phrase for trendy seasonal dining. Because everyone is so focused on fresh produce, people frequently forget that part of the “farm to table” model includes preserving food for later use. My Mom canned, pickled, and made jelly and jam. I find it mildly shocking to type that, because her favorite thing to make for dinner these days is reservations. I am forever ruined for grape jelly because all of them taste too sweet to me after Mom’s version using concord grapes that were grown on our property. I remember her canning on an open fire – yes, really – in a concrete block fire pit because that was the only place large enough to hold the canning pot. I have learned to preserve food beyond the freezer and I take great pride in knowing that I can my own food. I love the little “plink” sound when the jars seal. As I write, I am eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s Bountiful Basket Co-op delivery. I have a case of Hatch green chiles and a case of corn coming. I am thinking corn relish, canned corn, charred chiles frozen for later use, pickled peppers and of course eating a bunch fresh!
Learn a new skill this year and try canning. Yes, I know it sounds corny (see what I did there?), but it is really satisfying to say, “Yes, I did that!” and hear all the little plinking sounds when the jars seal themselves.
To see what I am eating, follow me on Instagram – all of my food porn shows up there as well as pics of my produce and canning in the next few days. And if you want to know more about the town I grew up near, read this piece, although I can promise you it wasn’t this cool when I lived there.