Today’s post is one of those that I’m sure I get a few raised eyebrows at here and there. It has absolutely nothing to do with fitness. There will be no exercise how to, no recipe, no nutrition lesson, nothing. It is a post though, and you’re already here so you might as well read it!
If you have a garden this year, or if you’ve had one in the past, you understand the phrase ‘coming out my ears’. It applies to zucchini, crookneck squash, green beans, peppers of all kinds and tomatoes about this time of year…ahhh, tomatoes. Personally, I adore tomatoes. Three out of my five kids like them too, which works out pretty good when we get home from the gym late and call dinner tomato sandwiches. Well, except for the two kids who don’t like tomatoes, that is!
The plethora of tomatoes that we are being blessed with right now, is easily enough to make a thousand tomato sandwiches a day (okay, slight exaggeration), which even with five hungry kids, is NOT happening. So, I’ve been making catsup and canning it, which is something my Mom used to do when I was a young girl living at home.
I loved my Mom’s catsup…on pretty much everything. It was the only way she could get me to gag down a hot dog (until the day my Dad told me what actually went into hot dogs and from then on, NOTHING could make me gag them down), the perfect mix in for my mac and cheese and the ONLY dipping option for chicken nuggets in my opinion. Now days, since I’m all grown up I use it a lot differently, but it is STILL my favorite condiment of all time. It’s great on eggs, it makes the best meatloaf and every now and then (shhhh! Don’t tell my kids) I’ll actually take a small spoonful right outta the jar. Yum!
Last week, I made two batches an should get another two or three this week! Woo-hoo! With all this catsup making going on lately, it has really taken me back to my days as a youth. I remember so many summers with Mom and Grandma, and eventually me too, helping in the kitchen (which was always hotter than hell) getting the jars sterilized, the steam from the steam bath rising to the ceiling, the pressure canner making it’s unmistakable noise and all of ,what seemed like chaos at the time, but I now know to be a very specific process going on around me. And in the end, when the kitchen was all cleaned up, cooled off and the countertops were full of all the beautifully colored jars of fruit, veggies, catsup, jams and pickled beets…Mom was always beaming.
At the time, I can remember thinking “Well that was dumb. We spent all that time in a hot and miserable kitchen just to have a few shiny bottles of food to stare at? LAME!” Now, of course, I understand exactly what it was that Mom was always beaming at. She was beaming knowing that in the winter when it was colder than sin outside she could go downstairs and grab a bottle of summer, whether it be peaches, pears, apricots or cherries. She was beaming with the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from doing a job well and the gratification of her hard work. She was beaming at the thoughts of being able to feed her family even if times got tough (which they did) and knowing that she and her efforts had made it possible.
Mom was right, there is an amazing feeling that comes from a counter top full of beautifully colored jars of food, and even more so from knowing that you had something to do with it. When I was a young girl sitting in the kitchen peeling peaches till my fingers wouldn’t move, I never EVER thought I’d can when it was my turn to be the Mom. In fact, I promised myself that as soon as I moved out I’d never have to look at a another canning bottle again…not EVER. And yet, here I am canning catsup, beans, salsa, and I’m going to try apple butter and cinnamon apples this year as well as doing some jam. So not only am I canning but stranger still I. LOVE. IT.
I’m so thankful that my Mom taught me the value of hard work, the beauty of canned food and the joyous sound of a canning bottle sealing. Though she never said “I’m canning this food because I love you”, we all heard it just the same every time we had peaches for breakfast in January. So though it is long overdue; Mom, thanks for teaching me, not only through your words, but through your example.