history in jars

I have so many vivid memories of foods from my childhood.  My maternal grandma was a canner.  My grandpa had a huge garden (they lived on a double lot in St. Louis) and it included peach trees.  Every year, my grandma would can peaches and pickles and applesauce along with other things I don't remember quite so well.  I remember getting furry hands from helping to pick peaches.  I remember the sweetness of her sweet pickles.  She was a stern woman, methodical, exacting, German, and not very affectionate.  Looking back on it, canning is probably the best thing she could have done--it was everything she was.  I don't remember her being a great cook, but her pickles were one of my favorite things.  She'd can these amazingly small gherkin pickles.  They'd be covered in sweet juice and she would bring them out for holidays.

Learning to can has been on my to do list for a long time now.  Who doesn't love the look of food in jars?  Seductive colors reaching out to you from clean glass; the shine of the lids.  Maybe it's just me?  I've read countless articles on canning and decided this year I'd make it a priority to can something.  I got a great deal on a lot of organic peaches a few weeks ago and I decided to peel and freeze them.  My friend Kelly came for a visit last week and had canned before.  For some reason I felt more confident having a friend nearby.  We put up a batch of peach butter and the rest is history.

In the past two weeks I've made peach butter, triple berry butter and sweet pickles.  I found a recipe for refrigerator sweet pickles a few years ago that tastes almost exactly like my grandmas.  This year I decided to try water bathing it so that they last a little longer.  I'm hoping for the best.

Canning not only makes me feel like we're getting more out of our garden, but it makes me feel connected to the past.  It's a beautiful way to do something ancient, to feel connected to so many women chefs who have gone before me.  I often think back to the women in my family and what they must have been like.  I try to find ways to honor their traditions in my daily life.  I try to find ways to connect to them and continue their legacy.  I've done this in other ways (my wedding quilt is a great example) and I'm happy to add canning to the list.

If you are new to canning, I've found these websites immensely helpful.  Click here and here.



I'm taking a cue from my girl Nicole today to stop and be thankful for the things in my life and share some of them with you.  Celebrations don't need to be big to be important and I think we could all use a little more celebration in our daily lives.  So, without further ado, here are a few things I've been celebrating lately:

--learning to can.  This has been on my to learn list for years (really that long!) and I finally learned this past weekend when my friend Kelly came to visit me.  In just two days I made peach butter and a triple berry fruit butter...I think I'm hooked!  Today I'm planning to put up some bread and butter pickles!

--taking walks with Justin.  I know it's small, but Justin and I have started going for walks a few times a week.  Well...he walks, I run....and then circle back for him.  It's nice to exercise together, get outside together and know we're both doing something for our health.

--planning our trip to chicago for our one year anniversary.  I'm at once shocked and not shocked at the fact that we've already been married for one year.  This year has been awesome (more on that later) and I'm so excited to celebrate it when a little weekend getaway!

--our sunflowers are finally blooming!  We've been watching these guys all summer and they're finally showing us some love!

--that I have amazing friends who come to visit me.  My friend Kelly and her baby Ione came to visit me this past week and while the visit was pretty short it was so nice to see them.  I haven't seen Kelly since the wedding and this was the first time I got to spend time with her daughter.  The visit was full of ups and downs as any baby visit is, but I'm so thankful she chose to spend her time with me.

--that we're in a place where we can afford to save money.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I'm so grateful that we can afford to save money for things like home renovations and vacations.  I've been reading about Italy and Europe in general for a few weeks now and I feel so fortunate that we have the financial ability to even think about trips like that.

--the fact that it hasn't reached 100 degrees yet this summer!  I'm not so sure my tomato plants like the cooler weather, but this summer has been a dream!

--that I still have this space.  I know my blogging has been way more sporadic this year, but I am still so happy that I have this space to come to when I feel like sharing thoughts and moments in my life.  And because there are still some people out there who come here to see those thoughts.  Thanks for celebrating with me!

So there you have it.  What are you celebrating today?  If you do a post, leave a link in the comments so I can see!


the week in food 17/52

from top: making paleo zucchini muffins, our first try at grilling pork chops; fresh blackberries; greek inspired beef skillet; breakfast; roasted potatoes, carrots and beets with bacon and eggs

Life has been flying by, y'all!  Summer is nearly over and I feel like it's barely begun.  I sat down last night and said to Justin, "can you believe there are only 4 more months left in the year?"  It's crazy!  I've been desperately trying to save our zucchini plants from squash bugs, but I think I've failed.  I pulled the last, very dead, plant today and said a sad goodbye.  It was our first year growing zucchini and I think I've learned a lot.  Next year will be better.

How is your week going?