Harvest Time

I finally got to the last batch of apples this past week. I made chunky applesauce and rosy applesauce.  Sit back, look at the jeweled jars of produce and feel a job well done. I am very grateful to a friend who hooked me up with an incredible deal on apples. 50 pounds for $5. Seriously. It was, regrettably, the only preserving I did this year, not counting my salty pickles and my piddly three pints of pizza sauce.

I loved getting my book out and dusting it off: Canning and Preserving by Linda Ferrari, published by Crescent books. I loved gathering my supplies, my jar lifter, my funnel, my magnetic lid grabber, my stock pot, my water bath and so on. It made me glad I saved all my jars and rings. I knew I was going to get back into canning. But all of this isn’t why I’m writing today.

I have, in my possession, an old ledger from my Grandma. It contains in her even hand, lists of expenses and incomes over the course of a couple years. It also has valuable birth dates and names of her children and siblings, but that’s another story. I love to look at this ledger.

1937     Mr. and Mrs. NJP

Aug. 28th Pay Check: 18.50                                  Wagonlanders     6.34

27th Cut Grass:       .50                                    gasoline                   .54

Gradolph               1.00

meat                1.00

Root Beer                 .05

church                    .20

cigar                     .05

Hair Cut                   .35

Isn’t it wonderful? I love it. I feel such a wonderful connection to my grandparents. They didn’t keep journals or letters. This is the only record of them I have besides their children’s memories. But the coolest thing I discovered is a few pages in:

Sept 24       pectin             .70

wax              .14

(sundries)

Sept 25          pectin            .45

peaches        1.50

jar rubbers          .10

can lids           .26

I feel close to my grandma. I knew exactly what she was doing.

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Green Beans and Cornbread

When I was pregnant with child #2, Dale and I would eat cornbread and green beans for lunch. Sound boring?

The green beans were home canned…my MIL gave me the beans, and I canned them one hot steamy summer day. I loved the ritual of wiping the jar rims, sterilizing the lids, getting air bubbles out with a butter knife, and best of all…the smell of simmering green beans filling up the apartment. I bottled several batches, and that was what ‘Dale’ and I ate after we moved to our new hometown.

Still not convinced? The cost of the beans was negligible, since MIL gave me most of the materials. I think I bought jar lids. Jiffy makes a lovely little cornbread mix and sells it for 33 cents. So our meal was what, 20 cents a person? I love eating cheaply. And finally…

The piece de resistance? Real Butter. Not Imperial Spread or Blue Bonnet. No, real butter from real milk from cows. I would pull my little cake round out of the oven, barely wait for it to cool, and slather thick layers of butter on top. Then I would serve heaping piles of cooked green beans on each of our plates, and douse the hot beans with butter as well. A liberal dash of salt on the beans, and we would eat until bursting. I got a real kick out of my two year old boy enjoying green beans as much as I do. The best thing was we ate the same meal almost every day for a couple of weeks, and never got tired of it. It was inexpensive, arguably healthy, and a lovely little tradition that my first boy and I shared in our new apartment. I kind of felt like I had invented something, but then about a year ago, I was watching Bear in the Big Blue House with child number 4, and Bear announced that he was going to cook up a mess of buttered string beans…wow. It must have been my Southern roots shining through. We have beans in our garden right now, but not enough to warrant pressure canning them. I saw a roadside stand selling bags of green beans for a dollar. I couldnt’ decide if that was a good enough deal or not, so I drove on by. I’m probably not going to be able to find another 20 cent meal, huh.