My husband cultivates a family garden every year. I’ve enjoyed sharing the produce, have eaten a good bit of it, and have frozen what’s easy. Last year, my daughter Aline and her husband were able to purchase a house. This spring she planted her first garden ever. Living on one income so she can stay home with their baby daughter, the thought of stretching their food budget is anything but laughable. She took a class on canning with the County Extension Service.
Somehow I got recruited – not against my will – and Sunday afternoons, when Aline’s husband often works, became our kitchen days. She, my husband, and I took turns minding the baby, while my son wandered in and out of the room.
First we made pickles, and then came jars of tomatoes and sauce. Aline strung hot peppers and braided onions. We added homemade bread when I came across a bread machine at Goodwill. We made fig jam. We baked early pumpkin and pureed and canned it for Thanksgiving pies.
Aline also started participating in the Atlanta Food Swap, trading garden produce, bean salad, jalapeno poppers, lemon curd and homemade bread for salsa, herbs, larabars, kefir seeds, baklava, almond butter… you get the idea.
There have been many years I would have scoffed at so much domesticity, but this year it has been a delight – mostly because of the warmth of the family connection, but also because we’ve eaten really well.
I highly recommend playing with your food. Go to an ethnic grocery store and pick up something you’ve never tried. Gather some folks together and cook up a feast on a weekend afternoon. Mother Earth could have fulfilled our basic needs with a minimum of foodstuffs. Instead she’s given us a profusion of flavors and sensations. Celebrate the goodness.