A throwback to a different way of life.
This year was a Golden Year for me – I turned the age that matched the numerical day I was born – and I’d resolved to make it my best one yet. This has led me on a number of adventures, and I began to discover that as much as I enjoyed adventures that took me outside of my usual comfort zone, I also enjoyed trying new activities that I could do at home… I was tired of it being only a place where I slept.
So, when a friend at work invited me to participate in a bulk buy of locally sourced, organic produce that he and his wife were participating in, I leapt at a chance to try something new. Poring over the order form set me salivating: green beans, heirloom and Roma tomatoes, apples, peaches, and pears – oh my! Despite divvying it up with a few other ambitious souls, I still ended up with about 50-odd pounds of fresh, ripe produce.
“Holy moly.” I uttered (perhaps with some choice words that are unfit to print). “This is a lot of food.”
Another work friend pointed me toward Food In Jars, a delightful blog that not only provides numerous recipes for canners, but also provides some guidance and important warnings for beginner canners like myself. This is how I managed to preserve the produce that covered my table, and how I’ve been able to enjoy some of those preserves and live to tell the tale.
You should know that I live alone. You should also know that I am easily distracted, and as a result tend to procrastinate on things that will dirty a lot of dishes. You should ALSO know that one of the things I hate more than anything is wasting food. Therefore, I plotted out a schedule, put on some good tunes, and set to work.
It took me four days and many hours to complete the task – but I managed to preserve almost everything. And what wasn’t preserved was consumed in some delightful meals. (Is there anything better than green beans lightly sauteed with garlic, and fresh slices of heirloom tomatoes? No. No there is not.) This was an amazing experience.
It’s interesting to discover the joy in a process. So much of what I do (at work, and in writing at home) takes place in front of a computer. Unless I were to print out everything I do, I get no tangible sense of accomplishment. But as I worked methodically through my produce, I had dozens of jars lining my counters, cooling until I could ensure that the seal did take.
Now, I’ve discovered a new joy in my life: the process of preserving food. As I worked, I thought about how this was once a necessity – something our ancestors had to do to survive stark winters, and keep families fed outside of the growing season. Though this was purely for the joy of it, and not out of necessity (well, apart from the necessity of not wasting pounds of food), I felt a kinship with my grandparents and great-grandparents.
And when I caught myself wondering what I would do differently the next go-round, I realized something the large pioneer families likely did: can in company. A few weeks later, when I went on an adventure to an apple farm with one of my best friends, and ended up with buckets of apples – I put this into practice, living one of life’s greatest lessons: everything is more fun (and faster!) with good company.
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.