My retired husband has decided to cook. He is also canning, pickling and preserving, and my kitchen has been hit by the opposite of the Ajax white tornado.
It shouldn’t surprise me, as his mother did all those things with the bounty from her garden. First, his retirement produced a massive garden, then his upbringing kicked right in.
While that sounds glorious in theory, we have very different ideas of what makes yummy food and what might actually be worth making from scratch. While I will continue to eat the last of the cherry tomatoes fresh off the bush, he decided to make tomato sauce. While he was in the mood, he brought home a bushel of dried beans to make his own refried beans — because you can’t buy either of those at the market for a couple of bucks. Oh wait. You can.
But he has fun simmering and soaking and filling the freezer. And he gets an A+ for effort, since preserving food is, without question, an effort. He tried to make marmalade from our oranges, but that went awry. He squeezed endless lemons for homemade lemonade. He harvested his own basil, garlic and macadamia nuts and made a very respectable pesto. But remember, to get to a single macadamia nut, you have to sift and gather them from the ground, then crack through two separate shells, both harder than diamonds.
He bought a peeler/corer and made his own applesauce. He took his acorn squash and made a chili from it. Resourceful, perhaps, but I would have simply gone for baking with brown sugar and butter. He ate his okra just plain from the microwave. He baked multiple blackberry cobblers with questionable crusts. He devoured tiny artichokes, although I’m still unclear how.
In short, he held true to the motto of his farmer/Depression-era forebears, “If you grow it, it must be consumed.”
I did my bit by eating all the tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash he grew, even stuffing one huge squash that hid under a leaf for too long. And I am giddily poised for avocado season with open mouth. That’s when I break out my guacamole skills and really shine.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer and masterful clean-up crew. Contact her at [email protected].