Sunday, July 27, 2008


When I was a child, there were many summer mornings when my 2 brothers, 5 sisters, and I would awaken to two children's wading pools full of beans and peas, picked by my father and ready to be snipped and shelled so my mother could freeze them and can them. You see, when I was a child, our family grew three gardens.

  • One in front complete with grapes on vines and yummy strawberries. (We had to fight the birds for them...)
  • Two in the back yard brimming with rows of corn, green beans, peas, and tomatoes.
We each were assigned rows to weed, and we knew how to work in the summer!

My father also had a coop full of chickens. I stayed away from those dirty birds - I was afraid of getting my eyes pecked! ( I was much shorter then...) I rarely ever ventured into their lair for eggs because:
  1. it smelled
  2. it was dark
  3. I didn't want to die a pecking death!
Needless to say, my brothers were the egg gatherers, and, yes, my father was the butcher when the time came.

My mother canned everything she could: fish my dad caught, pie cherries, peaches that we helped pluck from the trees, pears, apricots from the apricot tree in the yard, beans from the garden, raspberries from Bear Lake, and, yes, even tomatoes from the garden. Aside from canning, she froze peas and corn from the garden, and made oodles of freezer jam: strawberry and raspberry. She even made concentrated purple grape juice from the rows of grapes in the front garden to be served only at Sunday dinner. What an industrious woman she had to be - to feed 8 mouths in a time when money was tight. It seemed like the normal thing to do when I was a child. Only now do I realize what a chore it all was. It was work, but it was worth the effort when we got to eat from those delicious bottles of golden peaches and savor the yummy jam on her homemade bread. It was normal to us.

I gave Alyssa a book for Christmas entitled Plenty. I thought she would enjoy it because of its "back to nature" subtitle. However, I ended up reading it after she decided it was a little too slow for her. I needed a good read for the summer during my lazy afternoons at the pool. This book didn't disappoint me. I really enjoyed reading the month by month account of the food that was to be found in the authors' 100-mile diet. As I reached the last month's account, I had so many memories flood my brain about my childhood food experiences, that I just had to share and recommend the book to anyone who may have "endured" those summer mornings of picking, plucking, snipping, and shelling. Wow. I feel spoiled and a bit lazy that I haven't carried on any of the childhood canning, bottling, freezing, and pressure cookering that my incredible mother did regularly each year. "Times they are a changin'"

Read this book. I don't know that you or I would be able or willing to eat like the authors, but it'll make you think about the food you eat and it may influence your food choices for the better.

May you all have Plenty!


jo said...

I've snapped a bean or two :) I grew up like that, too. I REALLY wish my children were able to experience more of those kind of things...we need to find 5 acres in SE Boise...HA! I'll just have to keep making my yearly trek to Nampa in the fall and hope they get the gist of it! Anymore, it's not all that more economical anyway. OH you said...times are changin'. I'll add the book to my list.

Amy :)

The Ball Babies said...

what are you doing up so late, missy? i thought i was the only one on the computer?


Ashlee said...

I remember SEEING the pools full of the beans, but I never had to snip :) I was young enough that I just got to watch, then fill up the pool when it was empty and swim in it. But I do remember the oh so divine grape juice only served on Sundays and only getting a small cup full. Oh, the memories!

Nisa said...

yep I had the same memories. We had 8 fruit trees including a very prolific pie cherry tree. We had three strawberry beds, a grape vine bed, raspberry bed, and blackberry bed. Each one was the size of a large RV site. Then we had seven compost bins 5 feet tall and four feet deep, and a 1/4 acre garden. I've spent many days with wrinkled wet fingers, taking cherry pits out of 1 million cherries, picking blackberries amid thorns larger than my hands, being scared to walk past the corn field in the dark, and shelling peas that I had no intention of ever eating. The worst part is that we lived in 2 acre suburbia and all our neighbors thought we were a little funny to can and make everything that we consumed. I feel your pain.

Tracy said...

Those are fantastic memories I wish I had!!! Thanks for sharing!