Tuesday, July 12, 2011


(Blackberry jam, canned by Yours Truly. Photo credit: The Man)

Summer has always been my favorite food season. Two words explain this: Tomatoes and basil. I can't get enough of either, and they grow all summer long right in my own backyard.

But this summer the bounty is even larger. With the help of my friend Melissa and the good folks at the County Cooperative Extension office, I've learned how to can. This weekend I canned blackberries from the farmers' market. I now have seven lovely half-pint jars staring at me from my mantle. If the food supplies run low this winter, we'll survive on jam.

My deep freeze is starting to fill up, bit by bit, with produce from the backyard and local farms. This morning I picked lima beans, blanched them, and popped them into the freezer, where they joined the strawberries we picked mid-May at a nearby pick-your-own place, green beans from the garden, and all that lovely spaghetti sauce I made last week.

Later this week, I'll be canning blueberries and, if I have enough tomatoes, tomato-basil sauce.

This makes me so very happy in so many ways. I feel self-sufficient and practical, not to mention thrifty (all those beans from a $2.99 pack of seeds!). And, very importantly, it all tastes amazing.

My taste in food runs to the simple. A salad with freshly picked lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, and a few leaves of basil leaves me humming for hours after eating it. I love bread and cheese, unsweetened tea, and peaches. There are very few things I love to eat that I couldn't make or grow myself, with the exception of Fritos.

I currently have in my possession the supplies I need to make mozzarella cheese. Which is what I might do this afternoon, since nothing else is going on, and it's going to be 100 degrees outside and a cool 76 degrees inside. I have a recipe that claims I can make mozzarella in thirty minutes. Just think, thirty minutes, and then I can have some fresh mozzarella topped with a slice of tomato and a basil leaf. Doesn't that sound like a marvelous snack?


(This is a marigold we grew from seeds from Thomas Jefferson's garden. The plants themselves are about three-and-a-half feet tall and quite unruly, but I've grown to love their sprawling, awkward ways. Photo credit: The Man)

I am continuing with my campaign to put aside all concern for my children's happiness. It's very liberating, I must tell you, and they don't seem to be suffering from my lack of interest in whether or not they found their doctor's appointment to be a jolly good time or if their playdate was all they dreamed it could be.

The trick now is to keep in mind that any job I am currently engaged in--folding the laundry, say, or weeding the garden--is actually one my children could be doing. I keep forgetting. But I will get better at remembering, fear not!


Gumbo Lily said...

Look at you! That jam is beautiful and I hope that The Man will take more photos of your "canning cupboard" or shelves so that we can see all the lovely jars of things you're putting up.

Please report on the mozzarella. I wish I was eating tomatoes and basil with you. Basil, yes. Tomatoes, no.


Susan said...

My favorite foods in the whole world are simple ones too. My list? (I assume you want to know b/c it's just your childnen's happiness about which you are no longer concerned so I shall share.) Peaches and unsweetened tea-hot or cold. These make me smile through and through.

Oh, and don't forget cherries. Deep red almost black cherries. One of my all time favorite memories is gorging myself silly on cherries while expecting my first child and visiting a certain NC friend. I can't buy or even look at cherries without remembering that happy time.

Pom Pom said...

I like Fritos, too. You are learning a lot this summer! So productive! Our tomatoes are still green, but soon we'll have a lot. Salsa. That's what we'll make.

Tracy said...

Those jars look beautiful. Such a shame the contents are consumed at some point!!! However, I'm sure those blackberries will taste even better than they look.

Is there anything better than homegrown tomatoes with homegrown basil? I think not. Then again, you'll have to report on the homemade mozzarella and let us know!

I stepped outside yesterday to take some things to the 'dungeon' for storage. My chives had died back, as they do, and new shoots are sprouting. And there is parsley coming up. Who said a winter garden was dormant?

Melissa E said...

It really does only take 30 minutes to make that mozzarella. Now that our tomatoes are ripening and the basil is growing I am making some this weekend!

The dB family said...

Jewels in a jar. That's what I call it. Summer is my favorite season too. Mmmmm, basil and tomatoes -- and now fresh mozzarella too. Yes, please do report on your cheese making. I'm living vicariously through you right now. I think I'm even going to become a Buddist too. Have I ever told you how much I love the way you write? At the very least, you always make me smile when I read your posts. Today I couldn't resist reading some of them to the Engineer who is working across the table from me. I had him laughing out loud right along with me. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!


GretchenJoanna said...

I usually am not crazy about marigolds but a wild and sprawling antique like yours sounds more interesting than the usual. Want to trade a few seeds for some rattlesnake grass?