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!