Sunday, August 30, 2009

Food-A-Thon III: The Ant & The Grasshopper

It was starting to get a bit crowded in the kitchen.

Saturday a weekend ago - warm and sunny - seemed like a perfect day to pull the broccoli plants. They had hogged the sun long enough. While I was pulling the broccoli, I thought I would pick some tomatoes. And the onions looked ready to pull too.

Remember Mrs. Hough's garden? She still had tomatoes. So on the heels of the Saturday home harvest, Warren and I picked about 100 pounds of them. (Really! That bucket and torn sack each ran about 30+ pounds, and there was another sack to boot.)

Needless to say, some canning was in order. I canned tomatoes that Saturday night. That Sunday was Sam's last day of vacation "back home." He spent most of it with friends, but came over Sunday to help make tomato sauce - six quarts of it.

Early in the week I canned another seven pints of tomatoes and froze four quarts more. Then the week fell to pieces at work and everything came to a big screeching halt in the kitchen until Thursday night, when I finally had the space and time and peace of mind to turn to the produce again.

As Warren and I well knew, you cannot let huge quantities of produce sit around without consequences. There were some losses along the way. Good thing I am not (too) squeamish when it comes to handling rotten tomatoes. We lost a handful of peppers and about 15 pounds of tomatoes. Not bad considering we started with over 125 pounds of tomatoes and who knows how many peppers.

Last night Warren ran peppers and onions through the food processor for over an hour. I started mixing it together this morning. When I started typing this earlier today, there was a pot of sweet pepper/onion relish cooking down for canning. As I wind this post up, I just took 11 half pints of banana peppers out of the water bath. The lids are already starting to pop.

And now we are done with all the produce. Done, done, done! Gloriously done!

Well, done except for all the tomatoes in my garden that have ripened since last weekend, and the sweet corn at Donna's farm stand that we will be buying and freezing, and the basil that I want to pick and process, and the first eggplant of the season, and…and…

My friend Margo recently compared herself and me to the ant and the grasshopper, with me firmly in the ant role. I have thought about that comment as I work to lay up the gardens' wealth. Margo is the least grasshopper-like person I know; her weekly schedule often makes my head spin. I know what she meant: here I am putting away enough food to eat all winter long regardless of what the weather or the economy holds in store for us all.

Among the vast Formicidae (ants) family is the Messor genus. These are harvester ants of one type or another, known especially for their granaries. Clearly I have something in common with the Messor line. Every time I trot down the basement stairs to put another bag of something in the freezer, I can almost feel my antennae twitching.

Aesop's ant turned its back on the grasshopper when winter set in and food became scarce. Margo knows me better than that. Warren and I are already looking forward to sharing our bounty at many a winter table to come, including with Margo and her husband Gerald. They are just about our favorite people with whom to share a meal and an evening. I am anticipating many a happy meal, the table graced with the fruits of our labors, the conversation rich and the friendship deep.

My antish antics of late should serve us well.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I'm still watching, April! All your antish antics are making me miss the midwest of my birth (Chicago suburbs, till eleven years old, and lots of family that still live on farms). I'm hoping I can keep learning by reading your posts. Thank you! Keep going!