When I was a little girl I lived beside Granny Pearl - after whom I was named: PEARL is my middle name - and Granny Irene. These two elderly ladies doted on our young family by babysitting for my mom, buying my sister and I lots of pink baby clothes and being close-by family. My parents started their married life in the basement apartment of their home and later built a house right-next-door.
I have wonderful memories of the granny's - the first was as a toddler playing with my toys under the quilt frame and looking around to see lots of old-ladies-knees. They were hard at work stitching the quilt and visiting. I remember Granny Irene's biscuits - warm-out-of-the-oven, baked to perfection with little brown spots on the top. Biscuits are still one of my favorite comfort foods and nothing has ever tasted as good as hers - certainly not Timmies. But one of my best memories of all was THE-CHILI-SAUCE. I was too young to remember it being canned but I haven't forgotten the taste. My mom told me she had helped make it once and all she could remember was it had lots of fruit in it and it was cooked for a long time. It has tomatoes, onions, pears, peaches and a few other things. I just remember seeing the glass topped canning jars of yummy red sauce in the basement pantry. HEAVENLY. We ate that chili sauce for years after Granny Pearl passed away. We even found one lonely jar in the back of the cold cellar about 10 years ago and I took it home to look longingly at it's contents but considering that by then it was over 30 years old I didn't dare to eat it.
Those memories have tossed around in my mind for a long time and it was all mixed in with my desire to move-to-the-country and live a different kind of lifestyle. I started canning a few years ago when we still lived in town - first with water-bath-only items and then moving on to pressure canning some of the lower acid foods. Last summer having just arrived at the farm and being far too busy with other things I didn't can too much except a batch of salsa with my daughter Leah.
This year things have changed!
I met Donna - whom I lovingly refer to as my-friend-Donna-who-lives-downtown which is a great joke because "town" has no more than 20 houses. We became friends over this past year when we got-to-talking on the phone about the yearly penny-sale for the local church (circa very-old). We have many things in common and hit it off immediately. A love for history is one thing we share. She is the unofficial historian for the town and since her family have lived in the area for generations she is related to many of the neighbours and has a story to tell about many of the others . Her Aunt Ruby and Uncle Fred live just down the road from us and were owners of Shalom Engedi Farm in years past.
She is an quilting artist who pays great attention to detail - ok - that's something we don't have in common but I am hoping some day she'll teach Lydia and I a few things about quilting so we can at least finish the quilt we started when Lyd was 12.
But the most exciting news of ALL - she CANS! I finally found someone who cans. Most of my other friends were totally unimpressed with this exciting news and seem like they couldn't care less...WELL I was excited!
Lydia is home for a few weeks from school and she was willing to learn with me so we just spent 4 days at Donna's house together. I would love to say that all the garden produce came from my garden but alas it has produced a great crop of weeds with a few vegetables on the side - I did grow most of the dill. But something even more wonderful happened - Donna sent out the word that she was going to teach us to can and several people offered to give us the cucumbers. Some came from John and Joan's garden and some from Aunt Ruby's. The tomatoes came from Donna's garden. Knowing that she was willing to spend so much time teaching us and her husband was so patient to deal with the huge mess we made; that John and Joan and Aunt Ruby so graciously gave us the produce... all I can say is that living in a small community is wonderful! Thank you all!!
Altogether we canned:38 jars of dill pickles
27 jars of bread and butter pickles
2 crocks of icicle pickles that need to be canned at the end of the week
30 jars of relish
19 jars of chili sauce
Plus Lyd and I managed to do 17 jars of apple butter and 11 jars of peaches at home.
The chili sauce isn't the same as Granny's but I suspect I may never be able to duplicate the exact recipe because it won't have Granny's love- it's kinda like the Nasi Goreng thing - but that's a story for another day.
I think the Granny's would be proud!