Here in North Dakota, we have five seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall, and canning season. Recently, when it was 98 degrees outside, a friend spent the day in the kitchen making beet pickles. Her joy in the finished product reminded me of my own canning roots.
However, I must confess I’ve only made pickled beets once. Here’s how you do it: First, you dig them out of the garden. Then they must be cleaned, boiled, peeled and sliced before the pickling process begins. When I got to that stage, I realized that beet juice makes wonderful dye for hands, clothes and the whole kitchen.
We had no air conditioning in those days and the windows were open. I could hear the kids having fun as they ran through the sprinkler. I considered dumping the whole beet project and joining them, especially after I found out an ingredient was missing. However, duty called, so I loaded the wet kids in the car for a trip to the store, where I walked past the jars of beet pickles to get to the spice aisle.
Another canning story happened on a steamy August day. Mom was canning green beans in our farm kitchen. I was sent outside to hang around with Dad. To summarize, let’s just say I was seven year old with very good intentions when I put the pickup in reverse and drove over the junk pile.
When the pickup finally stopped, all four tires were flat, and there was a cream can wedged under the front bumper. (You just can’t make up details like that, can you?) Anyway, Dad sent me to the kitchen to confess to Mom, who turned off the gas stove, released the pressure valve on the canner, and came outside to help pry the pickup out. For the rest of the afternoon, I sat on the shop step and listened to Mom bawl me out as they sweated over the mess I made.
Although, I haven’t driven a pickup in years and no longer do much canning, when I do I think of Mom and the beans. Today, my summer tradition is limited to occasional batches of corn relish, apple butter, salsa, or cherries. In a good apple year, there will also be apple pies in the freezer.
We are blessed to have an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the world, something I couldn’t have imagined as a child. I hadn’t actually seen empty grocery shelves in decades, until the coronavirus appeared. It made me appreciate what many people in the world deal with on a regular basis.
For most of history, food was locally grown. People raised their own meat, grain, veggies and fruits. Late summer and fall were dedicated to bringing in the harvest and preserving it. Many homes had a storehouse or cellar that could hold a winter’s worth of potatoes, carrots, squash, and shelves of canned good. Preserving foods was the thrifty and healthy way to go.
The movement to support locally grown foods is a good one, and perhaps it’s also time to consider preserving and storing food again. However, I’m not likely to be pickling beets any time soon.
Almost everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer, but how often do we think about what it means? One line states, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Only when the shelves were empty, did I change that daily prayer. Now I say, “thank you for the incredible amount of food you have blessed us with.”
The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Matt. 6: 9-13 (NIV)
Like a hummingbird, I flit from writing project to writing project, enjoying the freedom of choosing what to write each day with no deadlines.
Last week I was thrilled to learn the Bismarck Public Library is now offering copies to “Secrets of the Dark Closet” to local book clubs. A list of discussion questions is available with the bag of books. If you are outside of Bismarck and your book club is reading it, contact me for the discussion questions.
All three books are available at all online bookstores and in some local stores. In August, will be restocking for the fall season in the next month.
May God bless you and yours in every way.