This isn’t exactly a rant. More random musings from the garden and kitchen. Plus, I’m writing this more for the sake of journaling, than thinking anyone is going to benefit from anything I have to say. It’s a very hot muggy day, and I’m trudging back and forth between the garden and kitchen, taking breaks to cool off while I finish planting my fall garden – peas, beets, carrots, spinach, pak choy, lettuce, cabbage. If I don’t finish planting this week, it’s going to be too late.
It always feels a little strange to be planting at the same time I’m dealing with the glut of a late summer garden. I’ve got a bumper crop of poblano peppers and eggplant this year. Once it cools off this evening, I’ll fire up the grill and get the peppers charred, and will work till bedtime getting them peeled, seeded, packaged, and in the freezer. This is just the first batch. There are more left on the plants than the number I picked this morning.
Anyway, back to my musings. While I’m taking my indoor breaks from the garden, I’m going through old cookbooks and a few articles, planning a couple of new ways to preserve my red roasting peppers and eggplant. As I’m reading about making Serbian Ajvar, I find myself comparing my new fangled American preserving to Old World preservation. Old food traditions exert a strong pull on me.
As much as I love modern conveniences and technology, my heart thrills to explore old forgotten, labor intensive methods of food preparation. I prefer my mortar and pestle to my food processor, my big chef’s knife to about any gadget you can name, and I never recoil from a recipe that calls for 30 minutes of slow heat and stirring, or something that requires several stages of preparation over a period of days, or even weeks.
Another aspect of old traditions that appeals to me is community. My time spent preparing my harvest is solitary, and I know it can’t be helped, but something inside me screams that this isn’t right! This isn’t the way it should be done. Historically, communities have come together to harvest and prepare the fruits of their labor. Grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, passing down recipes and methods from one generation to another, sitting together talking, sharing stories and wisdom as they snap, peel, chop and grind.
I’m conflicted. Sometimes I think I’d give up this world I live in for an older way. And I don’t mean that in a “cranky-old-lady-reminiscing-about-the-good-old-days-like-they-were-better” kind of way. I think something’s been lost that we’ll never be able to get back. But, this is the world I’ve been given, so I’ll just keep learning what I can about old methods, and choosing to do things the hard way.