Preserving food was once a necessity. Decades past, a well-set winter table depended on the fruits (and vegetables) of summer. Women and their daughters, sisters and friends crowded together on back porches to peel peaches and apples, snap beans and shuck corn.
Food evokes such wonderful memories. This time of year makes us all think of those delectable dishes of the past. The ritual of canning and freezing were really from a generation past. I am sure they did it out of necessity, but to us it was just getting fresh corn at Thanksgiving, or having crisp sweet pickles in the dead of winter.
Nothing tastes better than your memories of food. My grandmother made the best scrambled eggs and most everything my mom makes tastes better. I am not sure why, but I think it is the loving hands that prepare it.
What I know for sure is that we all long for the tastes and experiences we used to have. My good friend, Janice, just hulled and cleaned 170 ears of corn to put up and freeze. She missed her mother’s corn. My ritual with my mom is canning tomato ketchup relish as we call it today. We do it partly for the tradition of keeping the recipe alive and the results are fantastic treasures of our past that we enjoy all year.
I think of my past every time I go to the farmers market. I am always tempted with the abundance of fruit and vegetables. I usually buy too much, thinking that I will actually make the time to cook it all!
I hope we pass on our traditions of food. It is so much about memories of who taught you to cook your first dish. If you are lucky enough to have your mom around, you get to watch her and possibly learn how to make the perfect caramel sauce. My niece, Grace, and her friends are coming for the weekend. Fortunately, they still want to hang out with us. Grace recently told me she wanted to learn how to cook, so I think this weekend will be that opportunity.
My plan is to hit the farmers market early on Saturday with Grace and her pals, Sadie and Riley, and let the fresh fruits and vegetables be my guide. I am taking the girls to Griffins Art Studio to paint before we start our cooking lesson.
I am pretty sure a fresh peach cobbler will be on the menu this weekend. I am sharing our pickle recipe. It is very easy and my nephew Joseph has perfected it and makes his spending money selling pickles. I hope you will take some time this summer to pass on your family’s cooking tradition.
Margaret Prim is the executive director of the Pennyroyal Arts Council and runs a clothing business from her Hopkinsville home and enjoys entertaining for friends and family. Her column runs the first Wednesday of every month. If you have questions or comments about her column, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipe by Sally Hail
Gallon jar kosher dill pickles, drained
6 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1 box pickling spice
Drain pickles and cut into ¼-inch rounds. Place 5 or 6 peeled garlic cloves in the bottom of the pickle jar. Add sliced pickles.
Make 2 bundles of spices in cheesecloth and tie with a twist. Add one bundle of spices about 3/4 down in jar and the other about 1/4 down. Boil sugar and vinegar and pour over pickles.
Leave the pickles out for at least 9 days, turning the jar upside down every other day. Then refrigerate.
You can use hot dill pickles if you want more heat.
For the filling:
3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
For the crust:
2 store-bought pie crusts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out one pie crust and cover the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
In a large saucepan, mix the peaches and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until butter melts.
In a bowl, mix sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cornstarch. Mix into peaches in the saucepan. Remove from heat. Pour into baked crust.
Roll remaining crust out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1/2 inch wide strips. Weave strips into lattice over peaches.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, and drizzle with melted butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.
Serve warm or room temperature. It is great with a scoop of vanilla or peach ice cream on top.
Freezer sweet corn
4 quarts fresh corn (cut from about 20 ears)
1 quart hot water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 teaspoons salt
In a stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Transfer to large shallow containers; cool, stirring occasionally.
Freeze in resealable plastic freezer bags or containers, allowing headspace for expansion.
Yield 3 quarts.