Friday, July 2, 2010
Fresh from the Garden
Happy 4th of July! This is for the 4th of July Blog Potluck over at Creating Home. Be sure and stop by there for links to lots of memories and recipes.
My grandmother was a fantastic gardener, but she didn't eat fresh vegetables. Nana was a product of the great depression and all things were to be hoarded, even food. Some of my earliest memories are of summer harvests and the inevitable canning process. With only a tiny icebox, she didn't freeze things. She canned them. For days on end, the pressure canner and pots of boiling water roiled nonstop. I'm talking about a Texas summer with only a little swamp cooler unit to take the sting out of the heat.
We'd sit there beet read, wiping faces on the apron and eat those last few peaches that didn't make it into the jars. She would tell me stories about her childhood and we would snap beans. She excelled at all those things folks consider the dying domestic arts now. She canned and quilted, made all my clothes until junior high--and she could strike a match at 100 yards with her rifle. She was a shrewd business woman in an era in which it wasn't appreciated, but she had to be. I'm pretty sure that if she was of my generation, she'd be a Fortune 500 CEO, given her ruthless nature and razor sharp intellect.
I still haven't found any store bought relishes, jams, or pickles that come anywhere close to hers. My favorite was her chow-chow. Chow-chow is a pickled relish made from whatever you've got in the garden and hers had a smattering of everything in it. Nana loved color and this is a vibrant, beautiful garnish to your hotdogs and burgers. The vegetables can vary, but she started with:
Tomatoes: This is the base of your relish. Peel and core about 2 1/2 pounds
Zucchini, 5 or six medium sized will do, you can throw in crooked neck squash for a little color
Sweet bell peppers, 6 large ones, I like to use a combo of red, green and yellow ones, remove stems and seeds
Onions, 2 peeled and quartered
Garlic, four cloves
Coarsely chop all your veggies. Nana chopped these all by hand and mixed them, but I like to use the coarse chop blade of my food processor. Put them in a colander and let the excess liquid drain into the sink. Sprinkle them with 1/4 cup of pickling salt and let them stand overnight.
The next morning, rinse the mixture and drain again. In a large pot mix:
2 Cups sugar
2 Cups white vinegar
1 Cup water
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp thyme
Bring it to a boil and add in the veggies. Once it reaches a full boil remove from the heat. Put it in your pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace, adjust lids and boil in canner for another 10 minutes.
Soon I'll share her corn relish recipe and maybe even her icebox pickles (if I feel frisky).
Enjoy your 4th of July!