Even though it was unplanned, there was a cooking spree tonight at my house. Nothing fancy, a lasagna for a snack day at work tomorrow and some goulash. What made the goulash special, though, was the fact that I made it with Beth’s canned tomatoes, Linda’s canned tomato juice, and Rick’s oregano.
No, this post is not about preparing for a future apocalypse, though I do feel that we are supposed to take advantage of the summer and fall harvests, making sure that we have something stored for the winter months. Even though most of us live in a country where we can buy whatever we want or need whenever we want it, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t take a more proactive role in making sure the pantry is full.
Growing and preserving food makes us generous, and I’m not just talking about the time you or your neighbor planted those ten zucchini plants and you either gave away a bagful to everyone you know or you found a bag on your doorstep every morning. There’s something about growing food that makes us want to share it with other people. There’s a little bit of pride there, especially if you’re gifted with a green thumb and all your fruits and vegetables are photo worthy, but more than that, when you’ve been blessed with a bountiful harvest, you can’t help but want to share it with people.
The same things happens when you put food by, for example, the ingredients I put in my goulash today. Receiving these items that I knew had been grown, weeded, harvested and canned by people I care about, made them special. I thought of all three of these people as I put together my meal.
Sure, there are those times when you are the recipient of something canned that you’re just not sure about, like that stew from great aunt Lupy [giver and contents have been changed to protect the innocent] that looked so unappetizing but it was a gift so you couldn’t throw it away and you held onto it for years, moving it around the cupboard, until you finally fed it to the dog. Even if you never actually ate it, it became a source of entertainment as other family members asked if you’d eaten it yet.
Have you ever said, “Would you like some of this apple? I bought it at the store last week?” No, because you have no connection to it and it’s really just a commodity to be traded for money. Food was created to be shared and enjoyed as a community.
It’s also incredibly rewarding to be the one who shares something you’ve created with your own hands. Knowing how much the person is going to enjoy pouring hot fudge over a bowl of ice cream when it’s eighty-nine degrees outside or watching them take a bite of that soft ginger cookie that is not just delicious but also nutritious (ginger soothes the stomach, okay?) makes even the most stoic among us break into a grin.
If you love food as much as I do, and you haven’t done it yet, you need to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. You should buy it right now. You can come back and read the post later, it will still be here. If you’d like a book and simply can’t afford one, one will be provided to you if you post a comment and ask me for one. I reserve the right to retract this statement if more people than my Mom are reading this post.
Growing stuff is not that hard and I guarantee you will reap far more than you sow! Share what you grow and preserve! Thanks Beth, Linda, and Rick for sharing your bounty with me!