Passing Down Traditions

I come from a long line of farmers. My family grew tobacco for a cash crop, hay and corn to feed the livestock, and a big garden to feed ourselves. My momma preserved everything she grew or foraged to feed us through the winter.

This weekend, I had the privilege of passing some of this knowledge down to my niece. She grew an abundance of habanero peppers and wanted to make pepper jelly. I personally don’t care for spicy food, but she likes it, so off we went!

The recipes she picked were a plain pepper jelly and a pepper marmalade. Both were new to me, so it was a learning experience for both of us. The marmalade made the house smell divine, oranges and spices bringing to mind Christmas.

Although it was quite a bit of work, chopping and stirring and peeling, there was also the sheer pleasure of creating and passing of traditions from one generation to the next.

In three generations, we’ve gone from mamma preserving from necessity, to me preserving to stay closer to my roots and have a bit of extra food, to my niece growing and preserving simply because she wants to.

In the end, we made 28 pints of marmalade and 15 half pints of pepper jelly. Yes, she could probably have made a dash to the grocery store and bought something similar. It would be much easier. This way, she has the satisfaction of doing it herself, and memories of a day spent with her aunt, listening to tales of her granny.

Sometimes, the hard way is the better way.


Saturday morning: Memories

My momma grew up in the Great Depression. Probably as a result of this, she saved everything. Nothing that could possibly be used later was thrown away, and leftovers were a way of life. She grew a big garden, and canned or froze a large portion of what we ate. Food was not to be wasted.

The grandchildren were scolded at the holidays about their eating habits. “Don’t take that out if you’re not going to eat it!” We still laugh about it when someone leaves food on their plate.

The point of this story is to explain how I found myself in my overgrown garden this morning, picking beans for (I hope) the last time. I don’t actually need them, I’ve canned beans several times already, and these are kind of bug bitten. I only went to the garden for some tomatoes for salad later,, damnit, but the beans were there, and would go to waste. Unacceptable!

With momma’s voice in the back of my head, I picked the beans and the tomatoes. As long as I’m having beans for supper, I need potatoes, so I dug new potatoes out of the former site of the compost pile. The actual crop of potatoes are still in the ground. Digging them up is story for another day.

Some days, like today, I think I’m turning into my momma. With all the insanity going on in the world today, maybe that’s not a bad thing? What ways do you see your parents, or even grandparents, in yourself?