I began the day by reading Michael Pollan’s article, No One Cooks Here Anymore, in the New York Times Magazine. It’s a rather discouraging report about how most Americans would rather buy prepared food instead of cooking meals themselves. Sigh.
My afternoon was spent freezing and pickling the beans from my garden. I separated the youngest, most tender beans from the larger ones, and the flat Italian varieties from the round. The smaller beans were steamed and frozen, and the larger ones packed into jars along with dill and garlic from the garden. I added hot pepper flakes, filled the jars with hot vinegar/water/salt brine, and processed them in a large pot of boiling water.
Three hours later the kitchen was a disaster area. Every surface was filled with bowls, pans, bean ends, garlic husks and utensils… but I also had eight quarts of beans in the freezer and twelve jars of spicy pickles. It is extremely pleasing to see those jars cooling on the table.
I started canning tomatoes and pickles in the late ’60′s when such things were popular with college students and young adults. It was part of our attraction to getting “back to the land”. We planted vegetable gardens, and made our own granola and yogurt.
Although I’ve long ago given up culturing yogurt, we still make our own granola and there hasn’t been a year since 1972 that my husband and I haven’t planted a vegetable garden. Home grown vegetables taste better.
As I filled the jars with green beans, I found myself humming Greg Brown’s song Canned Goods - “Peaches on the shelf, Potatoes in the bin, Supper’s ready, everybody come on in, Taste a little of the summer, Taste a little of the summer, You can taste a little of the summer, my grandma’s put it all in jars.”
I’m hoping that in the near future young Americans discover the pleasure that comes from cooking fresh food. I hope that they claim this discovery for their own, and wonder why their parents were stupid enough to buy microwaveable, prepared meals. Perhaps they’ll agree with me that home grown, freshly cooked, fruits and vegetables aren’t just more tasty… the process of growing and cooking your own is also deeply satisfying.