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Pull Up A Chair…


So, it’s summer, and the produce area in my local grocery store and the farmer’s market are overflowing with some yummy fruit and fresh veggies.  For my money, there is nothing better than a perfectly ripe Georgia peach, fresh off the tree.  Although they are awfully tough to find in my neighborhood these days, I remember them fondly from childhood vacations and a stop on the way home from the beach at a u-pick place near the interstate.  Mmmm…

When I was a kid, we always had a huge garden during the summer, and we spent a lot of time home canning various jams, jellies, and hot pack veggies to eat during the winter, as well as filling up our big freezer full of blanched, fresh produce. 

My grandparents did this, my great-grandparents did this, and so did my folks.  And I did for several years until the time factor just got too much compared to the pay-off.  Although these days, I still battle myself as to whether the exhaustion of canning time, on top of everything else that I’m juggling, might have a big pay-off on the cold, gray of mid-February.

Opening up a jar of home canned tomatoes truly is like opening a jar of summertime.

I miss freshly canned foods terribly in the cold depths of winter.  One of the great things about home canning, though, is that you re-use the jars year after year — so I still have a whole pantry full of empty jars waiting to be filled with something yummy.  And when you can the food yourself, you know exaactly what goes into it — no wacky chemicals if you don’t want to use them, so long as you follow safe canning practices with the appropriate level of heat, time and/or pressure.

It’s finding the time and the energy that is the problem for me these days.  So while things are still warm and fresh, I try to eat something fresh at every meal, savoring the wonderful taste of seasonal goodness while I can.

There has been a move toward seasonal eating in the last few years that goes hand in hand with the organic foods and sustainable agriculture movements in this country.  Sure, you can go to the grocery store in January and find some blueberries that have been flown in from Chile, but as gas prices continue their higher trend as demand outstrips supply for the forseeable future, those blueberries aren’t going to be so common.

I thought today we could share some of our favorite ideas and recipes for fresh fruit.  We’re headed into the dog days of summer — don’t know about all of you, but the heat and humidity here has been unbearable this summer, and fresh salads and fruits are much more appealing than a heavy meal.  But I can only have the same old fruit salad so many times.

So let’s share a bit about fresh fruits and how we’re eating them these days.  Or, if you’ve got a great veggie recipe, throw it into the mix — I’m sure someone here could use some help with their ubiquitous zucchini (’tis the season).  Have a favorite home canning recipe?  Do share.  Looking for some favorite childhood dish — maybe someone else can help, so just ask.

Just pull up a chair…if I dig into the back of my pantry, I just might have a jar of home-canned apple butter stashed away somewhere here to go with the soda bread.  What’s on your mind this morning?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com