10:25 PM

I've been having the most bonding times with tomatoes lately. 

   No silly, I haven't been bonding with the actual tomatoes themselves, although I'll admit there is little else quite as satisfying as a juicy, ripe summer beefsteak straight from your garden.  It is the activities surrounding tomatoes that often include loved ones that have provided the bonding moments. 

  A staple, and I mean STAPLE in our home is homemade salsa.  I feel sort of weird every time I buy a jar of salsa because it is just not the same.  I grew up with homemade canned salsa, and I want my children to experience the same delight of the perfect recipe, the feeling of accomplishment in a job well done, and of course, the incomparable taste and texture. 

   Except this year I just wasn't sure how I was going to get my salsa done.  Sometimes the people I am close to are so busy, or have babies of their own that I feel guilty asking for help...but salsa was just too big of a job to tackle on my own and I was left wondering how it would ever get done.

   Then suddenly out of nowhere, my aunt informed me that they would be out here on the West coast, and would love to stop in for a visit.  Oh, and did I have any projects I needed help with?  Boy, did I!  So we found ourselves up to our elbows in tomatoes, peppers and onion, chopping and mixing, stirring and pouring, until I had beautiful rows of homemade salsa lining my pantry.  

   It was wonderful having them around.  I always love having family here, but of course it's always extra-lovely when they help you like crazy.:)  They brought their 4 grand-boys with them, and Konrad's came over for the day and so that totaled 11 children under the age of 10 in my house.  Quite the wild times, I assure you.

    The funniest part of it all is that I used to be SO skeptical of canning.  Canning seemed to me, the poster child of the bondage and slavery of the Mennonite housewife.  It just seemed so pointless.  Whenever I thought about canning, or heard someone "bragging" about all the produce they canned, I used to think something like.... "So you mean to tell me, you spent hours in the hot sun prepping and planting and maintaining your garden, weeding and picking and slaving away for the production of the fruits and vegetables, then you bought jars and lids and rings (which aren't cheap) and you washed them and readied them and sliced, peeled, chopped, mixed and stirred until it was all ready, filled the jars, put on the lids, "cold packed" them (which I never knew what that meant until recently) wiped them off with a rag, lined them up in your cupboards and called it worth it?!  You've GOT to be kidding me."

   There was just no amount of money, or "it tastes so much better" raptures to ever make it worth it to me.  I was above canning.  It was the old way of thinking, and I was not about to let NOT doing it make me feel inferior as a housewife.  I was going to enjoy my clean kitchen, my store-bought produce and my sanity, and leave the rest of the unenlightened wives to their summer-season-craziness.  

But that was before this summer.

   This summer is the first summer I have ever canned on my own.  And as you all know, if you read this post you know it hasn't all been roses or a bowl of cherries by any stretch of the imagination.  But I have to admit, I got bit by the canning bug and I finally get it.  It's not just about the money saved.  It's not even just about the healthier, more natural, organic product.  Although those are both perfectly good reasons.  It is about the sense of community and fellowship you experience this time of year with all the others around you reaping rewards from their own bountiful harvests.  It is about the sense of accomplishment.  It is the satisfaction of a job well-stinkin-done.

   And it comes with a price.  Not just fiscally, as you buy your jars and lids, but physically, mentally, and at times, emotionally.  My back has suffered.  My blog has suffered.  My marriage, at moments, has suffered. Moments, mind you, just moments.  But then the new day dawns, and everyone is back to their right minds and the shelves are lined with your blood, sweat, and tears, and it feels so good.

   I've done canning both ways: alone and with company.  And I'm sure it's a no-brainer which I would prefer.   I made tomato soup today with my friend Cindy as our children played.  And as we cut tomatoes, onions and celery, stirred the kettles and cinched the lids tight on the jars, we lost ourselves in good, deep conversation and the wonderful smells filling the kitchen.  And it was just as fun (if not more) than sitting down for a cup of coffee.  And we had 40 future meals of delicious, homemade tomato soup between the two of us when we were finished. One of which we polished off tonight with some fresh homemade bread.

Like I said, SO worth it. 

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  1. I grew up helping my mama with her canning every Summer,& now my children are helping me.& there are few things more rewarding than having your pantry/cellar shelves filled with soups,sauces & veggies that you've harvested yourself.

  2. love this post and I totally "get it"! I wanted to try tomato soup this year for something "new" but didn't get it done. I did try ketchup though!

  3. i'm right there with ya shelley. sometimes canning days make me question my sanity...but the sense of satisfaction i get when i see my shelves filling up is just awesome! =) btw, i'd love to have your salsa recipe. i have a good one i used this year, but it would be interesting to see yours.

  4. I've been mulling over a similar post, with so many similar thoughts overflowing from my heart! I feel like we could have MUCH to discuss about this topic!


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