Sunday, July 06, 2008

Domestic Stuff

We finished painting the guest room. It is a color of blue called "Angel's Eyes". It's a very blue room. But a pretty kind of blue, slightly violet. I was going for a shade of light blueberry to create a restful atmosphere. I got rid of the paper border that I was thinking of putting up, and the lace balloon curtins as well. The brass bed headboard will have a pewter finish and we'll replace the light fixture with a pewter and frosted glass fixture. I was afraid the the small room would look smaller with a darker color. I was right, but it isn't a bad thing. The guest room will also have a round table that would serve as a desk for me, a reading chair and some shelves. A place to put my books and writing materials. A place for prayer, when I need to get away with God.

I found a recipe to make mango plum jam. I will try to make some this week sometime. It's a good time, since plums are in season. The recipe is a small batch recipe, so I only need 4 plums and one mango to make four cups of jam. I am also growing lavender in my front garden, so I can make peach lavender jam as well. You soak the flowers in boiling water and then strain out the flowers. The remaining liquid, about half a cup, is used in the jam, not the flowers themselves. I also found a canning recipe for bruschetta. This is great, since this is the tomato season and I could have bruschetta on hand later on in the year. I've never home canned before, except in helping my mom when I was growing up. And I've always wanted to try it, so this should be fun.

I love doing stuff at home, being domestic and taking care of things. I've always had this desire, and I learned a lot from my mom and grandma. But they never seemed to really enjoy it. It was just something that had to be done, and done well. I always heard the war stories, like when the pressure cooker blew up in the middle of canning season and scared my mom and grandma way back when. They were probably tired and not paying attention. They tended to do these things from starting in the early morning right after a quick breakfast of coffee and toast to finish nonstop late into the night.

It was not a hobby or an interesting thing to try. It was work, and it was about stretching that family food budget to get the most out of the dollar as they possibly could. And they were so stressed about it--the mess, the procedure, the timing, etc... And we, the family that they did all this for, took it all pretty much for granted. Yes, I liked the pickles that were stacked in the basement cupboard, but they were just pickles for pete's sake and there were jars and jars of them. Mom and Grandma also made fruit leather, that they pureed peaches in the blender and dried it in the oven and rolled them in plastic wrap. We ate them forever, it seemed, in our school lunches. It was a big treat the first week, but after that it was not as special six months later. But when you are 11 years old, fruit leather was better than nothing.

Later on, Mom got all gourmet and made sun dried tomatoes that she packed in olive oil and herbs and froze. But this was when I was married and long gone from living at home. I couldn't believe that she made hundreds of these, stacked in zip lock bags in her deep freezer, by herself with Dad's help with all the roma tomatoes he grew in the back yard by the bushel. If I remember right, she was recovering from congestive heart failure at the time. Later in the fall, she and Dad dried apple rings, enough to supply them for two years along with dried blueberries and dried strawberries. I guess if they got bored, this was what they did for fun. Even though they were pretty much empty nesters by then. Dad also went fishing a lot and canned his salmon right after he caught them or smoked them. Food processing was a way of life. So, no wonder I went into food science in college.

I don't think that I would go in the same direction as my mom with the canning and preserving in terms of volume. But I do think doing it by myself would be a lot more healthier and cheaper than buying it in the store. I will be going to the Lansing City Market tomorrow and see what's there to can or preserve. The farmer's market in Okemos I hear is one of the best. It's been a long time since I've gone to the farmer's market. And there will be blueberry picking coming up as an activity for English as a Second Language students in a few weeks. The opportunities are there. I'll see what I can do.

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