Friday, August 06, 2010

Preserving the Goodness

The bounty of the earth is upon us.  Along with the bounty, comes the goodness of sharing.  Neighbors and friends offer the excess of their gardens to others, thereby maintaining and preserving the doctrine of good will.

Tonight we will be supping on wonderful BLTs and sweet corn.  The all-time favorite summer meal.  The tomatoes are ready, the vines sagging with the juices of ripeness.   The best part is preserving them for winter cooking in stews, chilis and casseroles.  I'm a semi-domestic, meaning that I take shortcuts and the least labor intensive process possible.  I simply cut up the tomatoes, put them in the blender, hit the button to smoosh them to a puree, pour into zip-lock baggies, and they're ready for the freezer.  Ever so simple, but ever so yummy. 

We freeze zuchinni, too.  Simply cut it up in small pieces,unpeeled, put in baggies, and freeze.  They add special taste to homemade vegetable soups.  I always think it's excellent for us to ingest home-grown vegetables that we know have not been tainted with harmful and disgusting chemicals. 

When the acorn squash are ready, we like to bake the scooped-out halves, then fill the centers with creamed mixed vegetables, and top with fried strips of bacon.  This makes for a nice presentation, as well as very delicious.  We bake the yellow butternut squash, too, scoop it out, and freeze in baggies. Before I bake it, I add brown sugar and butter.  Simple preparations.

Fresh salsa with chips is a great summertime appetizer or anytime-tizer.  I can make a meal out of that alone and sometimes do.  There are a gazillion recipes for salsa, blending tomatoes, onions, and peppers of varying degrees of heat.  Some like it hot.  Some don't.  I'm one that can tolerate a pretty zippy salsa, but when tears start falling down my face, well, then it's probably a titch too much.

Growing up on the farm, we, of course, had a half-acre garden, or so it seemed.  The garden was up on the hill in the field, so we either had to hike up there or take the car.  When it was time to bring down vegetables, we naturally drove up there because we brought down 5-gallon pails full.  I'd help pick the vegetables and then tip the beans and shuck the peas.  My interest in gardening never grew to proper proportions, simply because of my snake phobia.   Anywhere I was.....they were.  So, I grew up knowing that if I stay out of the weeds or the garden, I won't have to encounter them and suffer the phobic panic. 

It's no fun having a phobia like that.  It deprives a person of doing certain things we'd really like to do.  We have a creek that wanders through our back yard.  When we first got married, it was so fun going down to the creek.....until I realized it was territory that belonged to the wigglies.  I'll bet my neighbors have never seen me down by the creek, and that's the reason why.  Instead of putting myself through the trauma, I stay clear and as far away as possible of any potential encounter.

When I think about the countries where people are starving and children dying from malnutrition, I can't help but wonder why I am so fortunate to live where I live and have what I have.  Our daily frets so often obscure our life vision.  I don't know if it comes with age, but my sense of gratitude is growing by leaps and bounds.  I find myself being so thankful for my friends, for my home, for my family, for the birds that eat at our feeders, for the squirrels that drive my husband nuts, the bunnies that munch on our lawn, and for every single good thing that happens every day.  Maybe it's because time is growing shorter, I don't know.  But, it's critical to my day to say a small sincere prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit who has been so good to me. 

We are all inter-connected.  One kind act sets off a ripple effect, and where does it stop?  Perhaps it doesn't.  Maybe every kind deed creates a ripple with no end.  The simple gesture of sharing garden goodies is one such interconnection.  We nourish our bodies from the soil and toil of another, knowing it was given with love and thoughtfulness.  Now, what in this big troubled world of ours is neater than that!