LEARNING TO LIVE OFF THE LAND – PART 3
After breakfast we pumped water, brought it in to boil on the wood stove and finished up the dishes. Now, back to the green beans! But first;
We headed out to the brooder house to check on the 200 baby chicks and to hose down all the chicken poop. Yep, I was homesick and missing my mom a lot. It was still only Monday afternoon.
Aunt Irene said we could sit down and relax before supper. Yeah, a little TV and maybe play a game. Well, relaxing for her meant snapping green beans. So, onto the 40 billion green beans we had picked earlier; snap, soak, rinse and re-rinse. While I was doing all the hard work of snap, soak, rinse and re-rinse she was bleaching and washing out jar after jar, lid after lid, and ring after ring. She had put on gallons of water to boil to sanitize and heat the jars, lids and rings.
After all this snapping, soaking and rinsing was done it was time to get started canning. She had a table set up in the kitchen of what seemed like hundreds of jars. She let me put ½ teaspoon of canning salt in each jar, she showed me how to pack the beans in tightly, get all the air bubbles out, dry off the lip of the jar, and put on the flat and ring. She didn’t have any fancy pressure cooker so she canned with just large pots of boiling water. Those jars had to boil for 3 hours. The kitchen was like a steamy oven, even with the windows open and all I wanted to do was go outside in the 95 degrees to cool off.
We couldn’t leave the kitchen with all that boiling going on so she decided it was a good time to teach me to make homemade rolls and since the kitchen was so warm the rolls would rise quickly – just in time to eat again. As she dumped in the yeast, water, sugar, salt, and flour I asked her how she could do that without a recipe and she said she wouldn’t know how to use a recipe. Odd I thought, mom always uses recipes. She let me help with the kneading and taught me how the dough should feel on your hands then let me help making the beautiful round balls of dough and put them into the pan to rise. Then we had to turn on the oven, more heat.
That night for supper, since she was canning and didn’t have time to “cook”, we had green beans with sweet onion, new potatoes and ham and the most delicious rolls I have ever eaten with homemade blackberry jam and homemade butter.
After we got the dishes all done (AGAIN) and the pots finished boiling, she moved all those green beans back to the table to cool overnight. As we sat and watched TV that night, and my uncle rubbed my sore tired tootsies, we could hear the glorious sound of those lids popping – the sound of the jars sealing and the thought of those marvelous green beans ready for consumption this winter.
As she was tucking me into that amazing feather bed she had made from down from her ducks and chickens she said with excitement – “tomorrow we get to pick tomatoes”!
I don’t remember but I’m sure I slept great that night.