Mom made simple food. In the later years all she did was fry things. It was faster, easier, and less clean up. But I best remember the nights that Dad was working. She would make breakfast for dinner. We would have pancakes, scrambled eggs, French toast, or oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins. Comfort food for me now, but it was to stretch the food budget back then.
We always had a garden and since my dad’s folks had a farm, we would have access to eggs and chicken. The cows were originally milk cows but later became feeder cattle. I don’t remember getting meat from them. The pigs were the same. Our pork came from the grocery store.
Summer's long days meant canning and freezing the produce from the garden and sitting on the front steps of the farm house in the long evening's twilight shelling peas and tossing the pods to our dog to chew like gum. Mom would chastise us when we would eat more peas than were put in the bowls. Sweet corn was the same. We would cut it off the cob after it had been blanched. Raw sweet corn is a treat that will never have its equal.
The funniest was when Mom over-planted cabbage. She decided to use the bumper crop for a new recipe of freezer slaw. It was the job of my sister and me to grind up the chunks of cabbage in the food grinder. We literally had buckets of cabbage juice sitting around the kitchen. The slaw was a delicious treat that appeared on the table frequently the next winter.
Another year found us buried in tomatoes. My sister took the opportunity to lobby for homemade ketchup. I still harbor ill-will over that. The process of putting cooked tomatoes through a manually pressed sieve not once but twice was agonizing. I made sure that I did not do more than my share of that job. The finished product was not memorable but that could be colored by my resentment of the sieve.
I miss those carefree days of summer that smelled like vinegar, sugar, and spices.
You can never go home again but I sure do think about those magical days - especially now that I'm getting older.