Fannie Martin Longenecker: A Grandma Who Knew How to Make Love Edible

September is the month of late harvest. Those who preserve garden fruits and vegetables have proudly counted Ball jars and bags of frozen goodies before storing them to enjoy this winter.

My Canadian blogger friend, Linda Hoye, finds joy in the process and has made an art form of photographing her rich store of nutrition. On her website August 22 she tallied all the edibles she’s canned. Click on the link to see what’s inside those 288 jars along with a list of freezer delights and a dehydrator that hummed with banana chips, cherries, and raspberries.

Linda is carrying on a tradition very much like my mother, grandmother, and generations before her. Here my jubilant Grandma Longenecker exclaims, “All the lids on our Ball jars have sealed with a ‘Pop'” as my mother looks on.

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The September 2016 issue of The Mennonite magazine has featured an article with several of my Grandma Longenecker’s recipes, including the savory chicken pot pie recipe I helped her make as a girl. Here is the link to this story. (On the link, click on the left arrow where the story begins.)


Do share your memories of the canning process – pride, joy, the arduous work – even mishaps are welcome here around the kitchen table.

Mother saying goodbye to her canning jars before sending some of them to the Re-Use-it Shop
Mother saying goodbye to her canning jars before sending some of them to the Mt. Joy Gift & Thrift (PA)

Do you still preserve garden food for the winter? We’re all ears!

“I think of my canning as fast food, paid for in time up front.”

~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 

Produce from author Elaine Mansfield's crop (Facebook, 9.11.16)
Produce from author Elaine Mansfield’s tomato crop (Facebook, September 11, 2016)

 

Coming next: An Artist Writes Memoir: Joan Z. Rough’s Scattering Ashes

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Canned

I have just finished reading The Dirty Life, On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. And today my blogger friend, Susan Nicholls, has posted a piece entitled “Canned” complete with appetizing photos of the canned goods, stored on shelves for savory eating on wintry days like these.

Kimball’s book describes how she trades a life in the publishing world of Manhattan for growing vegetables, raising pigs and cattle on the farm of a man she had interviewed just months earlier. The story is told with the backdrop of the old/new movement toward local food, community-supported agriculture, a network of consumers and farmers who share the benefits (and risks) of food production. Consumers pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest and then receive honey, eggs, meat, and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, whatever is in season.

Susan’s blog post “Canned” is a reminiscence on the stored wealth of nourishment in the cellar of her childhood. In her post today she recalls her grand-parents’ farmland and the “garden” of one and one-half acres her own family cultivated when her children were little. She reminds us of so much we take for granted in our land of abundance. Read it above!

S.K. Nicholls

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I was in the grocery store yesterday and browsing the local produce…much of it not so local, being shipped from Chile, Spain, Costa Rica, California, and Mexico, but fresh nonetheless. Fresh watermelon and cantaloupes year around!

It is January and there were fresh beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, asparagus, squash, cucumbers, cabbages, snow peas, avocados, apples, pears, oranges, tomatoes. We take so very much for granted in this global economy. I am not talking smartphones, computers, and tablets, but simple luxuries, like fresh food.

My grandparents had a huge farm, and they had a garden that covered three acres. They taught me about gardening and harvesting.

When my own children were growing up, we had an acre and a half that was garden space.

I can’t say that we grew organic, because pesticides and herbicides were used. I can’t say it was better or worse for us, but it…

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Beauty in Jars: 2 Vignettes

Beauty in Jars I

Yesterday morning, Mom assessing my cosmetics on her bathroom vanity: “What are you doing with all that stuff?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “I wouldn’t know what to do with it all,” see adds as she eyes my jars of moisturizer, foundation, concealer, makeup remover.

MomMeBeautyblog  Mom continues, “I’m happy with the face God gave me. If He had wanted it different, He would have made me different.” This from the now elderly woman whose husband said to her when they were dating, “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

 God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.      Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Beauty in Jars II

Mother has a smooth complexion for her age—genes or good eating, maybe a combination of both.  She is definitely a foodie, always has been. After eating a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios, juice, a banana and coffee, she asks, “Do we need a piece of chocolate now?” as she opens the box of confections from NaNa’s Homemade Sweet Treats in E-Town.

Our last chore together this PA visit is to wash the jars for canning in her basement cellar—Except for a few vintage jars, she’s giving most of them away because as she nears 95, she’s says, “I’m done with canning.” The jars filled with tomato juice, beets, peaches, apricots, pickled cantaloupe, strawberry jam, and pickles were simply beautiful as they lined her wooden shelves each season. There were even green beans before she had a freezer. Every year, her mother-in-law Fannie helped her chop an array of fresh vegetables for piccalilli, or what the PA Dutch call chow-chow. Now she’s donating most of the jars to Goodwill, but keeping a few vintage Ball and Mason Jars. A few have metal clasps that hug the glass lids.

VintageCanJars MomG'byeCanning Jars

            Vintage Canning Jars                       Mom saying goodbye to canning

 All the cliches come to mind here: Beauty is where you find it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You’re beautiful inside and out.

I say, “Beauty is ageless.”

What memories of canning, long ago or recent, do you have? Share your story!