Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food Preservation at the Close of Harvest

Growing up, I spent summers on our family farm. Rising early and staying on the job until past sunset, day after day, we worked together to bring in the crop (in our case, grass seed), and with each passing year, I understood more the cycle of steadfast diligence and reward.

I watched my dad's efforts across all seasons, patiently waiting on the rain, monitoring pests and disease, investing in the health of his crop. And I experienced the satisfaction of collectively leaving the last field, on the last day of harvest, and celebrating with the crew and our families at pizza.

Harvest took precedent over nearly everything else during those summer months. It was a seven day a week affair, with a late start on Sundays. At the time, it was an incredible treat to leave early on a few occasions in Jr. High to go to summer camp. (Thank you, Dad!)

I'm reminded of those days when I find myself in the kitchen at midnight, attempting to make the most of the summer's bounty. I tell myself that it's only for a season...and that we'll celebrate the fruits of our labor when we sit to enjoy homemade pizza sauce on a cold winter night.

And the thing of it is, I truly love the labor. My back might ache from standing too nails may be stained tomato kitchen may look like a disaster area...but at the end of it all, I love the satisfaction of pulling out a jar of homemade jam, or canned peaches, or frozen pasta sauce.

Too, I love the reminder of time... The milestones. The recipes that resurface at the turns of the seasons. There is a richness that reminds me to calm from my otherwise frenzied pace. There is a poetry to "...seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night..." - Genesis 8:22

Bethany's Homemade Pasta Sauce

Heirloom tomatoes (Claudia's Country Kitchen & Gardenripe CSA)
Basil (Gardenripe CSA)
Peppers (A sweet farmer ~ Lents International Farmer's Market)
Thyme (Montavilla Farmer's Market)
Garlic (Community Table ~ Lent's International Farmer's Market)
Red Onion (Montavilla Farmer's Market)
Olive Oil (Trader Joes ~ I don't have an olive grove...yet!)

Roasted until the wee through my trusty food mill...packed up and frozen...ready to make a bright and cheery appearance at dinner~

"Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables, preserved our landscape, and inspired us with a powerful work ethic..."
~ James H. Douglas

For the food on our table, I thank farmer Bill, farmer Claudia, the farmers from the various stands at the market, the interns and crews and employees who labor in the fields to watch and grow and weed and water... And for the lessons in diligence, loyalty, and hard work, I thank my dad, the best farmer I've been blessed to know.


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