Sunday, December 17, 2017

An Old time Kitchen

Well I am not up early. It’s 6:00 am. But thought I could write about pickles while I visit with Papa. You would be proud of me. I have a pickle recipe in front of me. But I have made enough bread and butter pickles in my day to not need a recipe anymore.

Ok, you need about 5 pounds of cucumbers and a few onions and green peppers. Just take a big pan and put cold water in it and slice the cukes up in it with the onions and peppers. You don’t have to peel the cukes. Just wash them good and slice the cukes with the peeling on them.

Put the cukes and onions and peppers in the pan and add salt to the water, a half cup of regular salt, or table salt. Stir the salt about so it is mixed up good. And make sure your pan is big enough so the water covers the cukes, etc. You can lay a dinner plate over the cukes to keep the veggies under water. They need to sit overnight.

Then the next day, just drain the cukes and put back in the drainer. While they are resting in your drainer, make up the syrup for the pickles. In a big pan on the stove, pour in 5 cups of sugar and 5 cups of vinegar. I use white or apple cider … it don’t matter. Ok, then add the spices. The spices are a tablespoon of celery seed, 2 tablespoons of mustard seed, half teaspoon of turmeric … 1 teaspoon of ginger. Stir all of this up good … then add your cukes. Bring all of this to a simmer and let it simmer a few minutes. Don’t boil.

Fill your washed and cleaned jars with the hot mixture. Then just seal them with a canning lid and ring … and you are done. Now, if the jar don’t seal, you need to use those pickles first. Just put them in the fridge and use them for the family.

Ok so I lied. I have a recipe here that is for 2 pounds of cukes and so I am trying to figure all this out to go like my recipe. Well, dang, I don’t use a recipe and have lost the original years ago. But you all won’t try this unless I say I am quoting from a recipe. But this is how I do it. I always use the 5 cups of vinegar for the 5 cups of sugar. Then my spices go like this. A teaspoon of turmeric about? … and I always use turmeric … ya need that for sure. And I always put in mustard seed, about 2 tablespoons. But the rest is inspiration. If I have some fresh garlic, I would hide some in there. I may add some black pepper. In one jar, I may add a hot pepper … or a head of dill. I put in whatever flips my trigger.

And I pickle whatever looks lonely on my table. I have used this recipe to pickle little green tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery. I have pickled a lot of zucchini if my cucumbers didn’t do well. I just cut the zucchini up to look like pickles and the family didn’t know the difference. I have pickled watermelon rind just once and that was another recipe. It was pretty good, really.

I have made apple pie with zucchini when I ran out of apples. You can cut it up to look like apple slices and, if ya put enough brown sugar on it and apple pie spices, no one will catch ya. I have even made apple butter with zucchini. I have made jam with zucchini.

Jillr used to make pineapple slices with zucchini. She would take a big oversized zucchini, clean out the seeds, then slice it, and it looked like slices of pineapple. She had a sugar syrup she would make using a can of pineapple juice. Then she would put this in quart jars. Jill would get a bone from the store and cook it for a few days with onions, etc. and can up the broth.

The old time mothers during the Depression would send their child to the store and ask the butcher for a bone for the dog, but they had no dog. Then Mother would make a broth and feed her family soup for supper. Hey, ya do what ya gotta do to make it, huh? The butcher knew all those folks comin’ in askin’ for dog bones didn’t plan to give it to the dog. But he knew the family was hungry and had nothing to eat, and he respected their family pride. Mother did whatever it took to keep the family warm and fed and happy.

And ya know, if ya make jam or jelly and it don’t turn out, or set up, then pack it in your cupboard and use it for pancake syrup. Or you can use it in bread for a cup of the liquid. Or in muffins or whatever.

The old time mothers didn’t use recipes. They used what they had in the cupboard and nothing was wasted.

I use a pressure canner to can beans. Yet the old time mothers didn’t use anything but the water bath method to can their beans. For my tomatoes, I use what we have always called the “open kettle method.” I just have 2 pots on the stove. One is the tomatoes boiling and the other is the jars and canning lids and rings boiling. And then you work quickly to fill the jars while everything is boiling. Then you cap the jars and you are done. You have to work real fast and make sure the children aren’t around at the time … or they could get burned from splashing hot water. I am thankful to say I have never burned any of my children during canning time. But my kitchen is so small that there is no room in there for more than one person, anyway.

I have the Little Rose today, later this morning.

Jim used to help his mother can when he was a boy. She canned outside and it was Jim’s job to dig two fire pits and put bricks around them for the big washtubs to rest on. One washtub held the jars and the other one held the food to be canned. Mom Hultquist made all sorts of things in her washtubs. She made ketchup, pickles, and canned many vegetables for the winter. She made root beer for the neighbor children in her big washtubs. She canned her corn on the cob in big jars. She made many different kinds of pickles.

All the old timers made a barrel of sauerkraut for the winter to keep in the root cellar. But you can make sauerkraut in a few canning quart jars. Its easy — it just has to ferment. I am good at fermenting. (No snickering from the balcony, thank you so very much.)

In the fall, I make blender ketchup. Jim loves it and even puts it on his fried potatoes … it is so delicious!! I make it in the fall after all the other good tomatoes have been canned. My sister-in-law Kris used to let me come and glean the rest of her tomatoes she didn’t want in her garden after she had canned. And in the fall, I would take the less than perfect tomatoes and clean them up and make tomato sauce and ketchup. Kris had the big farm garden and often planted extra for me, plus I had my own town garden.

The old time Mothers would make piccalilli in the fall. Just before a frost, they would pick the last of the vegetables in their gardens. They may have a handful of beans, and some small green tomatoes, and some onions and dill. A few small peppers and a few cucumbers. Some little heads of cauliflowers, cabbage, or broccoli that grew back after the big heads were cut. But whatever it was, they picked it, as they wouldn’t waste anything. They would take these odds and ends into their kitchens and put it all through their steel grinders mixed with vinegar, sugar, fresh herbs and spices. And they made a pickle relish and canned it for their winter family tables.

Most old time families had pickles on the table for most every meal and snack. Also homemade breads and berry jams and home churned butter. And this was not so long ago. And we can do all of this now, if we need to, or if we just put our minds to it.

Mom Hultquist had to have all her canning done by Saturday, as she needed the washtubs for the Saturday night baths. Then Monday, she had to have them for wash day. She had 13 children and never lost one through any kind of neglect. That says a lot for her. Never had a miscarriage and raised her children right through the Depression era. What a woman.

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