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Mother Earth

Gardening with GrasshopperThe Mr. and I spent Mother’s Day in Seattle helping building a deck with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson, who I call the grasshoppper.  It’s usually my job to entertain the grasshopper away from the power tools,  which is hard to do since he really loves all things construction.   That day we were weeding the new raised beds in anticipation of vegetable planting.  He was gleefully pitching weeds and clumps of sod towards the fence, since baseball is his other passion.  I said, “What are you going to plant?  Maybe you could plant some carrots or tomatoes or peas.” “Uh-huh,” he said, then paused and you could see the wheels turning, then he shouted, “I’m going to plant pasta seeds and pizza seeds!”  I said, “That’s a great idea!”  Because it is – the idea that food doesn’t come from the fridge, the store, or even the farmer’s market.  It comes from the garden.

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Sibling rivalry

“I don’t like to cook, ” I confessed to my cook-extraordinaire friend Gwen at a  monthly meeting of my beloved Twilight plant group.  She looked stunned and said, “I didn’t think that was possible.  To love gardening and not like to cook.”   Oh, it’s possible and I come from a long line of women who I inherited the trait from.  I do like to grow vegetables.  I spend hours reading the seed catalogs in winter.  I love the look of spring seedlings in their tidy rows.  I like eating straight out of the garden – a berry, a cherry tomato, a pea pod, a carrot cleaned on the side of my jeans.  The plants themselves are often gorgeous, like the striking mottled leaf of this zucchini, Sungreen from Territorial Seeds.

Doing anything with the vegetables  besides eating them raw strongly implies coming in to the kitchen.  And if I come in to cook, I also have to stay in to clean it all up, all the while looking out the window and wishing I were back outside, like a kid in summer.  But it does make me mad (at myself) at the end of autumn when I am tossing mushy, rotting vegetables into the compost  that could have gone into the freezer or the pantry.  Every year I resolve to be better about eating what I grow or at least giving it away.

There’s a lot of peer pressure to cook these days, especially when you live so close to locally grown food.   We have great farmers and  markets that sell wine, cheese, bread, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, herbs – you name it.   Mr. likes to cook, especially if he has a son-in-law here.  They’ve made pasta, ground their own meat for burgers, fried doughnuts, even attempted cheese and homemade mayonnaise.  Our Utah daughter converted to cooking after three weeks  in France and is today making salsa as a result of  tomatilla glut.  Our Seattle daughter makes her own baby food for our grandson, who I call Grasshopper.  Grasshopper especially likes zucchini and peaches.

It was my sister that finally pushed me over the edge.  This is the “few little things I have for you” when we met for my mom’s birthday.  Even though Janice told me to put the pickles in the fridge for a few days, I immediately opened and ate one of the best homemade dill pickles I’ve ever had.   I had the pears alongside a lonely  peanut butter sandwich dinner  whilst Mr. was away eating something fantastic down in Charleston on a business trip.  It reminded me of childhood – my mother did can all of our fruits and vegetables.

I resurrected Wimpy’s Delight, a hamburger relish from the book Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty and Pierre Le-Tan.  I used to make it every year and give it away for holiday gifts when our girls were small and money was tight.  Our little neighbor friend Stacy used to walk through the kitchen holding her nose and gagging while it was in process.  Mr said he loves the smell.  Maybe what makes people cook is –  love.

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