Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Pear of Projects

By the time I went to bed last night, my kitchen table was full of good produce from yesterday's trip to the market (and orchard). So I knew that this morning I'd have to start right away in dealing with it all.

(I think that's why I slept in until the indecently decadent hour of 9 AM.)

I started with the pears -- halved, peeled, cored, and packed into two quart jars and one pint, and covered with a light syrup of water and white grape juice. I decided to can only just over half the pears in the basket as I found a pear jam I'd like to try later in the week.

Next, I canned tomatoes: one full pint of Costoluto Genovese, and three pints combining Goose Creek and the tomatoes found at the market yesterday.

In an essay by Wendell Berry that I read while waiting for the tomatoes to process, I found a sadly true statement:

Though people have not progressed beyond the need to eat food and drink water and wear clothes and live in houses, most people have progressed beyond the domestic arts -- the husbandry and wifery of the world -- by which those needful things are produced and conserved. In fact, the comparative few who still practice that necessary husbandry and wifery often are inclined to apologize for doing so, having been carefully taught in our education system that those arts are degrading and unworthy of people's talents. ("In Distrust of Movements," In the Presence of Fear, p.39)

Like Berry, I am saddened that this state of things has come to be. I do not, however, apologize. I am grateful that I learned these (and other) domestic arts from the Chef Mother (as well as my grandmother and Fabulous Aunt), and I am delighted to be able to pass them on to the lovely Phoenix and to my Granola Girl.

It's worthwhile and rewarding work. It's so satisfying to see the summer's harvest neatly tucked away in glass jars with gleaming metal lids -- to know that, come winter, I'll reach for a jar for my cooking, and I'll get to relive the tastes of summer.

It's work, yes... but it's work that I'm happy to do.

And I may have to get more jars!


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