The Dirt in the Farm Kitchen: 9/26/13

Oh boy, let me tell you about the dirt in the farm kitchen and the rest of the house for that matter. Living on a farm creates a whole new level of dirt that can find its way into the house. In an attempt to create a buffer, I have declared the screened in back porch area as the neutral zone, mentally telling myself that this space is ok to have farm dirt in it. But, this is just a mind game. In coming out to the farm, I was forced to see just how dirty of a girl I was really willing to be. Farm dirt creeps its way into every aspect of my life.

This time of year the house explodes with a brand new level of chaos, for it is canning season. From out of the dusty damp basement comes my collection of giant kettles, the pressure cooker, canning racks, and millions of canning jars. And all of it is big and none of it has an actual space to be called put away in my kitchen. So, my kitchen, dining room, and sometimes even my living room and bathroom find themselves cluttered with canning paraphernalia. Not that I had any Feng Shui harmony in my house to begin with, but in the Fall it's hopeless.

What I do have is shelves full of beautiful food and constant aromas of cooking food that I know, in the dead of Winter, will instantly return sunshine to my life, just by opening one of these jars. Releasing the seal of a quart of my Mother's version of tomato V8 juice, made from our heirloom tomatoes and field veggies like parsley, peppers, and onions, holds a kind of magic that is more than just physical nourishment. I can't stop my awakened instinct to preserve for the upcoming Winter.

The more in harmony I am with the land the more aware I become of the many ways I needs to react to changing seasons. Spring and Fall are times of preparation. We await the new beginnings of Spring and witness the melancholic completions of Fall. And so the seasonal wheel will continue to turn in a constant rhythm of life and death. The final and heartiest of the harvest presents itself in Autumn just before we merge into the lifelessness of our next season.

This Fall, I have made it my mission to become one with my canners. My kitchen counter is usually stacked with baskets of fresh fruits or veggies waiting to be transformed into delicious din-din for future frosty nights. You will find multiple salsa recipes on my shelf this year, sitting next to pasta sauce, veggie tomato juice, peaches, apples butter, pepper relish and more. My kitchen and dining rooms may look like a military mess hall. And I might be pulling jars out of steaming pots at midnight, but, the first pop of a sealing jar brings a level of satisfaction that only a fellow canner can understand.
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This time of year the dirt in the farm kitchen is unwashed dishes, heaps of compost, and a floor that could use a mopping. It's a dirty stove top and sandwiches for dinner so we have time for other cooking projects. But the cupboards and shelves are filling fast and our hearts and souls feel fed in ways that our Grandmother's once knew. I can't help but to feel grateful as each year I better learn that if I take care of Mother Earth, she takes care of me.