Puttin’ up & eatin’ food in days gone by

Our rainy days are over and we are experiencing a heat wave. I was ‘slaving over a hot stove’ the other morning, cooking some food to take out to my mom’s. What a baby I am. I had food in the oven at 7 and was done by 8: 30 or so, and of course later on when I came back home, while I don’t have whole house air, I would be able to run my window air conditioners. After my mom’s, I went out to Simmon’s Farm.

I have tomatoes and green beans and some very strange looking cucumbers growing here, but I picked up corn, peaches, lettuce ( mine’s bolted ) and a watermelon there. I picked up for my place and my son’s…they would pay me back.  Whenever I hit the farm, I check in to see if they would like anything. Luckily I was early enough to get the #2 peaches…slightly bruised and half the price. Fresh from the farm Pennsylvania peaches….or any local fresh peaches from your own state…there’s just nothing like it.  The same goes for corn, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, all of it! :)

Nowadays, some of us labor a little in our gardens, and some still do a lot. Some, though…can only frequent farmer’s markets or one or two local farms, and others haven’t tasted a real fresh local fruit for ages. Then there’s our tendency for light meals during the summer…salads and such. And while I can, and make jam, and pickles, I have the luxury of just doing a little bit of that…or being lazy and feeding all of the tomatoes to the grandkids and skipping it for a season. I thought it would be fun to compare…what puttin’ up and eatin’ food in days gone by was like for some folks.

From “Kitchenary” by Peggy H. Landis:

Living on a farm was like owning our own supermarket stocked with very fresh, entirely unprocessed foods. Instead of pushing our cart up and down the aisles, we pushed it around the seasons.”

Mother was captain of the summer garden, and the rest of us marched to her orders.”

Mother always did a good job of bringing the garden to the table. A typical supper menu might have been fried country ham, mashed potatoes or corn on the cob, fresh green beans, sliced cucumbers in a creamy dressing, thick red slices of ripe tomatoes, homemade bread, and sweet iced tea. Fresh sliced peaches from a nearby orchard often provided a simple but delicious dessert.

From “Up a Country Lane” by Evelyn Birkby:

Wooden steps led down to the hard earthen floor of our cave. Bricks lined the walls and low-domed roof. Several feet of dirt and sod covering the cellar kept the inside temperature cool in the summer and above freezing in winter. A clay tile pipe embedded in the center of the ceiling allowed fresh air from the outside to circulate down inside the windowless space. My spirits always rose as I carried jars of food down into the cave and lined them up on the wooden shelves along the wall.”

By the way, this book is not only a memoir but a cookbook. Here is the author using her pressure cooker to can green beans and other low acid vegetable

canning in 1950s kitchen

From “Mrs. Blackwell’s Heart-of-Texas Cookbook” by Louise B. Dillow & Deenie B. Carver, illustrations by John Henry Faulk:

Canning, to my mother, was a form of saving for a rainy day and was as profitable as the modern-day working mother’s trip to the bank on payday.”

” During the summertime, the noonday meal was a feast of garden vegetables, hot corn bread, or yeast rolls and butter, fruit cobbler, and iced tea. ”

large family at the table

“We had a spring and fall garden so there were fresh vegetables from April through December and canned and dried vegetables during the winter months.”  ” Mama canned green peas, green beans, beets, corn, tomatoes, and made chow-chow and kraut out of the cabbage. She pickled the cucumbers, and made jelly and preserves of every fruit that she could find. She dried the black-eyed peas and cream peas, the pinto beans and butter beans. With dried corn, she made hominy.”

Pickles and Preserves Page

in the field illustration

From Reminisce : Around the Table : this memory is from Floyd Hedge, Mountain Home, Arkansas:

My step-grandfather grew tobacco and had a big garden and several fruit trees. It was my job to pick the fruit and vegetables, and then Mom and Grandma slaved over a hot stove all summer to can them and make jams and jellies for the coming winter. “

“I always finished off my meal with peanut butter mixed with either a half-pint of blackberry jam, peach preserves or sorghum molasses.

page 104 full larder

( the above photo is from the Reminisce book. I borrowed this book from the library but there is a website that you can visit to purchase books, magazines, etc. It is listed in the book and can be found HERE  )

From “Country Kitchens Remembered“, by Marilyn Kluger: “ We didn’t know the riches we had in our cellar at the end of those summers. They seem as priceless as the golden peaches of Samarkand when I think of them today.” 



YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY :  Make a Small Batch of Jam   or  Making Delicious Pickles with Little Kids  or  Want Some Tomatoes? 

Sharing at : French Country Cottage / Cozy Little House / Savvy Southern Style / Common Ground


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15 Responses to Puttin’ up & eatin’ food in days gone by

  1. Mimi says:

    I have no idea why, but I have always loved to read what people serve for meals. As a child, it’s what first attracted me to the Little House on the Prairie books. As an adult, I still prefer to read about meals than actually preparing them. :-)

    Consequently, I LOVED this post!

  2. Karen says:

    sounds like you made out good with the fruit and veggies – it is always nice to have – so many of us had rotten luck with our gardens it is nice to now that some had good ones.

  3. You did such a great job on this post. It was nice to read it and remember the ‘olden days’. So much of it is familiar from my childhood and early married life. Thanks for the memories! Hugs, Diane

  4. Bernie says:

    Great post Deb. I love the pictures and was trying to figure out what the time period was on the calendar that was pictured on that fun wallpaper by the woman’s stove.
    I do love hearing about what people are preparing and eating. My sisters and I frequently text each other in the late afternoon to ask what everyone is going to make for dinner that night!

  5. So enjoyed this post…I love to can and preserve and always gives me such a sense of my heritage…I always feel so good after I do? Loved the pictures too. I only have a small section of fun sun and only grow tomatoes as vines and herbs.! I’m bookmarked the book site/book and will check out later. Our farmers market is here, just 5 blocks aways and I look so forward to going!

  6. JoAnne says:

    This is a wonderful post, Deb. I love all of the quotes and pictures. Your fresh peaches sound so yummy – my favorite fruit!

  7. Grandma Kc says:

    I sure wish I could find someplace local to get good peaches but so far no luck. Love the photos of the ladies “slaving away over hot stoves” wearing their pretty house dresses and their best aprons!

  8. Chris K in Wisconsin says:

    We really do have it pretty easy these days, don’t we? When I think of what “doing the laundry” meant to my grandma or mom ~ compared to us pushing a few buttons to do the same job….amazing! Their meals always sound so good. However, they could eat like that and still stay pretty thin because of their daily schedules. We, again, push those buttons to do so many jobs…it may be why we have a weight problem today…myself include!!

  9. Joyce says:

    Your last picture of the lady could have been my grandma! She grew and canned so much, and we enjoyed it all winter long. My mom relied on her so she never did any canning herself – and so I never learned either. I’m too old now to try!

  10. My, those women worked hard. I’ve done very little gardening in my life, a little canning . . . but wow, does it all look delicious! Fortunately, we have a very good farmers’ market here.

  11. Susan says:

    I didn’t grow up with preserving foods, but because of the church, I learned fairly early in my married years how to do it, as well as making jams and jellies. It’s helped out many a time. It’s hard work even today to have a garden, and then everything comes in at once, and it’s hours in a kitchen that’s hot and steamy, but it really is worth it, and so satisfying to see the rows of colorful jars lined up on the shelf. =)

  12. Benita says:

    Deb, these old photos are wonderful and those peaches look gorgeous! I remember my aunt and grandmother canning so many things and it looked like Christmas in the kitchen when they were finished. Such wonderful memories!

  13. My grandmother canned and froze everything. I remember visiting in the winter and she’d give us enough food to take home for several meals. Those ladies knew how to work and provide good meals for their families. :-) There are virtually zero peaches in the state this year. There is one local place that has a few and they are $15 for one of the tiny bags that holds maybe six.

  14. Dewena says:

    Every summer about this time I miss the canning I used to do when I was younger and all the times I helped my mother with hers. And this post makes me miss it even more. The only thing I don’t miss is sitting outside with my father and having 2 bushels of corn to shuck–and coming across an occasional corn worm.

    In my opinion, there is no better meal than the country ham supper described, except it needed some fried okra to go with it!

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