Usually two times during the year, my grandma would come to our home for a one week stay. My grandpa would drive her, spend the night, then leave the next morning. “leaving the woman folk to their work.” He would return a week later, stay for a meal, then he would drive them home.
My bedroom was the “guest” room, so, during those times, I slept in a sleeping bag on the sofa.
She came for canning. Late August for all the garden bounty and then again in October for all the peaches, pears, apples and so forth. She didn’t come with presents for us nor did she read stories. She wasn’t the warm and fuzzy kind of grandma. She came to work.
During the week, we 3 girls would have to entertain ourselves, outdoors. We would get to eat lunch in our backyard fort. Popsicle were offered from the doorway. We drank from the garden hose. We played tether ball. Simple dinners were eaten outdoors on the picnic table. We used paper napkins. If by chance the weather was poor, we had to make camp in the family room and color, play dress up, pretend next door neighbor or play dolls.
We were not allowed in the kitchen. It was work, hard work and dangerous. Or so we were told.
Every now and then, I would see my mom and grandma, still wearing their aprons, come outside to hang laundry up on the line or I would see them sitting on the back porch step, talking.
I know now, that when they were sitting on the back porch, sure they were resting their feet, getting some fresh air, maybe a breeze, however, more importantly, that meant the pressure cooker was doing it’s thing and they never stayed in the kitchen while it was working. They re-told horror stories of pressure cookers exploding in kitchens across the land. No one they ever knew personally, just stories passed along. Good news, I have no such story to share about canning in my family, nor anyone I ever heard of.
While my family had more than enough …things, money, nice homes, cars, stuff…….no one I was ever related to nor knew had air conditioning in their homes.
Picture this, today it will be around 90*. Add 90 degrees + hot stove + boiling water + pressure cooker…… well, it just doesn’t sound ideal. It sounds hot and miserable.
Yesterday, I picked a bounty of tomatoes from my garden. (note: from this moment on, when I fill out a form that says: Hobbies______________________. Along with sewing, quilting, cross stitching, embroidery, I am now going to add gardening!)
This morning I cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. Boiled them for 45 seconds, plunged into ice water, peeled then chopped and tossed into the crock pot.
Wait, no crock pot 60+ years ago? They cooked sauce all day long on the stove.
I added fresh picked parsley, onions, garlic lots of garlic, herbs and S & P.
Marinara sauce is simmering as I type. I can freeze some for later use. By adding this or that, it will become pizza, spaghetti, egg plant Parmesan, lasagna or Bolognase sauce. Tonight, grilled mushrooms will be added to the mix and it will smoother some homemade pasta.
I dripped a bit of tomato juice on the kitchen floor. Instead of bending down to wipe it up, I just got out the swifter and made quick work of mopping the floor. Tossed the wet towel in garbage and went about my day.
I did not have to get out the rope mop, bucket and Spic& Span cleaner. I did not have to heft that mop, do the floor, then wring it out with my hands, then rinse it clean, then hang it on the line to dry.
Here’s to all the grandma’s/mom’s that came before us and did “woman’s work”. Read that as hot, heavy duty work, washing and cutting up vegetables and fruits, washing and boiling hundreds (and I honestly mean hundreds) of jars and lids all while still watching children, doing laundry, mopping floors and figuring out what to make for meals.
Today, I for one am mighty GRATEFUL for air conditioning, swifter mops, crock pots, freezers and a Mr. Right who doesn’t call it “woman’s work”.
I have a pretty good feeling, he would offer to take me out to dinner because I slaved in the air conditioned kitchen this morning for 45 minutes.
In this together, folks.