The Garden — Favorite Foods of Long Ago

Thinking of what to plant in my garden this year makes me think of my mother’s fantastic garden!  Having a garden prompted some very wonderful foods that may have otherwise been left undiscovered.  At least that is my opinion.  I feel like we ate some of the things we did because of the abundance of garden foods that only last so long.  My mother’s garden was huge and I mean huge.  Where her garden was is where three houses are now!

It was great being able to play outside all day and just grab a snack when you were hungry without going in for lunch.  Just pluck off a tomato and eat away.  Rhubarb was always fun.  We use to all get a stalk and on the count of three take a bite and see who could go the longest without puckering up.  We loved it, but that first bite was always a challenge. My mouth is watering just thinking of that sour first bite.

Mom was very creative with vegetables…. cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, potatoes, green onions, only the tops of the green onions, zucchini, and more and even pumpkin blossoms! Mom would make cucumber slices and onions in a vinegar, water, sugar combination.  I still make that today, but sometimes I add sliced green, yellow and orange peppers.  It just depends on which way I feel like having it.  We would have fried cucumbers and even cucumber sandwiches.  My favorite was cucumber on toast with butter and salt.  The very best, however was a toast and tomato sandwich.  Before I had all of the food allergies, I would still have that for lunch.  So good with butter and salt.  So many things we would eat on toast or just plain bread and butter….. radishes, green onion tops, cucumbers and tomatoes.

The salads were awesome.  Sometimes we just had vegetables with salad dressing and no lettuce.  Mom canned a lot and froze a lot of things.  We had the best vegetables year round.   She kept the potatoes and perhaps some other things in the basement that was accessed from outside so that kept them fresh longer. She was even creative with that.  She kept her canned goods in the basement, too.  The tomato juice and canned tomatoes were bountiful. There was something she canned that I would love to have but I do not have any idea how she made it.  Perhaps I can google that and find it somewhere but it was green peppers with cabbage in the jar and some sort of liquid.  I think it was a vinegar concoction.  It was delicious whatever it was.  It may have been picked cabbage if there is such a thing.  Speaking of that, she even made pickles, both dill and sweet pickles.  When she canned, I remember her saying that she loved the sound of the lids popping because that meant the seal took and the food would be good and last long.  We would be watching television when she had finished and you would hear pop….pop….pop.  You could look over at mom and just see her beautiful smile.  Dad would look over at her and smile back and wink at her.

My mother made fried green onion tops.  They were so good!  She used the recipe for wilted letttuce, I believe.  I am not sure, but they were so good. They were totally gross looking though.  We called them frogs. Haha.

Then, there were the fried goodies.  She would either batter them and fry them or just fry or saute them.  Fried green tomatoes and fried cucumbers were my favorites.  She also fried zucchini and pumpkin blossoms, just about anything you could think of.  As the garden neared the end of the season and everything we could use had been used, there was always the final use.  The rotten tomato fight is what we called it.  It was not just tomatoes, though.  It was whatever vegetable we could find to use for a weapon! The neighbors, of course, joined in.  People were all over the garden tossing vegetables at each other.  (Well, not exactly everything!  You weren’t allowed to throw something dangerous such as a potato, cucumber or pumpkin.) Tossing is putting mildly.  Haha.  Such a great time.  When you think about, it we made fun with everything back then.  Such creativity and imaginations.  They truly were the good old times!

We had a peach orchard, blackberry, gooseberry and raspberry bushes and we grew strawberries.  The fresh fruit and pies and desserts were the best.  There were plenty of these to freeze as well. My mother worked so very hard. I plant a small garden here in town, but nothing will compare with my mother’s garden and her fantastic cooking!

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