I am blessed. I have had the privilege of living life the way my grandmother and great grandmother and those before them lived. No, I don’t live in a little house on the prairie (they didn’t either, by the way), but I have lived in a multigenerational household. Right now we are down to just two generations, but a few months ago we had four generations living under our roof! What was normal “back in the day”(grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, all of the kids, and maybe Aunt Katy and cousin Billy) is abnormal today. The nuclear family has been reduced to mom and dad and the kids. Grandma and grandpa live somewhere else, like Florida. Aunts, uncles, and cousins are scattered hither and yon and it is rare for more than three generations to congregate in the same place at the same time. We are a very transient society. It’s kind of a shame. I think our young people are missing out on the blessing of hangin’ with the old folks and the old folks are missing out on the blessings of, and benefits from, learning from the youngsters.
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of experiencing what would have been a normal occurrence just a couple of generations ago. Some of the Eichler/Moyer “women folk” gathered together to process several bushels of peaches. It was such a success we are planning our next canning session to take advantage of apple season. But first, let me tell you about Peach Day.
My younger daughter, Lindsey, was given the opportunity to gather as many peaches as she dared from a local orchard. She took her two sons with her and they headed out with two very large grocery bags.
She then called in the reinforcements (me) to help her figure out what to do with all that fruit! I gathered together the troops (my sister, Kathy, and my mom) and together we drove the 2-1/2 hours to Lindsey’s little house on the mountain. We took plenty of supplies with us.
First we blanched, then we peeled. And peeled. And peeled.
And peeled. And peeled. Do you sense a theme here?
Finally done! We had bowls and bowls overflowing with juicy cut peaches!
Now the fun part! We cooked the fruit along with pectin and sugar to make peach jam.
Twenty-six jars of peach jam later we started on peach butter. Yum.
The process of making peach butter is similar to the jam, but the peaches need to be blended smooth. No pectin is added. We added cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot and let it cook down until it was a little thick. Then we ladled them into jars to begin the water processing. It took hours to get all of the peaches cut, cooked, and processed.
What do women do while cooking together in the kitchen? Talk, of course. And laugh. And talk more. We had so much fun!
Finally we were finished. We stacked all of the jars together so we could take pictures in order to (1) gloat over our awesomeness, and (2) prove that we actually canned all of this stuff. By ourselves!
Oh yeah! We did that!
We weren’t quite finished in the kitchen though. We were hungry since we didn’t stop to eat the entire time we were working on the jam. So, what do four ladies do when they are just too tired to cook? Call out for pizza? Eat bowls of cold cereal? Not this group of pioneer women. No way. No how.
We made Pho. That’s Vietnamese for Best. Soup. Ever!! Easy to make. AND SO GOOD! Go ahead. Drool over this picture!
Udon noodles in a chicken stock infused with fresh ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, shredded chicken breast, bok choy and assorted vegies, topped with crispy shallot, cilantro, bean sprouts and lime. Did I already say crazy delicious?
But wait, we weren’t quite finished. Lindsey’s oldest, Graham, wanted a peach dessert. We still had some cut up peaches put aside to make a peach crumble. Lindsey popped that into the oven while we ate our soup and voila’, after a day of smelling peaches, Graham was ready to eat some.
What a great day! Working side-by-side with my mom, sister, and daughter was such a blessing. We vowed to make canning fruit and seasonal vegetables a regular occurrence. It was a lot of work, but so rewarding. My mom told stories of her life growing up in the 20’s and 30’s; times long past, but still fresh in her memory at the age of 92. We made some memories of our own this weekend. Memories that will last far beyond the last bit of jam scraped from the last jar.
I am blessed. And grateful. Grateful that my mom is still alive to share these special times. Grateful for my sister, who has become one of my very best friends. Grateful to live close enough to at least one of my daughters so we can continue to make fun memories together. For us and for the next generation. My prayer is that one day all of my kids and grandkids will live close enough so that we can share more times such as these. To make memories to last a lifetime. To make good food to nourish our bodies and our spirits. To be a family that values and appreciates family togetherness. Yep I’m blessed.
So, what does one do when those feelings of overwhelming gratitude and blessing need to be expressed?
Jump for joy, of course!