As hot as it’s been this summer, I’ve actually produced a few tomatoes. And they’re delicious.
Makes me think I may expand next year.
Maybe some squash? Cucumbers? Beets?
That you remember looking in people’s refrigerators and finding Mason jars full of purple boiled eggs floating around in pickled beet juice. Like some kid’s science project, but boy, they were good.
Every summer when I was growing up I went to stay with my aunt and uncle and cousins in Oklahoma for a couple of weeks. They lived out in the country for most of that time and had a garden. So every evening after my aunt had worked all day, we would can beets and pickles and green beans.
But my favorite was pickled beets.
It was my job to go out and gather the crop in the morning while she was at work, so I dug up the beets, brought them inside and let them soak in the kitchen sink all day.
After they were cleaned up, we boiled them in this mixture that I can still hear my aunt telling me –
Two cups of water.
Two cups of sugar.
Two cups of vinegar.
While that was boiling, we also had to boil all the jars and lids to sterilize them. It was a whole ordeal every night.
Waiting on the jars to cook and the beets to pickle, we watched Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman! – this thirty minute spoof on soap operas that had to be shown after hours because it was considered so risqué in the late ‘70s. I don’t remember much about Mary Hartman except that she had long red braids and whined a lot.
And I knew my mother would never have let me watch that show at home.
We cooled and skinned the beets and then placed them in the jars, filling the jars almost to the top with the pickled juice.
Stained everything it touched, but there’s nothing better than pickled beet juice.
Except maybe getting to do something that you’ve never done with anyone else.
Something that you wouldn’t ever do again without thinking of the person who first taught you.
Maybe I’ll grow some beets next year.