Our garden was SUCH a flop this year, for the first time ever, so needless to say, I can only dream of having a pantry such as the one described below (from The Country Kitchen by Della T. Lutes). It makes me long for those "simpler" times and is an inspiration to do more (and better!) next year.

"Autumn is here. The blue of October sky grows thick, is filmed with grey. The apples are picked and barrelled, to put in bins. Baldwins, selected for long keeping, Northern Spies, Greenings, Jonathans, Seek-No-Furthers, Russets, Gillyflowers, in the bins for more immediate use, or, if the cellar is unsafe in coldest weather, in the apple pit outside. Lovely names, incomparable fruit. Cider and vinegar barrels are full. ---

Cellar and pantry are stocked. There is a barrel of wheat flour in the latter, at least a twenty-five-pound sack of white sugar, with as much of brown, and a sack of buckwheat flour, with another of corn meal. When these are used up we shall go to the mill. There is molasses in a big jug, and coffee, tea, and other groceries on the shelves. And the bean barrel - we must not forget the bean barrel, for it plays no inconsiderable part in the winter diet.

In the cellar, besides the bins of apples and potatoes, the piles of squash, turnips, and cabbage lying on the uncovered ground, there are cupboards and shelves full of canned and preserved fruits. Perhaps a pan of broken honeycomb, for my father always kept a few hives of bees.

My mother (as did all her contemporaries) began this preparation for winter with the strawberry crop. When the best and heaviest pickings were over - those that brought the best price - the preserving began, until there were dozens of glasses standing in back in a dark corner in order that the delicate colour might not fade.

Following the strawberries came raspberries - 'rawsberries,' we called them - black caps, and red, also transmuted into jam to be eaten on freshly baked bread for supper or used in tarts; gooseberries for a 'fool' or to be served with game; currants - many, many glasses of jelly, for this makes the best jelly roll, and is the best accompaniment to the chickens, turkey, or game dinner.

Jars of cherries, plums, pears, peaches, and small stone crocks opulen and fragrant with preserves: citron, quince, gingered pears.

And pickles! No end of pickles. First of all there was a barrel of cucumbers preserved in brine. These would be taken out as needed, freshed in cold water, and then soured in spiced vinegar. There were crocks of sweet pickles, mustard pickles, chowchow, piccalilli, watermelon rind. Bottles of catsup - chili sauce. ---

In the attic were bags of nuts, strings of peppers, and bunches of herbs - sage and savoury, as well as those of medicinal nature. And dried apples in some! Ah how pungent was the air, how teasing at every turn was the odour of this provident brewing during all the days of summer and fall. How infinitely satisfactory to the housewifely eye was this cumulative show of conserved surplus, this prescient gratification of anticipated need, this lavish prospicience to individual and family appetite.

Not the cleverness of a well-turned verse, nor the glut of colour in a glowing canvas, can more fully slake the thirst of creeation that does this rich provision for her family's needs satisfy the true home lover. And as a remedy for boredom, ennui, or a flagging spirit, I can recommend nothing more salutary than a garden for production and a cellar for preservation of its harvest."


Post a Comment