Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Why I’ll always Cherish the Hottest, Driest Summer Ever August 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 8:40 am
Tags: ,

I have lived in Texas since the age of 1/2 years.   Always an outside kind of girl, when weather moved me inside, I learned to make due.   Often times, I attempted to cook, inventing food recipes, to pass the time.

So, it is no surprise, that during this most awful drought and heatwave of Austin’s history, that this avid gardener, would find refuge inside my kitchen.  After a banner tomato year, I took classes to learn how to safely process loads of tomatoes.  This act, has lead to an undeniable obsession with canning in general.  I have taken several classes, and canned loads of fruits and vegetables, and have enjoyed the process more than anything I have done recently.

My best friend has always been my sweet mother – the person from whom I inherited my ability to socialize and make friends.  She was always president of everything, involved in everything, and on the go.  Illness has now robbed her of her short term memory, and for several years I have struggled with ideas for spending time with her.  We go to lunch frequently, and sometimes go shopping or to the movies, but she isn’t always up to those things.

Her illness has been a difficult thing to deal with at times, and my canning obsession has been somewhat of a refuge from it,  for me.  There are so many things in life I cannot control, but the amount of sugar and fruit in a  pot, I can.

One day, after lunch with mom, I asked her if she wanted to help me make jam, and she enthusiastically agreed.  So, I put her in charge of reading me the recipe while I peeled apples.  She offered to help peel, and I reluctantly gave her a paring knife  and we peeled away.  

She was completely engaged in the whole process of jam making.  We talked and cooked, and she stirred and tasted.  We filled jars and celebrated their sealing.  Mom delighted in the tinging sound when each jar sealed.  She got to go home with evidence of our time together.

So now, each time I can or pickle something, if she is able, mom is in my kitchen, reading me the recipe, helping peel, chop or measure.  Yesterday, we made strawberry jam, from frozen Boggy Creek Strawberries I got from the farmstand a couple weeks ago.

Macerating Strawberries

Reducing the Syrup

Strawberry Jam

I will always cherish this record setting hot summer, as the summer my mom and I got to spend together, enjoying each other’s company, making yummy food, and being together.  Even though she won’t remember it, I hope I always will.


24 Responses to “Why I’ll always Cherish the Hottest, Driest Summer Ever”

  1. Kristina Says:

    Wow! You just brought tears flooding. What a beautiful story. You made me re-think this dreadful heat and think of it as a time to too cherish. Thanks.

  2. Carla, this is such a sweet post. And, what a great way to spend time with your mom. Sounds like you both are having a great time!

  3. Diane Dixon Says:

    Carla, I love this post and am so glad you have this time with your mother. It is sealed in your jars and in your heart forever.

  4. Kathryn Says:

    Carla, you’ve got me crying! What a beautiful reminder of why we all love to cook so much. You are a gem. 🙂

  5. Cecilia Says:


    What a beautiful and moving post. At teh end of her life, my mother had severe dementia. How I had wished I lived near her to share the garden and cooking–which were the gifts she gave to me. I am touched by how you and your lovely mother continue to share and bond. We are only limited if we choose limitations.


  6. Shelley Says:

    What a lovely tribute to your relationship with your Mom. I hope she is having better days lately. Going to call my Mama now.

  7. Jennie Chen Says:

    Big HUGS to you and your mom!

  8. Claudia A Says:

    Carla, this is exactly how I feel about my mom. Thankfully she is still in good health, but it is so hard living so far away from her! I call at least once a week and exchange recipes and talk about what we’ve been cooking lately. I grew up in the kitchen with her teaching me her passion for cooking, and we absolutely love to cook together. These sort of things are priceless. Enjoy your time in the kitchen with your mom!

  9. Joy Says:

    So glad you are having memorable moments with your Mom. My mom suffered the same illness and I never got to can with her as an adult, but the many summer days of helping her shell, shuck, peel, and process fruits and veggies as a kid are such wonderful memories that flood back as I can my own fruits and veggies. She is now gone but her handwritten recipes and knowledge are with me every time I break out the canning supplies.

  10. Susan Gayle Says:

    When we had the canning party at Kate’s you told me of the discovery that your mother so enjoyed the peeling of the apples. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found this. I had always imagined I would have times like that with my mother when she was ‘older’ and would, of course, live nearby. She canned tomatoes, green beans and peaches when possible during my childhood. Sadly, she and I didn’t get to have ‘older’, so it makes me doubly happy/sad to hear how wonderful this time with your mother is. xo — Susan

  11. Jodi Says:

    Carla this is such a lovely post, and such a lovely activity that you are doing with your mom. The roles have certainly reversed with you as the mother and her as the child but what an amazing thing for you to be there for her. My mom is also my best friend and we used to make strawberry jam together for a few summers in a row and mom would be in charge of the canning while I would make the pretty labels. Such great memories. I’m going to forward this post to her as well. xoxo

  12. Wonderful post. I lost my mother in 2004. Everything I know about cooking, I learned from her. Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s