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.
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.