Our fourth submission for Tomatopalooza was from Gwen Taylor of Paducah, Kentucky. She is one of the sweetest ladies I know. Her story touched my heart, as I often feel the spirit of my mother and grandmothers when I’m canning.
My daughter Holly called about at week ago and asked if we could set some time aside to can tomato juice.
“Just the way Memaw did because I want to learn this tradition,” she said.
While I don’t have a garden, but my sister does. So I called her and found out that she does not enough tomatoes for canning yet. I also learned that she still has plenty of tomato juice and tomatoes from the year before my mom passed away.
I reflected a bit on why I would even be hesitant. After all, every summer for as long as I can remember, I spent several days– long days in the kitchen with mom and her mom canning and freezing vegetables from the garden. Oh, how I miss those ladies who influenced my character so much!
At noon, Holly and I begin our adventure into the world of canning! One approach, very different from mom and grandma’s approach, was taking things a little slower and embellishing it. That evening, I left for two hours to attend a meeting. When I came home, there was my bouncing baby girl still cooking away. She was on to the Salsa now; apron on, knife in hand, and old country music songs playing in the background. I could feel my mom just as if she was standing in the kitchen with us. These were songs that she used to sing along to from Conway, Merle, and the Oak Ridge Boys.
I am so proud to have a daughter who wanted to continue our family tradition, reminiscing about all that my grandma and mom had taught me and some of the great times we had in the kitchen. We worked very hard and were very tired, but the satisfaction that comes from seeing the “pretty jars” of tomatoes that we had preserved made it all worthwhile!
This “preserving” is not only ensuring that we have tomatoes all year long, but it is also about remembering and honoring those strong women who came before us and passing that heritage on to the strong women who come after us.
Memories are made in the kitchen folks!