Tonight, I’m indulging in something that I’ve taken up only since I’ve turned 30 and moved back to my hometown … canning.

It sounds so strange. I have few if any memories of my mother canning. She managed to accomplish it pretty rarely what with four kids running around the house and being a full-time teacher.

But she knew enough to coach me through my first few attempts after I moved home to help out when she was diagnosed with cancer. I dug through her cookbooks and the web for obscure canning recipes and gave chutneys and jams and applebutter and spaghetti sauce to the friends and neighbors who stopped by with casseroles and baked goods when she was too ill to cook … and after her funeral.

Now, I have her canner in my own kitchen, along with a set of canning utensils from a favorite aunt and another canner from my godmother.

And tonight I’m making my mother’s mother’s recipe for bread-and-butter pickles. My kitchen smells of onions and hot vinegar and the crickets are chirping outside.

And there’s a long line of strong women standing behind me, watching over my shoulder as I invert the hot jars to seal them.

Pickles, anyone?

Grandma Doris’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles

5 Med. Cucumbers (do not peel)

5 Med. Onions

¼ c. Pickling salt

1 c. Vinegar

1 c. Water

½ tsp. Celery seed

½ tsp. Mustard seed

½ tsp. Ginger

¼ tsp. Turmeric

¾ c. Sugar

Thinly slice cucumbers and onions. Mix together in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with ice and let sit for two hours. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Heat the rest of the ingredients to boiling. Add cucumbers and onions. Cook slowly until tender. While still hot, put in three hot, newly sterilized pint jars (enough mixture & juice to fill). Clean mouth of jar and seal with hot, clean lids. Tighten. Invert until cool

This is Shelley, 35, standing over a steaming canner in my kitchen in Iowa, USA.



Originally uploaded by auntieshelleyk

I couldn’t resist sharing
(… and it took me a while to figure out how, believe me!)