Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food traditions & Gramma Myrtle

With my renewed interest in WWII transcribing my friend Elsie's letters, I ran across this blog entry from fellow genea-blogger Gena Philibert Ortega titled What did your family eat during WWII? on her new Food, Family, Ephemera blog. She's even got a pic of a ration book and some stamps.

Why not support Gena's blog, and preserve history, by posting a comment over there about what you remember, or what your folks told you about during the war? My reply to her post was:

"I was too young to remember the tokens and stamps. However, I do remember my grandmother Myrtle had a large garden out back. She also purchased items from a local farmer's market. I remember her cellar (a basement of sorts) with wooden shelves of home canned fruits & jams. She put up halved apricots, peaches, pears, whole Bing cherries. She made apricot preserves, blackberry jam, raspberry jam and such. She also made GREAT watermelon pickles and sweet gherkins. "

I agree with Gena that food is an important part of our heritage, and the preservation of those recipes and stories is a necessary component of our family history.

I've previously written about my Gramma Myrtle Eliza (Weiser) Player Severinson's home food preservation:
The photo on the right shows my Gramma Myrtle with her sister my Aunt Grace (Weiser) Jacobs on the right. In between, looking backwards as this pic was shot is Grace's husband, Harley. Since the photo came to me from Grace's side of the family, the notation "A. Myrtle" stands for Aunt Myrtle, and "G. Grace" stands for Grandma Grace.

Below is the published recipe (circa late 1950s) of Myrtle's Mustard pickles:

Mustard Pickles
(From Myrtle Severinson)

Cut up:
50 medium cucumbers
2 qts pearl onions
2 large cauliflower
4 green peppers
4 red peppers

Boil and pour over vegetables:
4 qts water
2 cups salt
Piece of alum

Drain in AM and add:
1 gal. vinegar
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 cup sugar
     Boil and pour over vegetables

Repeat the next day. The following day, drain and heat brine, adding 1 can Coleman's mustard mixed with 2 tablespoons flower made into paste with cold vinegar. Stir in boiling vinegar. Bring to a boil. stirring constantly. Pour over vegetables and seal.

This recipe was printed in a small (3 x 5 inch) booklet titled Our Favorite Pickling Recipes published by Hazel and Al Duris of Puyallup, Washington. Dad once told me these were the people who owned the farm where his mother (Gramma Myrtle) liked to pick up extra produce to can. 

This weekend I'll be putting up 60 pounds of freestone peaches with my daughters Carrie and Stacey, who want to know more about how water bath canning works. (Perhaps my 16 half-pints of blackberry jam put up this week inspired them?) A recent Mother Earth News article "Live on Less" explains that it is cheaper to put up your own fruits and vegetables when buying them in season in bulk than purchasing the same organic items at the store during the year. Carrie managed to purchase the peaches for 50 cents a pound through a local food co-op. Way to go Carrie!


Are you planning to do any canning or freezing this year?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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