It seems that lately my thoughts wander to childhood memories. Memories of playing in the woods, swimming in the summer, skiing and skating in winterand bike rides in the fall. My thoughts frequently go to a time when I was 10 or 11. Occassionaly I would walk the 3 klm stretch from the point where the bus would drop me off after school to our home in the woods. I was so angry that they would forget to pick me up( later learning this was done on purpose and they felt the walk would do me good). I started off in a fury ,wondering how a parent could be so mean to thier child but eventually throughout the walk I began to notice my surroundings. The way the trees looked in the light, the changes the seasons brought to my surroundings in both sights and smells and how I looked forward to seeing what was around every bend or hill of the gravelled road. One memory brings me to a time when I met up with possibly the biggest moose in history(or so a 10 year old percieved). After scaring the bejeebers out of me, I vowed to learn to climb every and any tree within yards of possibly meeting another animal. I practised for months and seemed to get nowhere. My tree climbing skills were for naught.
Some of my fondest memories are related to food. My mother grew copius amounts of vegetables and flowers. Summer days were filled with food preparations for winter storage. Harvesting and preparing vegetables for the cold season was part of a daily routine. Picking berries and foraging for wild foods were part of our days as well. My father was an avid hunter and knowledgeable woodsman. His contribtion to the table were the wild meats and fish he caught or hunted. Both of my parents were wonderful cooks. My mother loved to experiment. She played with different spices and ingredients and always seemed to make everything delicious. My father was very traditional in his cooking and loved to prepare foods from his younger years in Germany. Both of my parents methods have made thier way into my cooking. They instilled into me, a love for food of good quality and the joy of preparing it.
Enter Farm Boy!
Farm Boy has been the greatest partner in our food adventures. I love to cook…..he loves to eat. Win win!! While he’s mostly a meat and potatoes kinda guy, he has put up with some wild concoctions from our kitchen and mostly without complaint. He does have his favourites which include roasts of any kind and fresh boiled potatoes that taste of earth.
Our children were always included in the planting, weeding, harvesting and preparing of meals. They also have a love of good food and its a joy to see how our love of food is instilled in each of them. Each of them has developed thier own flavour of cooking. I can see some of my influence, but also notice the confidence in thier cooking by way of thier use of ingeredients. They are willing to take chances and try new flavours. I am proud of thier ability and can see how they will carry it on to thier children when and if the time comes.
Our gardens over the years have had many different veggies in them. These days we grow about 20 to 25 diffent varieties and I still get a glorious feeling when I head to the garden to choose what will be on the menu for the evening. There is a smell of sun in the tomatoes and a freshness to the cucumbers that cannot compare. Perhaps it is the daily work of weeding, watering and general care of the plants that contribute to the flavour. Every year I wait with anticipation, for that certain vegetable to ripen and with each year I can detect a difference in flavour. This year has been a dry and hot one and is producing sweet tomatoes that taste of sunshine and strong eye watering onions.
It gives me pleasure to see families with young children growing gardens. I know from experience that it takes alot of hard work to involve children in the process of growing food but the results are enormous. The amount of education involved in my opinion is unquantifiable. Not only are they learning the essentials of feeding themselves, but also the connection to the land. Ipads and cell phones are replacing fundamental knowledge. We are keeping our selves and our children occupied with alot of useless information from computor screens. How do we get back to simple pleasures of eating together, working together and maybe even talking to one another?