The Preservation Kitchen – A Giveaway – Remembering Aunt Mary – Preserving a Family Tradition
I remember my Aunt Mary’s kitchen on warm summer days. No air conditioning, just a slight breeze that pushed and pulled the curtains at her window back and forth like waves coming onto the shore and receding back into the ocean. Her kitchen always smelled like heaven, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, but in summer, always like cantaloupe.
Her garden lay beyond, the acre that always held the promise of goodness, planted lovingly in the spring…tended in the early summer and harvested when ready. First, the tender peas and early lettuces, then the carrots and green onions, finally her brood that took a bit longer to mature…the beans, zucchini and the ever present cantaloupe. I inherited a few things from her that I hold dear, this is her original garden layout, scribbled on the back of an old campaign poster.
On the days that Aunt Mary was canning, her steamy kitchen was a whirlwind of activity…prepping, scalding, sealing and soon her kitchen was filled with jars full of the bounty from her garden that we would enjoy for the rest of the year…especially on Thanksgiving (her special holiday).
What was always a constant was her infectious laughter and her willingness to administer Brewer’s Yeast for anything that might ail you. Aunt Mary was an original. She was organic before it was cool. Stacks of Prevention magazine grew in the corner. When everyone else was adding chemical fertilizer to their garden, Aunt Mary was finding manure that could be delivered…she eventually had enough livestock to keep her in plentiful supply!
Sunday suppers from her kitchen were simple, straightforward and delicious, reflecting her rural Indiana roots. Her garden was the same way, no pretense, just an honest acre freshly tilled each spring and lovingly planted and nurtured.
When Aunt Mary died many years ago, the most palpable thing that I had to keep her memory alive to me was the two jars of green beans she gave me from that summer’s harvest. I’ve kept them all these years…they are the ones pictured here.
Maybe (probably) Aunt Mary was the mental force behind my labor of love last year…doing the prop styling for the wonderful new cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen from Chef Paul Virant and Kate Leahy.
Chef Paul Virant is an original as well. He brings big city flavor paired with down home canning for a very individual approach. New flavors are created when you pair canned, pickled and preserved ingredients with those fresh from the garden. He couldn’t have a better writer to express his vision than Kate Leahy. Working with both of them was a pleasure and an honor.
I love the recipes in their book, and Aunt Mary would have too.
I thought that it might be fun to have a giveaway so that you can start your own canning/preserving adventure along with me. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite Sunday supper memory…it doesn’t have to be long, just a few words will do. Please comment before midnight EST, May 12, 2012. I will print out all of your comments and draw one name and announce the winner next Sunday, May 13th.
Got to mention, I bought this book that I’m giving away and I’m not being given any compensation…I’m doing this because I believe in integrity of the recipes…working with Paul and Kate was a joy, they are the “real deal”…no pretense, just great recipes and great writing. Also, got to say that I was given permission from Paul, Kate and the folks at Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.