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.

Good luck!



20 Responses to “The Preservation Kitchen – A Giveaway – Remembering Aunt Mary – Preserving a Family Tradition”

  1. 1

    Heike — Monday, May 7, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    My most favorite Sunday supper memory is of my grandmother, my mom and myself eating together every Sunday during my teenage years and then playing Canasta afterwards. This was over 25years ago in Berlin, Germany. Good times.

    • Susie replied: — May 7th, 2012 @ 11:24 am

      Thanks so much for your memory…I too, used to play Canasta with my family…usually on Saturday night.

  2. 2

    Diane OConnor — Monday, May 7, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    I grew up in Amish country in Pennsylvania where the most delicious fruits and vegetables would grace our dinner table from the local farmers, spring to fall and fill mason jars to supply our winter table with the warmth of those summer days. I too grew up with windows open and the steamy canning jars bubbling in their pot all summer long. My mother is no longer here, but her love and passion for cooking and baking filled our Sunday dinner table with culinary wonders long before it was trendy. I travel from Chicago to Pennsylvania each month to visit my Dad, now 90 and it is when we sit down for our Sunday dinner that we most miss my mother and her savory delights. She would be over joyed for me at the culinary journeys that I am able to travel down each week on my computer to seek new foods to cook up in her pots and serve on her dishes. It is an honer to share these adventures in her kitchen with my father and continue to fill my memory bank with the most precious gifts one could ever ask for.. time together with those I love lingering over food from our neighbors land lovingly cared for from seed to harvest.

    • Susie replied: — May 7th, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful Sunday supper memory!

  3. 3

    Sandy — Monday, May 7, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Oh, this a great opportunity, Susie! A gorgeous cover photo and nice recipes I guess!
    We have had a strong sunday supper tradition – every sunday there was a roast meat – we call it “Braten” and the special thuringian dumplings made of raw potatoes. Kids got a compote, in most cases preserved fruits picked form the garden and preserved by the grand-grandmother.
    I’m a big fan of preserving and canning. Last week I made a rhubarb-raspberry jam with star anis and vanilla bean.
    With best greetings, warmly, Sandy

    • Susie replied: — May 7th, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

      Your Sunday suppers sound wonderful! Such good memories! Thanks so much for your comments Sandy!

  4. 4

    Mary — Tuesday, May 8, 2012 @ 10:46 am

    We either had fried chicken or pot roast! I want that book. I starting canning about three years ago!

    • Susie replied: — May 9th, 2012 @ 11:22 am

      Love chicken, love pot roast…thanks for joining in!

  5. 5

    Deb — Tuesday, May 8, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    My favorite Sunday supper memory is helping my mom prepare Sunday dinner. We usually had roast chicken, sometimes meatloaf and for special occasions roast beef.
    Always with some type of potatoes and a fresh seasonal vegetable. The best part was making the dessert! I’m sure this is where my love of baking comes from.

    • Susie replied: — May 9th, 2012 @ 11:23 am

      Sounds like wonderful memories, thanks for participating!

  6. 6

    julee jingle — Tuesday, May 8, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

    Hi Susie.
    What a fun giveaway! My favorite Sunday memories are all with my gramcracker. she lived about an hour away and we would leave for her place after church. the drive was always too long! But she made the very best Sunday dinners for us. My favorite dish was her corn casserole; mom always loved her stuffed peppers. And she always had lemon drops in the candy jar. How I miss her still!

    • Susie replied: — May 9th, 2012 @ 11:24 am

      Delicious memories….corn casserole, yum!

  7. 7

    Start Your Own Preservation Kitchen — A Modern Meal Maker — Wednesday, May 9, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    […] is a self-professed novice canner. She recently started to document canning memories on her blog, Return to Sunday Supper. Right now she has a batch of lemons preserving, so I’m waiting for the report about how they […]

  8. 8

    Jamie — Thursday, May 10, 2012 @ 5:28 am

    This is such a beautiful, touching post about your Aunt. And she sounds like such an incredible woman! I absolutely love that sketch of her garden she kept in her notes. And you know, my mother-in-law jarred and canned loads of things, fruits, vegetables, jelly…yet I never did and I should really start doing it. I would love to learn how. What a wonderful giveaway!

    • Susie replied: — May 10th, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

      Thank you so much for commenting, Jamie. Yes, Aunt Mary was really one of a kind. I wish that I’d paid a bit more attention to her canning, but eager to learn.

  9. 9

    Carol Sacks — Thursday, May 10, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

    Lovely post, Susie. Such powerful memories. I keep returning to the photos of the garden “blueprint” and those jars of green beans.

    • Susie replied: — May 10th, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

      You know Carol, it’s really incredible that I have held onto these things for so long, but I’m so very glad I did…guess I’m incredibly sentimental, but her legacy lives on…now, more than ever. Thanks so much for your comment.

  10. 10

    Rachael Warrington — Friday, May 11, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

    Our family’s best memory was Sunday Dinner after church. Mom made home made rolls, they would sit in the fridge rising and would be popped in the oven the moment we got home.
    The Menu:
    Round Roast with browned potatoes
    My Mom’s Famous Salad with Italian dressing
    Hot fresh rolls

    This is heaven on a plate!

    • Susie replied: — May 11th, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

      Sounds simply delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful memory.

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