There is nothing so satisfying as setting a plate on the table consisting of all of your own food. Food you have grown yourself — carefully planned for, tended, harvested, and "put by," as my mother used to say.
I recently started my harvest. Greg and I only plant small beds as there is just the two of us. It usually produces enough for us as well as sharing some with family and friends. Cabbages, peppers and squash get eaten right away. We used to make jars and jars of sauerkraut when I was a child, but Greg isn't really fond of it, so this is not something I "put by." But cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, onion, and okra all get processed for future meals.
This year I made refrigerator pickles. I usually can both sour and bread and butter, but this year I planted fewer cucumber vines. So when a recipe popped up on Facebook for refrigerator pickles, I decided to try them. I had enough for two large jars of bread and butter pickles. Greg eats some every day when he gets home from work. He says they are a nice refreshing snack.
My beans turned out great! Last year I only planted a half dozen plants just to see if they did well. This year I planted to full rows and harvested enough for six bags in the freezer. The secret to freezing green beans is to shock them. So you boil them for three minutes, then plunge them into an ice water bath. Once they are cold, you can let them drain and freeze them.
The peas I planted near them did not do so well. This is my second year to try peas, so I will enlarge the bed next year for all green beans. There are so many ways you can cook green beans — broil with garlic, boil with bacon and onions, micro wave with butter and lemon juice. It all makes my mouth water.
So, now I am waiting eagerly for the rest of my garden to "come on." Onions will be harvested next month, followed by tomatoes and okra. And all the lovely squash and peppers in between. Add any of those to our fresh pork, and you have a meal fit for a king!
Photos property of Leah McAllister.