Somewhere on the dim edges of my memory, there is my Great-grandma Hostetler. My family lived in Northern Michigan and one of the highlights of our year, was making the trip to Ohio to visit our cousins and grandparents. Often, we stayed with my grandma who lived in a big house with my great-grandparents. I don't know if it was a duplex or what, but I know they each had their own kitchen. Sometimes while my brothers were napping and the house needed to be quiet, mom would let me go over to the great-grandparents side of the house. Great-grandma Hostetler would be delighted to see me and I can still her the sound of her voice as she settled me into the chair and asked if I wanted tea and a snack. She would bustle around the kitchen, putting on the kettle and pulling out shimmery orange Fire King mugs. There would be hot mint tea with a bear shaped bottle of honey that I got to squeeze in myself, as much as I wanted! And then, best of all, she'd give me a little china bowl of her home canned peaches. Those golden, sweet circles tasted to me, of sunshine. I'd cut the halves into tiny pieces so I could make my treat last as long as possible. Great-grandpa would sit beside me with his long white beard, stirring his tea and eating peaches. I felt so big, so grown-up. I think of them, my great-grandparents as I stand in my own kitchen peeling peaches, filling jars, keeping a watchful eye on the bubbling canner. I love the richness of tradition, of the women before me who took the time to preserve summer.
Then there are these. Grandma Ropp pickles. This recipe is handed down from my husband's grandmother. Anson's dad tells the story of how his mom would make these pickles in the summer and stash them in the cellar until Christmas time. By then they would be so puckery strong, but they loved them anyways. These are a simple refrigerator pickle that we make all summer long when the garden is full of fresh cucumbers and dill.
Who would think that food could hold such memories? In a time when life is a non-stop frenzy and dinner is sometimes more like ingredients out of science lab then actual nourishment, I love the simplicity of canning. I like slowing down and taking time to pack summertime produce into a jar.