When last I posted, I spoke of grand plans to do some Junior League cooking while on vacation with my family.  Technically speaking, this was possible.  We had a condo on Virginia Beach, a kitchen full of utensils and pots, access to a grill and fresh local seafood, and a copy of Tidewater on the Half Shell.  However, the sun was shining, the waves were tasty, my niece and nephews were cute and fun, and the last thing I found myself wanting to do on vacation was cook.  So, I didn’t.

Apologies to the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach, but cooking can happen anywhere, anytime – even regional cooking.  Watching a 3-year-old discover that the ocean exists only happens once, and it is pretty fun to watch.

After a few days at the beach with my family, Brady and I ventured on to our nation’s capital, where I made my pilgrimage to the Julia Child kitchen at the National Museum of American History:

Julia Child's scary kitchen implements

Julia Child's scary kitchen implements

And while there, we went through the ongoing exhibit Within These Walls, which tells the story of five families who lived in an Ipswitch, Massachusetts house over 200 years, through their furniture, household appliances, and other personal artifacts.

The part of the exhibit on the Scotts, who lived in the house during World War II, focuses on their kitchen, and their ration books.

The objects in the bottom right corner are compressed balls of tin foil.

The objects in the bottom right corner are compressed balls of tin foil.

And the exhibit gave me an idea.

So, this week, I’ll be cooking from the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s cookbook, Winning Seasons (1979), because it has a large and extensive pickling and preserving chapter to draw from.  Most Junior League cookbooks include a token 4-6 canning recipes, but Winning Seasons has page after page of delicious-sounding pickles, relishes, and jams, most of them cherished family recipes.

Now, you may ask, “Mary, have you ever canned before?”

And the answer to that is, “No.”

However, when I was little, my parents did, and I was forced to help.  My grandparents own a working farm that’s been in the family for over a century, so when I was growing up, my canning job was usually to go out and weed and/or pick the vegetables and/or fruits that would eventually be canned.  I was kept far away from the parts of the operation that involved boiling and pouring things that were boiling.

So, one still might ask, “Mary, do you know HOW to can?”

No, but I’ve seen it done.

As far as I can tell, it involves:

This +

This +

This +

This +

Would you trust this woman with your nation's Victory Preserves?

"We'll have lots to eat this winter, won't we, Mother?" Um... sure, kid +

= PROFIT!!!

= PROFIT!!!

Right?

Seeing as I spent $80 today on jars, pots, funnels, lifting devices, and pickling cucumbers, I suspect there will be a lot of canning going on this summer.  And, not to take the suspense out of it or anything, but if this goes even remotely well, people are probably going to be getting a lot of pickles and jam for Christmas this year.

Don’t complain.  When the zombie apocalypse comes, you’ll be grateful.

And, if next week, I haul all of that stuff to the curb, and vow never to can again, you’ll have a good laugh at my expense.

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