You Planted a Garden During the Pandemic: Now What?

I will not lie, planting a garden and watching it grow is very rewarding. Now more than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic we need to see that life goes on and is beautiful. Also, we are stuck at home and that yard or patio should serve a purpose, and what if the food chain supply runs low??!!  We need food!!

There you have it…gardening is a great hobby, and a purposeful hobby. You will see plants grow, you can control what soil they grow in, and nothing beats a freshly grown vegetable for taste. Yet… what if you dug up your whole yard for your garden? And what happens when everything ripens at once? You either have a huge feast, or you learn how to preserve your harvest.

When most of us were kids, our Moms and Grandmothers didn’t have the internet or social media to get recipes from, or to research how to bake something. They had cookbooks and old recipe cards that an elderly auntie scribbled her secrets on that you placed on your counter so many times they are now stained and ratty looking.

If they wanted to try something “new” or “trendy” they cut out magazine recipes, or collected pamphlets put out by well-known brands. My Mom and relatives were notorious for this! Though I have to admit, I rarely saw the results. They were big dreamers, but stuck to the basics most of the time. Thankfully they saved several of these gems.

Here is one from the WWII era. It is only 3 inches by 5 inches.

During WWII the food supply chains were disrupted and a good deal of resources had to be processed and sent out to the troops. Every family was encouraged to plant their own gardens for their own needs. If they had more, they were asked to share with those who could not have gardens. These gardens were called “Victory Gardens.”

Just like back then and soon to happen to your super garden, you can’t eat everything as it is produced. You are going to have to get creative with your bounty.

The fun part about this small pamphlet is that there are several assumptions. One is that you know what a double boiler is and how to use it. AND you know how to safely can and pickle.

For that time period, that was not a stretch at all. Canning vegetables, meats, and pickling was a necessity. My Mom passed on some of her canning supplies to me, but I fell back on my favorite book: Putting Food By to learn how to safely can and pickle using a boiling bath method. Here is my old copy and my favorite recipe.

Please do your research if you try any of these recipes and plan to not eat them right after you cook them. Food poisoning from a poorly preserved method is no laughing matter. See a link at the end of this article.

Disclaimer done, moving on.

Another noted fact about these recipes is that they contain common ingredients found in most kitchens of the 1940s.  Oh look, turmeric is used all over the place! What is old is now new. Recent articles say it helps hold off heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and is an anti-inflammatory. Mustard seeds have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient Greek and Roman times. Celery seeds have calcium, iron and magnesium. Grandma knew what she was doing. 

Can you still get the dry mustard that sponsored this pamphlet? Not being a fancy cook myself, I did wonder that. Lo and behold, my local supermarket carried it.

And you should be able to find all the basic ingredients mentioned here and in other older comfort type food recipes. Well, hopefully once the food supply chains calm down.

These recipes can be time consuming. Nevermind, that is all we have now is free time! For my favorite pickles, you had to factor in the time to slice up the cucumbers and onions-good thing I had a vintage Veg-o-Matic and slave labor (my young sons). And yes, I had little boys standing on chairs pressing down on deadly wire chopping devices and stirring hot pots on stoves. They had a blast and are great cooks now.

My last observation is about “Connie Coleman”. Here is “Connie” during WWII when fabric for a nice dress is scarce, hemlines were lower, and glamour you only saw in the movies, gracing a recipe pamphlet. We know that is not how women who were cooking for their families looked like. Who could wear heels for hours while canning and pickling? Who would want to? But, her big smile and fun hair does draw you in and maybe for a second make one think that all that hard work will make you look like a winning gal!…..Maybe not…

Back to the present and us: So…. in this time of needing to go back to basics and comfort food, keep the heels in the closet and bring on the flour covered hair and faces! Bring on your messy kitchens. Bring on your men and child cooks!  Bring on the smiles! Keep baking and cooking and posting your wonderful accomplishments!

Atwood..not a chef, but plays one in my kitchen.

Fun bits;

As seen on TV! You can see an original Veg-o-Matic at the Smithsonian-or in my kitchen cabinet. It slices, it dices-(with a lot of force!)

If you feel inclined to reproduce the above recipes, great care must be done to learn how to safely pickle and can food items. Oh, and I would love to hear about your results.

Dive into the history of mustard, its pretty extensive and entertaining.

This article is copyrighted © 2020 Atwood/N.A.M. Parts of this article may be linked or quoted with credit given to the author. Some images shown are taken of a privately owned pamphlet produced by Colman’s Mustard, French’s Spices January 1944. The author does not have any financial or personal connections to these companies, nor do we endorse the recipes posted. We do like mustard and pickles.

The 4th Grade Book Report Re-visited

Recently I discovered my mother had saved a folder of book reports I completed when I was in the 4th Grade. What am I going to do? I’m going to read those books again and see if my opinion has changed. Would I have outgrown what I thought was entertaining?

4th Grade was a weird year for me. I don’t remember much. I can’t even conjure up the teacher in my mind, which is odd, seeing I can rattle off every other teacher’s name, from the one who use to lock me in the coat closet for being disruptive, to the teacher who let me tell wild stories at “Show and Tell”, to the teacher who sent me out to do puppet shows for younger kids because I probably exhausted her.

Hmm, seems to be a theme growing.

4th Grade must have been a calm year. So calm I forgot it. I did learn from former classmates our teacher was nice.

Here we go


(I am going to use the same format my 4th Grade Teacher gave us to fill out.)

Title: Henry and the Clubhouse

Author: Beverly Cleary

(I didn’t have access to the original book I might have read. Hopefully the one I bought is close to the same version)

First Observation: I was happy to find out I actually read the book in 4th grade. I don’t remember reading any fiction books as a kid. I could say someone else read it and told me about it, but the way I expressed myself, that says I read it. Maybe I was bribed.

Why didn’t I want to read fun stories? It was tough for me as a dyslexic kid with ADHD to put that much effort into sitting down and reading.

Write three good sentences telling about the book:

I wrote: “Henry was the youngest paperboy. He started to build a clubhouse too. He had troubles and problems all thought the book. The book was very funny”…”When Beezus and Ramona get into action which causes Henry’s trouble.”  Seems my teacher had issue with those sentences, she circled “telling about” in red pen. Hey, I was just warming up!

Second Observation: The funny parts my 4th Grader self pointed out, were still funny. My adult self would want to add the main character riding downtown in a bathtub to that list.

I learned the story has not been updated like they have done to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, even though the cover has. I am not sure kids today could relate to his being a paperboy and what is involved, or the fact he had to search all over for a phone, etc. Adult me found those elements nostalgic and the life lessons of hard work and tolerance were good to see.

Tell about one interesting part of the book:

Third Observation: The life lessons the author was trying to point out, went right over my 4th grade head. Stuffed owls scaring dogs and dogfights seemed more interesting to me back then.

Tell where you found the book, if you liked or disliked the book, and why you liked or disliked the book:

Fourth Observation: WHOA, slow down there Teacher! That is a three part question! How did my brain handle that?

I wrote: “I like the parts when it was around Halloween. Mrs Peobody’s dog Ranger was in the fight with Ribsy”  (Ribsy is Henry’s dog) “When Henry came to the door Ranger ran under the chair and wouldn’t come out. He was scared of the stuffed owl Henry was carring. At last he came out.”…and this is my favorite line, bringing it all home…“Mrs. Peabody bought a paper from Henry.”  Now doesn’t that just want you to read it to find out why he had a stuffed owl and she bought a paper from a paperboy? I thought so back then.

I said I found the book in the library. I don’t remember going to the school’s library. Did it have one? Now I have to find out. (sending message to a classmate who actually read books in school-she said yes.)

Ouch on the red pen circling the word their..or as I normally like to write it, thier. Hey, I wrote it correctly this time. I would see a lot of red pen in my school years. Two vowels together was always a popular tripping point for me. I could never “see” how they worked even after someone sang me that rule about “eyes after eees except after seas…” Hmm, why didn’t she red pen all the other misspellings? Must have been the compelling story I was weaving.

Back to the if I liked it: “Some parts were funny.” “There were not many sad parts.” There you have it. I liked upbeat stories!

Would I recommend this book to a child? Yes, for sure.



Title: Skip (I found the vintage book on-line)

Author: Aileen Fisher

Write three good sentences telling about the book:

I wrote: “The book is about a girl named Krissy and a dog named Skip. The story tells the troubles that Krissy had to get her dad to now that Skip was a good dog even if he is blind. Krissy had trouble keeping the secret.”

First Observation: I seem to be getting better at writing them.

Second Observation: Now I know why in the first book report I added “There were not many sad parts”. This book is full of suspense and should have been titled: “What animal on the farm is Dad going to kill next?”

Tell about one interesting part of the book:

When I saw the author of this book I did get excited. She is one of my favorite poets. Her poems are full of her love of nature and are soft and sweet. That comes through in this book when she describes going up into the hayloft (the mow): “The mow smelled good-dry and fragrant, as if a piece of summer had been hidden there away from the snow and cold.” Having played in haylofts as a kid, the author’s description did bring back memories. And look, I did mention the mow in this section of my report, so it made a good impression on me back then, too.

“I like the part when Krissy ordered Skip to come down from the mow. Skip tried to come down he missed the step and fell to the ground. Luckily Krissy grabbed skip in time and held him on the third step.  That is when she found out Skip was blind.”

Tell where you found the book, if you liked or disliked the book, and why you liked or disliked the book:

“I found this book at the school library.” Guess I did go there a few times!

“I liked this book because Krissy always feels bad for Skip. She was the only one that was helpful to Skip. There were many places that was sad and happy.”

My 4th Grade self seemed to like this book. My guess because it was relatable.

Third Observation: As for the whole storyline, sweet is not the author’s main direction. Would the events talked about be shocking to a kid of my generation, or a kid who grew up on a farm? No. The father character could have easily been mine. My Dad started out in life as a poor farm boy who understood animals had their place which meant they either fed the family or worked on the farm. My Dad had no issue with the circle of life and I suppose I didn’t either. That is why in my report I focused on the relationship between the farm dog Skip who went blind and the main character who loved him and tried to make him look useful to her father so he wouldn’t get rid of him.

Would I recommend this book? Looking at the story with a present day child in mind, no way would I put this on the shelf of a library. (I also would not let kids of today read “Where the Red Fern Grows” for the same reasons.)

I like how the story shows kids being personally responsible for chores, animals, siblings, to their parents, and keeping the family afloat. I’m scared those values are slipping away. The first book I posted about also did that, but not in such a harsh way.

According to my 4th Grade self, it does have a happy ending-if you can get there!

What fun it has been reading these old book reports. Or should I call them book reviews, because that is really what they are. As we all shelter in place these days, go ahead and grab a book from your childhood and read it for the pure simple joy of it. The words won’t be difficult, the pages will fly by, the fun will be silly, and you will find yourself relaxing.

Until next time, take care and stay safe!


This article is copyright © Atwood/N.A.M. 2020. All content and images are copyrighted unless otherwise noted. Please do not use in any form without request of author. Links to our articles, short quotes with credit, and associated links are allowed.

For more childhood book memories, please check out my previous article on “Nancy Drew: Then and Now” , and “Wonder Woman: Then and Now”.

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