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.

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