Monday, May 16, 2016

Back to Stove Stories

For years my mother wrote a column, Stove Stories. She believed that food was more than what was on the plate, it was the mystic around, it the family legend. I still use many of the recipes not just because of the memories but because I love eating them. All the recipes can be found here.

DON'T you just love pickles, jellies, jams, marmalades?

I do and feel the Pennsylvania Dutch deserve a “tip of the tam” for their seven sweets and seven sours approach to meals.

There is, of course, a huge variety of commercial preparations on your supermarket shelves and most of them are excellent, too. But these just don’t have the same appeal as those marked, for example, “From the kitchen of …” where your name shines forth.

Really, unless you’re over run with your own home grown fruits and vegetables, I’d not be apt to go out and buy the fresh ingredients from the local farmers’ market or favorite produce stand. No, I’d opt for the commercially packed with a few exceptions like the recipes included here. (Editors note: her daughter disagrees.) But that’s just my view.

There is nothing, but nothing, of course, as scrumptious as the aroma drifting from a kitchen where canning or preserving is in progress, whether you grew, bought or were given the ingredients.

Whatever your decision in this department, the recipes herein are quite different from any you’ll find either in supermarkets or in those marvelous gourmet shops that seem to be mushrooming around the country. I can spend hours in these, whether it’s the shop devoted to utensils and kitchen aids or the kind that features foodstuffs not available in ordinary markets.  I treasure a knife found in a kitchen shop along with many other items, but that knife remains my favorite above all others. Had never seen it before and haven’t seen it since.

And the crackers, mustards, cheeses, teas, coffees, and on and on, to be found! But back to the subject at hand.

We spent two autumn days a few years ago in my sun-dappled kitchen where many hands made light work. That was the last year we had time to have a garden. What fun we had, laughing and chopping, smiling and slicing, endlessly stirring, skimming, pouring and sealing.

Much of the fruits of our labors went into Christmas baskets for city dwelling friends and relatives after we took care to see that our own pantry shelves were generously stocked.

From that all out autumn effort, you’ll find four pickle relish and just one for jelly – the pepper relish jelly that I always have on hand, even if I have to buy the ingredients despite my feelings on that score.

The other recipes can be made any old time not being at all dependent on the garden’s bounty.

If I had to choose one favorite from this chapter, it would be the pepper relish jelly, (editor's note: will be published here in the next couple of days) but I don’t have to make a choice. They’re all so delicious, so easy to make, and I feel so delightfully domestic during the making, storing and best of all, eating!


Back in my newspaper days I was assigned to do a feature story on Ann Morgan of Gray and Cole Nursery,Inc., and before we got through the interview the talk had turned to cooking.   


Ann is an accomplished hand a growing, freezing, canning and cooking. When she mentioned “zucchini pickles” I was intrigued for that was the year of our last garden and we were overrun with the ubiquitous zucchini.   

Ann very graciously wrote out the recipe for us and it was a top favorite then and now.
  • 3 quarts thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini squash, (If you want to use up your larger zucchini, slice thinly and halve or quarter, dependent on size).
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced    
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 tsps. mustard seed
  • 1/4 cup pickling salts
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cups vinegar                                             
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard 
  • 2 cups sugar
Combine zucchini and onions. 

Sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water and let stand two hours.   

Drain, rinse with fresh water, drain again.  

Combine remaining ingredients in enamel or stainless steel kettle and bring to boil. Cook two minutes.   

Add zucchini and onions, remove from heat and let stand two hours.  

Bring again to boil and cook five minutes.   

Ladle hot into hot sterilized pint jars and process in boiling water bath for five minutes to ensure a seal.   

Makes about four pints.   

You’ll be asked for this recipe! 


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