When it comes to food I carry on my ancestor’s tradition

So my hubby and I went to the 3rd Annual National Heirloom Festival yesterday at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds where fecundity flourished. Seeds galore and becoup info on why to oppose GMOS-gene modified organisms.  It is a mantra I intuitively agree with, along with nine other countries, like Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Luxumbourg, Austria, Hungary and Poland which ban Monsantos GMO corn. In fact, Monsanto has abandoned it’s GMO crop push in Europe. It’s interesting how those against GMOs connect it to being anti mom’s apple pie.

No GMOs

I spent a great deal of time by the Santa Cruz County based Mountain Feed and Farm Supply who had a huge display of fermenting veggies. And for a mere 20 dollars you could own one of the gizmos to get you on your way to fermenting every food morsel in sight, as long as it fit into the half gallon Mason jars, whose top had a strange looking tube sticking out of it. ( Wish I had taken a photo.) Click here they look like this. Anyhow, I asked the young woman why I needed that little contraption when I had already successfully made traditionall “Jewish pickles’ using only salt brine, a crust of rye bread, fresh cukes placed in a clean crock, topped with gauze, and a platter held down with a cleaned flat rack. “Oh You don’t,” she said,   “Go ahead and continue doing what you do. This is just for people who are afraid to begin fermenting food. It’a a beginner kit. You’re obviously past this.” This made me feel great. “Will do,” I smiled back feeling part of the fermenting nation. But she got me thinking I really should upgrade my system. I mean using an old crock pot insert and a flat rock? I was better than that. Maybe I did need that five gallon crock all set up with weights for holding down the pickles in the brine, and a water seal lid, imported from Poland, no less, the very land of my ancestors. At $140.00 it was still tempting but way too large, although it was the size my grandfather, Constanty Lupinski might have used in his Polish deli/grocery store in Irvington, New Jersey in the 1930′s-50′s. I wasn’t ready for that much fermenting, “Do you have anything smaller?” I asked. “Yes, but we’re out. You can pay for it now, and we’ll ship it for free.”  ”I’ll think about it,” I said. I sauntered on. Well it didn’t take me long to get pulled in at the Architectural Ceramic Design station. Wow, Here was a bevy of rainbow colored, hand-hewn pottery. and amid all that sat several fermenting crocks–all in various colors, from red to yellow to orange. “People are getting back into fermenting,” Alan the potter said. No kidding, I thought. Gee I was one of the forerunners of a trend. I puffed out my chest and took in all the simply devine colors. (hint: click on the website to see them, you’ll see what I mean). Plus the feel of the items is light, yet you know it is handmade. “I used to work in a beauty salon,” said Donna his wife and potter partner, “I know how to throw and blend colors.” It was apparent to me she was expert at it and putting all of her color energy into the pottery business as I looked at her lovely long but natural grey hair. Okay so I bought the red,orangey one.  My grandad would be proud. And I even found a recipe for pickled apples which is a good thing since our golden delicious tree gave us five bushels this year.

All in all it was a a good day yesterday and I feel connected not only to my own heritage, but to so many others, (mothers and fathers) who also used the process to survive way before refrigeration was a gleam in anyone’s eye.

How different we are from our mothers

How different our daily lives are from that of our mothers. You only have to go visit the vintage kitchen exhibit at SVMA to see that (Kitchen Memories: Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection thru Dec. 1). There you will find a collection of unique kitchen tools which now qualify as antiques (by definition items over 50 years old) but which rained commonplace in my mother’s kitchen– from the handheld eggbeater to the retractable clothesline,  

And then there’s the hand coffee grinder made of wood which my grandmother used daily but now sits unused on the top tier of my kitchen cabinets.

Coffee Grinder

 

 

My husband recently splurged on a Cusinart coffee maker which provides us with up to 12 cups of coffee with the press of a button. The beans stored in the device get ground automatically. All you need to do is empty out the gold mesh strainer containing the previous day’s grinds, and pour in the requisite amount of water, whose level you can determine from a see-through section of the container.  And if you should forget to empty out the previous grinds because say you’re still in a fog from your night’s dream in which you won the lottery, well, never mind, the apparatus detects it and beeps away at you, and stays on strike until you change it. The

Coffee Maker

first time I used it, I had done just that, and so responding to the rhythmic beeps of the thing I figured out intuitively what was wrong. I blurted aloud to the machine, as if it were alive and talking to me with it’s beeps, ” How cool. You are a coffee maker for an idiot; anyone can use you.” And like I said it’s actually my husband’s machine;  I’m primarily a tea drinker. He didn’t take offense, though which I surely did not intend, my words flying from my mouth as an accolade in amazement at this “smart” coffeemaker. And that’s how he took it as I proceeded to dump the grinds from the basket and re-push the start button. I could hear the heating element processing the water. All systems go. The coffeemaker was actually my husband, Bob’s latest toy of which he seemed inordinately proud, since he had plucked it up at Big Lots during our stay at our daughter, Kiva’s apartment in LA. She in turn had been chauffeuring us around her favorite bargain haunts, Big Lots occupying place number two on her “go to” list of best LA deals. The first spot won by the Goodwill in Inglewood where she lives. (That fun experience the topic of another post).

It seems our generation craves machines which make our lives simple, and men involve themselves in purchasing culinary items, ones which are user friendly, and don’t require much thought or effort to use. Presumably then we can direct our minds toward more lofty levels, such as oh I don’t know…just loftier thoughts. Okay, like fantasy football for my husband,  and morning newspaper reading on my ipad while we await our morning brew. How different we are from our mothers.