Lost Art

September is National Preparedness Month. Are you ready for a natural disaster … or an unnatural one?

This got me thinking of my grandparents’ generation who grew up during the Great Depression. They were very frugal and had an entire skill set that seemed to have gotten lost along the way but is now seeing a resurgence. My grandmother (Dad’s mom) passed away recently. She was a remarkable woman who knew all these lost arts: She canned, used grey water for her garden, composted, recycled … all before any of these activities were cool.

Grandma at my Cousin's Wedding

My sister presented the best eulogy at her funeral. In it, she mentioned my grandma’s chow chow. Even before the funeral I’d thought of making some and canning it, I’d even already found a recipe for it, and the eulogy moved me to action.

Me: DH2U, would you be willing to sacrifice some of our green tomatoes so I can try to make something that might taste like crap?

DH2U: Um, okay? What do you want to make?

Me: Chow Chow. I hated it as a little kid, but I might like it now.

Not only did he agree (what a good sport he is), he helped me harvest a ton (okay 6) of our green tomatoes for the cause. After buying all the rest of the ingredients, I was ready to go.

The following night I chopped up all the veggies, added in the requisite amount of salt, and set it aside. I’m so glad I read the recipe thoroughly in advance, because there is a 12 hour gap between steps one and two. Here is what everything looked like as I started the cooking phase.

Chow Chow Before

Step 2 the next day was the creation of the pickling fluid.

Chow Chow Pickling Fluid

After I had cooked up the veggies in the vinegar/sugar mixture, jarred everything, and had the water canner going, I tentatively tried some of the excess chow chow that hadn’t fit into the jars. DELICIOUS!

I bounced into the living room to give DH2U a taste. He became an instant fan.

“How on Earth did I not like this as a little kid?!?!?!?”

“I think it is the vinegar.”

For whatever reason, I’m so glad I had the courage to spend all the time making it, while not knowing if I’d like the end result.

It was as if my Grandma was standing over my shoulder, because everything went exactly as the recipe said it should. That is not always the case with my canning. Case and point: Today I am a guest blogger at Plan and Prep Daily, where I tell about when my strawberry jam fought back! Please check it out!

Have your tastes changed since you were a little kid? Do you know any of the lost arts?

2 thoughts on “Lost Art”

  1. GReat post – I read this wondering what the outcome would be…would she like the chow chow? would she? And love the question you posed to dh2u – would you be willing to sacrifice for something that might taste like crap? How promising…..

    Have you ever read, The Kitchen Daughter? I loved the book and it’s right down the lines of your comment, “it was as if my Grandma was standing over my shoulder…..

    Going to check out your guest post now. Strawberry jam? yum!


    1. Now you see why I love DH2U so much … I can describe remembering something tasting like crap, and he’ll still be willing to try it! I am so glad it doesn’t taste like crap. I’m sure my Grandma would be so happy to see me making an entire meal that is essentially a chow chow delivery mechanism: black eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread.

      Thank you sooooo much for the Kitchen Daughter recommendation. It is now in my Paperback Swap queue. It looks so good! If you want something in a very different yet tangentially related vein, try “How to Be an American Housewife”. I will be reviewing that coming up soon.

      And thanks for the comment on Plan & Prep Daily!!!!! I hope to get asked back there soon.


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