Simmered Beef Blackeyed Peas and Turnip Greens

Vicki Tells All – How She Got Hooked on Canning

“Special Thanks to Cajun Clark for his generosity in sharing this canning information.”

Growing up, we ate self-sufficiently.

“Well, Caj, when you ask me why, or how this all came to be about me canning. I had to figure that out myself before I could give an intelligent answer. Growing up, we ate self-sufficiently. Every vegetable we ate was from our own garden, canned to keep all year round. All the meat we had was from Daddy, trapping or shooting it.

“We ate really good, too”

We did eat some strange things though; like possum, raccoon, rattlesnake, skunk (we didn’t actually eat this. They fed this to the store keeper who ate pork and beans out of the can) (‘Be nice, Vicki, be nice.’), muskrat, wild goat, deer. That most of the time didn’t come out of a can, but you get the general idea.

I remember my mom saying one fall that she wished she had a hundred dollars to spend at the grocery store to get enough things to last through the winter. Most people spend a hundred dollars a week now days (I don’t), but this gives you the idea that we ate the majority of things we had out of jars canned at home.

“My grandmother is the type of woman who if you stop by her house, you have to eat with her if it is anywhere near mealtime. We always had a feast at her house, and except for the cornbread, it all came out of a jar. Simmered beef, okra, black eyed peas, turnip greens, pepper sauce, pickles, cream corn.

It was fit for royalty.

“I want to be able to feed guests the same way, and the neat thing is that it didn’t take a lot of time to prepare this for a meal. Simply because, it was already prepared. The jar just had to be opened and the contents heated up, so my grandmother had quality time with her quests and not all her time lost in the kitchen.

My mother cans everything

“My mother cans everything she can get her hands-on, and she gives what she doesn’t need to one of her three girls for their families. She never wanted the jars back when they were emptied. She always told me that I might decide one day to use them to can something. And she was right.

We’ll Make Plum Jelly

“We were transitioning from Texas to Virginia one summer when we happened to be in Alabama on our way north. The kids and I were walking and found some wild plums, and we picked them and took them back to Mamas. She immediately said, ‘We’ll make plum jelly.’ And she actually stood over me and made me prepare it. She and I both knew it was right then that I was caught, hook, line, and sinker! I loved it, and it gave me such a fulfilling feeling to look at those jars on the counter and imagine the enjoyment. We would all have been feasting on it later. And believe me, Caj, we did too!

Let’s Go Fishing…

“Now on to modern days, we live spontaneously, and do a lot of things on the spur of the moment. My husband walks in from work, and says, let’s all go fishing. right now! We can be gone for hours and who wants to cook after skinning catfish at 9:30 at night? So we open a few jars, carrots, some beans, stewed beef or deer, potatoes and tomatoes, dump ’em in the pot with a few seasonings, and quicker than you can say presto change-o! Instant Stew! Splendid stuff too. I guess you could say it’s sort of a prepare ahead thing, so that when you don’t have any time, all the ingredients are ready to go for a decent meal.

It’s Fun! It’s a Challenge

“Most of all though, it’s fun! It’s a challenge, and it is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And it makes me feel like a Proverbs 31 woman for sure.”

Talk about telling it all, Vicki most certainly did that; now onward. You know canning can be productive, result in better meals when you’re rushed, and it can be fun, too. But if you don’t know the two different types of canning processes, and everything you’ll ever need to know about jars, you need to. Soooo…

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