Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tomatoes, Sister's toes, pack rats and nails, tomato soup from canned tomatoes.

My Sister and Red both had beautiful red hair, I say had because at our current ages the grey has taken away some of the beauty of their locks.  They got their red hair from both of our Grandmothers, Thelma had the dark rich red that they both were blessed with but I am sure that with our Grandma Gladys genes in there they just might not have gotten suck glorious locks.  Red was born with black hair but by the time he was four months old it was the beautiful red that he always had, my grandmother Thelma had just cut hers and they (mom and her) had used the left overs to make Red beautiful red ponytails.  The family history at the time had been that you would only get two "white" boys, our last name was white, and since mom had given birth to twins 11 months before Red was born, though one died, no one thought he would be a boy.  He came into this world with an entire wardrobe of pink clothes.  So much for family wives tales.  My mom and Grandma Thelma were playing with one of the little dresses and had dressed him up in one and added the ponytails.  This tells me how much fun my grandma Thelma must have been.  They were not allowed to take any pictures, my dad did not want any blackmail pictures (none taken) to be the bane of Red's life. I am not all that sure he was happy with them when he caught them playing dress up with his new son. 

Sister did not get her beautiful red hair to begin with, I am sure my Grandma Thelma never suspected she would come to have her beautiful hair when she died.  Sister's hair was a funny mousey color until she turned about 2 and a half.  It was almost an over night thing the way it just turned red that summer.  She was a little thing, my sister Sister, no bigger than a mite, she was allergic to milk and that was before formula's so she threw up a lot.  She would carry her dolly everywhere rolling fuzz balls.  One day we were in the garden, us older kids trying to help with the weeding.  Sister was just meandering around, once in awhile she would sneak a bite out of a tomato and drop it to the ground.  My mom would tell her not to but she never really got in trouble for it.  Mom would just picked them up to use later when she canned them.  She was playing along and no one was really paying any attention to her until all of a sudden she started to screaming in pain.  She had picked up the pitch fork my mom had been using to dig potatoes and had stabbed two of the tines through her two little feet.  (Silver to this day has a memory of throwing the pitch fork out of a tree and hitting her feet, well there was no tree over shadowing the garden and his memory deceives him) Mom pulled it out immediately and I remember the bleeding.  Momma had to take her to the Dr so she could have a tetanus shot.  This day was to be a harbinger of things to come for our Sister. 

Years later we lived in a house with a cellar.  Mom had stored the tomatoes from the garden in the cellar for the winter, the ones she hadn't canned.  My mom was very upset because she thought one of us kids were getting into the cellar to take bites out of the tomatoes.  I think mom thought Sister was doing it, because the bites were small, but she didn't want to actually think her Sister would do that.  The real culprit turned out not to be Sister at all.  Mom was in the cellar retrieving food stuffs for dinner when something ran by, something big, so big it scared momma to death and she came screaming out of the cellar.  She had seen something,  it had a long scaly tail.   It was huge, it couldn't be a mouse.  My dad put in a trap to catch the monster.  He kind of did it with a tongue in cheek laugh, he was sure that she had exaggerated.  The next day all the traps were set off but no mouse was caught.  He finally had to get a bigger trap, still no luck, and still all the tomatoes had big bites in them.  He final used one of his muskrat traps and success.  He caught a huge big old pack rat.  It really was a monstrous rat.  Sister got her reprieve and mom was vindicated for her fear of the "mouse"  my dad was a little sheepish at his kidding of mom.

A number of years later we were visiting friends, they had eight kids just like we did, made for a big dinner table when we got together.  We were about 50 miles from home, in Grangville we had lived closer but now we lived in Plains and they lived in the Noxon area.  We kids were all playing in the old barn out back of their house.  Sister was running ahead of us and she stepped on a huge rusty nail, she put it clean through her shoe sole, out threw the top of her foot and top of the shoe.  She began to scream in agony.  We, kids, all ran and got dad and mom.  Dad got to her first and had a real time takimg her shoe off and getting the nail, well spike, out of her foot.  I think in the end he cut the shoe apart to get to her foot and get the rail out.  It was nasty rusty, you know the kind that flakes off.  Her foot almost immediately began to turn red, a distinct red line started up her foot.  It was odd that you could almost watch the red move up her leg.  We immediately got in the car to go home to Plains, to the hospital, the closest one around.  Dad drove over the speed limit to get there.  The Dr said when we got there it was a really really bad case of blood poison and it was lucky that we had come so fast.  Alas that did put an end to Sister's dances with tomatoes and sharp pointy things going through her feet.....

Tomato Soup....

1 quart of mom's home canned tomatoes grown in dad's garden. (See Recipe below)
1 quart of milk
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
Salt and pepper to taste.

Mom would take a quart of tomatoes bring to a boil in a sauce pan, that would hold a half gallon.  When the tomatoes came to a boil she would add the salt and pepper, and the baking soda, the baking soda would foam up in the pan.  I asked once why she put baking soda in it and she said so the milk didn't curdle.  Once the mixture foamed up she would add the milk and warm up to the desired temperature.  She served us each a bowl with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Canned tomatoes.

fresh tomatoes from the garden, washed.  Dip them in boiling water for a minute of so, the skin will crack open, immediately plunge them into large boil filled with ice water and the skin will easily pull right off.  Once all the tomatoes are blanched, if the are small put them into the quart jar whole if not quarter them, fill the jar to with in 1 inch, making sure to squish them so that the natural juices come out and fill the jar up. Add one teaspoon of salt (optional) to the jar (and now you should add a tablespoon of vinegar, but back then we didn't have to, the tomatoes had enough acidity on their own)  When all your jars, usually 7 per load, are full process in a water bath canner.   We did started with a warm, about 180 canner of water, we put the jars in the water in the basket if we didn't have a basket we put jar lids on the bottom so the jars were not right on the bottom of the canner.  Process 20 minutes, I think now we are supposed to process a half an hour to 40 minutes due to the non acidity tomatoes, funny how foods change so much.  Remove the jars from the water with a jar remover or just lift the canning basket.  If you are using metal rings and lids you will hear the song of the sealing as they pop to say they are sealed.  If using Tattler or 4everrecaps, you will have the check their seal once they are cooled. 

A simple dinner but then simple is best isn't it...... Sister always loved tomato soup, she was a dipper, I remember her laying on the couch with her little foot propped up on a pillow, all wrapped up, sipping her soup loudly on a spoon.  Her face with fading red marks on it, a big toothy smile because she was the patient and got to sip her soup on the couch..... Almost the princess for the day, all it had cost was the pain that was now a fading memory......

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