Thankful for Slow Saturday

I promised myself a slow day, and I have enjoyed just that. This morning I slept late for the first time in quite a while (9:00 a.m.). I made coffee, enjoyed it, and finished laundry at a leisurely pace. Mr. Husband and I took the dogs for a long walk at the cemetery overlooking town and the surrounding hills and valleys. It was breathtakingly beautiful today. I tended the garden, and picked basil and tomatoes.

I did a little work and finished my sermon. I stayed hydrated and relaxed. We made a wonderful supper together: pasta with fresh homemade pesto (recipe below) or homemade Alfredo sauce, a lovely salad with cucumbers from our garden, and peach sundaes made with fresh local peaches for dessert. We enjoyed a leisurely meal with good conversation. Now I’m winding down and hoping for a good night’s sleep so that I can feel rested for tomorrow.

It was a lovely slow day. Did I accomplish as much as I would have liked to done? No. But that’s o.k. I am content.

How did you spend your Slow Saturday?

Fresh Pesto

Two heaping cups (press down) of fresh, washed, and drained basil leaves

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 to 2/3 cups Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)

8 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (use less if you’re not a garlic fan)

1/3 +/- cup extra virgin olive oil (add oil to get a pleasing consistency)

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Process in a food processor until desired consistency is reached. Mix with hot cooked pasta. Any extra can be put in small containers (press out air bubbles to avoid discoloration) and frozen. Will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. I put a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to prevent discoloration.

Use as a sandwich or wrap spread. Mix with a little mayo or plain Greek yogurt in pasta or chicken salad. Spread on fresh artisan bread, top with a slice of homegrown tomato, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese and broil. Yum.

Photos by zoyachubby and diekatrin used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for My Grandpa’s Legacy

I am thankful for my Grandpa Rogers and the legacy he left behind. I am especially grateful for his life and work this week as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Grandpa was a family farmer in the foothills of eastern Kentucky. He and my Granny reared my mother and her nine brothers and sisters on a family farm. It was hard work for not much pay, but he was respected by all who knew him as an honest man and earnest worker. His farm is long gone, but his legacy remains and reminds me why the family farmer is so important not only to the past and its nostalgia but also to the future of our country and its food supply.

Grandpa’s major cash crop was tobacco, but he raised pigs, chickens, and cows, too. My grandparents had a large garden and an apple orchard, and my Granny put up all kinds of vegetables and fruits. She even canned the best sausage I’ve ever tasted. She did all of this without indoor plumbing. I can remember being entertained by churning butter with a hand-cranked churn. Fried apple pies and biscuits always graced her table, and the grandchildren managed to deplete the stock during furtive forays into the dining room between dinner and supper.

I didn’t appreciate my grandfather’s legacy fully until I started learning about our agricultural and food productions systems. It’s easy for most of us to go into a grocery store and fill our carts with an impressive array of items without ever considering their origin or how far they traveled to reach the store. There’s a huge difference between tomatoes fresh off the vine and those plasticine-like numbers in the produce section at Wal-Mart. A plastic container of blackberries may look nice on the shelf, but it will never match the experience of picking berries amidst the brambles and eating your fill in the process. Fresh, raw milk is something most Americans no longer have access to, and milk in a glass bottle from a local dairy is a rare treat.

My mothers’ family did without a lot of the “niceties” that townspeople took for granted. They made up for it in self-reliance, and understanding of and appreciation for the land and all of God’s creation, and a commitment to a way of life that is fast passing from the American landscape. I wish I had the kind of practical knowledge about farming, gardening, and putting up food that my Grandpa and Granny had. My husband and I are trying to become more self-reliant and aware of the sources of our food. We’re learning to garden, to can, and to choose local foods whenever possible.

America is in a strange place right now. For the first time our farmers do not produce enough fruits and vegetables to meet the needs of our people. Fewer family farms are in operation every year. It’s risky business, and competition is fierce. It takes a special person to be a farmer.

As you gather around your table this Thursday, be sure to give thanks for the people who planted, grew, and harvested your food. I know I will. I’ll also offer a prayer of thanks for my Grandpa Rogers’ legacy–for the strong hands that worked the land and then folded in prayer to give God thanks for it.

Click here to view a fine short film from Bread for the World about the current plight of small farmers. Please take the time to watch it. It may just change the way you look at your food and where it comes from.

Photos by anoldent, racheltayse,  and marc_smith used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!