Growing up with a momma who had a garden the size of a house in the middle of town meant that you were adept at canning and freezing veggies… thinking back, it’d been really cool to have some cows and pigs too because I do love some beef and bacon but sadly no… just veggies.
Her kitchen was a hotbed of activity. There was country music blaring (hello Alabama), multiple stations of canning batches and an industrial sized fan in the kitchen window to pull out the heat. It was my idea of what hell looked like and I was determined that heaven was air conditioning and good cable. Don’t judge me, I was young in my faith.
We started by just canning the excess of the garden but soon, we had filled the shelves of the utility room and the pantry so what was left? Considering that each winter when that plentiful garden (seriously how can one garden put out so much food, my momma obviously was blessed with a green thumb) was dormant, we ate through all those jars of food.
Tomatoes were made into spaghetti sauce, soups and more. The green beans were boiled with bacon and onions and on special occasions were then fried in bacon grease to make yumminess that cannot be described.
However it got to the point where we needed another storage method. Enter the freezer. Most people have a freezer in their home to hold excess food, but we had a freezer that would have comfortably held Jimmy Hoffa and a side of beef. It was the biggest chest freezer that Sears sold. It was my mother’s dream furniture piece come true, the way I dream about a big old sideboard or an Amish armoire, she lusted after a freezer.
Southern homes have two entrances — the front door for strangers and a back door for everyone else. And our back door was through the carport. You parked and walked under the carport, then you took the stairs into the back door which was essentially an indoor porch. It was that porch that once caught all the boots, shoes, toys, softball gear and etc, but once momma got her freezer, we lost that space.
She started filling that freezer with a vengeance. I will put my momma and her freezer up against any prepper that is trying to prepare for the worst, my momma has you beat. She learned to freeze anything and everything. Peas? Cucumbers? Tomatoes? Butter beans? She froze it and would label it proudly with huge block letters. No mystery meat or veggies here. And then one day, she realized that she could hit all the meat sales at the grocery stores too. We began to use our coupons to fill that freezer … eventually Jimmy Hoffa would have to relocate because she also figured out how to get hamburger meat and roasts straight from the butcher/rancher in exchange for all those garden jewels.
When things got tight, momma didn’t sweat. That chest freezer was easily six feet long and when she was looking for something specific, you could find her legs up in the air, barefoot in her jeans with huge gloves on, digging through all those white packages looking for her goal. Didn’t matter what the bank account looked like for my momma, her table was full and there was always extras for lunches. She made do with the very least to make it the very best.
Forget those pre-made recipes, she made her cakes, cornbread and treats from scratch. The fridge was full of margarine buckets which held both margarine and left overs, it was a patience game trying to find food verses ingredients. It’s hard to feel poor when the table is full and momma’s kitchen was full of laughter and music. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those memories for riches and spoils. I learned how to cook from the heart and from the garden. I learned that you can make the best of the very least. There are a lot of things in this world that you can’t put a value on… and my momma’s freezer and kitchen, they were priceless.
— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.