Preserving Food And Memories

This image comes from my whirlwind trip to Ohio’s Amish Country this fall. The Farm At Walnut Creek is a working farm where you can see people farming, cooking and handling animals. Inside the house, the basement kitchen was a bustling place during my visit.

My nose led me inside to purchase warm loaves of homemade bread but I lingered a while to observe their activity. I enjoyed listening to the ladies speak to one another in their Pennsylvania Dutch and watched as they toiled about their work.

But the thing I liked best here was this wall of homemade canned goods.

Both of my grandmothers canned vegetables, fruits and meats – most of it stuff they raised themselves. This activity was common for their generation but it’s increasingly rare to hear people talk about canning today.

I’m all for the old ways but, if I can’t freeze it, I am not going to mess with it.

Yet, I have fond memories of green beans, homemade pickles and fresh grape juice canned to enjoy another day.

The mere sight of all those rows of canned goodies was enough to take me back to the sweltering kitchens of my childhood. It was here that food was prepared and giant pots of boiling water were used to vacuum seal dozens of lids on jars for another day.

It’s both a survival tool and an act optimism that you will indeed survive the seasons long enough to enjoy all that good food. I would love to announce that canning will be my next new hobby. But, as long as I have freezer space and a supply of ziplock bags, this will not be the case.

Instead, I’ll just enjoy the picture and the memories of green beans on a cold winter day.

All Adventures Aren’t For Everyone

I have perfected the art of being happy or at least satisfied pretty much wherever I go. It’s a key to life happiness as far as I’m concerned.

That’s why it’s surprising when I encounter a place that I really don’t enjoy. Before continuing, it’s important to first say that every place is not for everyone.

I spent a few days of my vacation this month in Ohio’s Amish Country. The countryside is gorgeous and I spent a fair amount of time and gasoline wandering the backroads, looking at farms and pastures, foliage and signs of simple living.

This was my favorite thing.

I also chatted with the proprietor of Mt. Hope Hardware, an old school hardware store that caters to the needs of the local Amish community. He was sure to tell me about the gas powered refrigerators that are his specialty.

Another thing I liked was simply being there on Sunday late afternoon because all Amish businesses and many others are closed. Businesses in southern Ohio still closed on Sunday when I was a kid and it was nice seeing it happen there in 2022.

Consequently, that night’s dinner was veggie fajitas at the Mexican restaurant in downtown Millersburg. It was the best meal I had that trip.

But Monday morning painted a different picture. School was in session, business resumed and Sunday’s sleepy towns were transformed by large numbers of visitors seeking baked goods, big meals and all manner of things available for purchase.

Friends, this was not the place for me. I literally headed for the hills and drove backroads looking for some sense of authenticity and calm.

At one point, I followed signs to a place called the Farm At Walnut Creek, a version of a working farm where you can walk through a typical Amish home, buy produce and bread, and take a wagon ride through an exotic animal farm.

It was on this wagon ride with driver Eli that I encountered zebras, ostrich and giraffes. It was about the time a Buffalo nearly tried to board the wagon in search of a snack that I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. Instead of groaning because I didn’t go to Amish Country to meet a cockatoo or to have a Buffalo carry off my bag, I chose to embrace the “when in Rome” philosophy and simply enjoy the trip for what it was.

Everyone else seemed pleased with their extensive shopping and buffet dinners but I suspect I’m not their target market.

I was glad to leave but have some thoughts about a tour that might provide a more authentic, personal Amish experience. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back some day and try again.