Probably as many of you, I grew up in the Midwest. Where much of our own food was grown and raised within the same area where we lived. I remember that the trucking company my father worked for hauled ‘swinging beef’… that is whole sides of beef suspended from the trailer ceiling. We often were allowed to purchase those sides of beef for pennies on the pound. We always had a huge freezer chest in every house we lived packed with meat. And a lot of time, that meat was traded for fresh milk from family friends that ran a dairy. We used to take glass gallon containers and trade them for full ones that left sit overnight would have the cream rise to the top. In which we made ice cream and used the whole cream on berries and in coffee.
We also traded meat for fresh vegetables and fruit. One home we lived in bordered a small apple orchard, growing green and red apples that we picked and ate but the bushels. As kids, my brothers and I used to ‘walk beans’ and ‘de-tassel corn’ for local farmers, and used to come home loaded with green beans and sweet corn. And tomatoes, potatoes, peas, carrots, squash… so much more! Pear, strawberries, melons of all kinds and rhubarb. Rhubarb grew wild in one yard that I recall, and us kids would sit under a tree with a small jar of sugar, breaking off a piece and dipping it in the sugar and munching.
Ah, I remember food tasted so good. Even the “processed” food tasted great because food was made with real milk, eggs and butter. The food wasn’t overly treated and processed and it wasn’t made on food factory farms and the animals weren’t over treated with medication and antibiotics.
This wasn’t going to be a post about what’s wrong with today’s farming techniques. What it is about is the lack of taste and flavor of today’s food. I had a craving for those little baby carrots which The Kid was nice enough to run down to the store and buy me and I might as well be crunching on styrofoam for all the flavor missing. Sigh.
I grew – am growing – tomatoes on the deck in containers. I haven’t had a bumper crop, but I have managed about a half dozen small red, ripe tomatoes. And oh how wonderful they taste! I have decided that I am going on a road trip to find some real food. I want corn and beans and peas and carrots and anything else I can put my hands on. I would kill for some fresh, unpasteurized milk and some real, home made butter. And I vow not to come back to this house without farm raised chicken eggs.
Oh and some apples picked fresh off of a tree, so that I can bake a pie that has some flavor! I bought one from Hy-Vee bakery week before last that tasted of cardboard and mush. Other than the fact that it looked like an apple pie, but it did not taste anything like pie that I remember my mother baking.
The one thing my mother did, and did well, was bake. For as long as I remember, Thursdays were her day off during the week and she always baked. Cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, bread… you name it. And between my brothers and I, whatever she made disappeared before it even cooled. She would get so mad at us for eating her chocolate cake before she ever had a chance to frost it! I definitely have a sweet tooth and it is all due to my mother’s baking.
But try finding anything in a store that has any flavor! It isn’t the store’s fault, they just don’t have any ingredients that have any flavor from which to start! Actual bakeries do a little better, but it still doesn’t stack up to what I can whip up in the kitchen given the right ingredients. And I am on a mission to find some!
Wish me luck! I’ll post some of what I find and make. If you live close enough, you’re even welcome to come over and try some.