Archive for Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Aunt Norie’s Sewing Room

July 17, 2012

Correction or addition to the root cellar column: The cedar boxes I mentioned were for her fresh carrot crop. As she harvested her carrots in the fall, she cleaned them — not washed, just brushed the dirt off — and clipped any fine roots off the end. After cutting the top leaves off, leaving tiny little short stems, about a quarter of an inch was left on the carrot. Then, she would just poke or push them down into the wet sand in the cedar boxes.

The carrots stayed fresh and crisp all winter long. By early spring, the tops were trying to grow again. She could take one of those trying to grow and re-plant it out into the garden. It would grow a flower-like top, which would turn into carrot seed. The bottom of the carrot, of course, was no longer a fresh carrot. It was a hard and bitter, old root. The early settlers grew a lot of their own seed this way.

She also had, as everybody did, large stone jars, up to 10 gallons in size, in which food was stored. They would salt it down or pickle it. They had a stone jar of pickles in their own vinegar, syrup and brine.

Each jar had a china dinner plate turned upside down over the contents and was usually weighted down with a red granite stone. These stones were found scattered over the prairie. People still find and use them in their rock gardens.

The granite is a stone that will not crumble. Salt and vinegars will not harm it. They were sought after and often found in a young couple’s wedding gifts. Sometimes, the weight was a very small stone jar full of water. They made these stone jars in all sizes, from the little salt jar, always handy on the kitchen cook stove, to the pickle jar in the root cellar.

I remember my parents making sauerkraut in a large stone jar, shredding a layer of cabbage into the jar, sprinkling a layer of salt over it, continuing until the jar was full. They would weight it down and let it set there and ferment. It would turn into sauerkraut and they would lift it out for a supper of pork chops, simmered in sauerkraut. Yummy!

Hugs now and God Bless.

— Aunt Norie, PO Box 265, Tonganoxie, KS 66086; auntnorie@att.net

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