My Grandmother cooked all the family meals from scratch. She kept an immaculate household. She canned produce from her garden and fruit from local fruit trees and fruit that grew wild in the surrounding woods. She baked her own bread. She sewed dresses for her daughters and shirts for her son. She did all this while raising seven children. She passed this knowledge and way of life on to my mother who in turn, passed it on to me.
Those of us who were raised in the old ways had a tendency to carry on as those before us had. We worked from dawn to dusk. And if our home was on a farm, the days were even longer and the work, harder. But we didn't think about that, for we were young and would undoubtedly live forever.
And now we are old. Now we know better.
I have a dear friend with whom I exchange frequent emails. We both have chronic health issues. Because neither of us feels sorry for ourselves or for the other, we occasionally discuss the 'new normals' of our lives. It sometimes helps to talk with another person who understands.
Last week I came to the realization that I have reached another 'new normal.' Having been a home canner since the age of 12 when I helped my mother with that activity as she became the victim of dibilitating rheumatoid arthritis, it is hard for me to accept the fact that canning has become difficult at best. Lifting the heavy canner, standing at the sink preparing some foods to can, lifting the jars of food from the canner, all are no easy tasks these days. My 'new normal.'
The point of this post, however, is not to whine about my limitations. I know there must be others out there who are going through their 'new normals.' And I am here to offer encouragement.
We were raised to believe we could do it all. And many of us did, for years. But life happens. We thought it shameful to use food from a can or a box rather than cook from scratch. The shameful thing is if we use our limitations as an excuse not to prep. Here are some of the things that can be found in my deep pantry:
boxes of Mac & Cheese
scalloped potato mixes
cans of fruit
cans of vegetables
boxes of Bisquick
cans of corned beef hash
cans of Spam
packets of rice and pasta mixes
packets of muffin mixes
boxes of pancake mix
True, I did can up a ton of food while I still could, but these days my canning is limited mostly to canning meat. And that is due to the cost of commercially canned meats. And meat is easy to can. And often my son is willing to give up his day off to help.
Here's the deal. We may have limitations. We have to adjust to our own 'new normals.' But that doesn't mean that we have to give up on preparing. With everything that is going on in the world around us, failing to prepare could mean the difference between surviving or dying.
Me...I'm going to do whatever it takes to live long enough to be a problem to my children. It has been said by a somewhat cheeky daughter that I have acheived that goal, but I don't think so. Not yet!