Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preserving the Home

Welcome Home
by Susan Rios
(Available at Susan Rios Editions)*

Preserves: cucumber relish, blackberry syrup, peach preserves.

Remember how the women of the past were able to come home from church and serve a big meal to company?  I used to wonder how in the world they managed it, and why it seemed so difficult for the modern homemaker, who has so little time.  This question was answered during gardening:  they had convenience foods, which they preserved from their gardens. While it was quite an intense operation to do this during certain times of the summer, they only had to do it that one time, and there would be convenience foods for the rest of the year. Potatoes could be put up in jars, and later just opened, poured into a pan, and heated.  Other foods, like plums and grapes, could be dried, and later put into pies.

  When the freezer was developed, people learned to pre-bake pie crusts and breads, for the winter. They could also freeze the green beans and brocoli that they blanched and put into freezer containers. This was their fast-food. It was hard work, but the whole family, even the men and boys, participated in some ways. Grandmothers were engaged to take care of little ones and keep them from being underfoot in the kitchen, and sisters and aunts could help with cleaning and laundry and meal times.

Fishing was a big deal in the old days, too. Our parents preserved fish by creating a method of letting smoke preserve it, or canning it in a special canning set.  This was an intense job but yet the time seemed leisurely. These people liked doing it and I suppose the happiness they felt at knowing that they were providing their own foods, made up for the time-consuming effort.

Preserving the home is very hard work and requires that a woman go over her territory regularly, checking attiudes and reminding the family members of their duties and their beliefs. It means that they watch out for influences that would cause disharmo  ny, disorderliness and disloyalty. It means they watch the moods of their children and correct errant thinking.  Contrary to popular belief, we are supposed to control the home. We are to guard it, and direct it.  Like preserving food, it takes some intense moments, but if we are alert and send out reminders, both by what we say and what we do, we can come closer to preserving the family and home life.

There are other things, that though material in nature, contribute to preserving the home. One is cleanliness and another is doing things at the time they need to be doing. Letting something "go" can only make it worse, so when something has to be looked after, is the time to do it. When preserving food, it has to be processed just before it gets too ripe, and should be canned or frozen or dried the day it is picked. Each day that goes by, and the riper it gets, the more likely it will lose its goodness and attract bacteria.  In preserving the home, we have to take responsibility to see that the home is guarded and guided.  It does not mean that the woman has to do every single thing herself, but that she sees that it gets done.

I did not sew a special dress or apron for food preparations of harvest (canning, freezing, drying, collecting), but I did learn what was needed: clothes that were cool, and aprons that looked like the berries or tomatoes, that would hide stains for a while. 

Preserving the home means also that we cling to certain beliefs about marriage, parents, children and others, even though the prevailing culture wants to interfere. It means we do not listen to everything around us that tries to crack our system. It means that we do not fear to guard our marriages and our children, even when others try to break down our beliefs with the temptations of money or things or temporary happiness.

The produce from the garden has to be treated carefully, kept clean and pure, and preserved to be eaten when it is needed.  Putting time into the preservation of your home life will pay dividends later. It might not be easy to establish your freedom to be a home guard and home guide, but the effort will pay off, if  you do not give up.

There is surely a lot more to preserving the home, and I am sure others can contribute some things I have not even thought of, to this discussion.

If you like original art, Susan Rios sometimes puts small pieces on auction on ebay, for as low as $45.00


Anonymous said...

Great analogy!

Cay Gibson said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Thank you so much for writing it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that family mealtimes, with the family around the table together, is something that we should strive to preserve. It helps to have a consistent time for dinner, and barring necessary absences, everyone should be expected to be there. I also like the idea of preserving family traditions. For example, certain foods for certain holidays. Or the family creating an Advent wreath each year. Keeping Sunday special, etc.

Elizabeth said...

Excellent article and very true. This year there was too much illness so I couldn't do what I normally due towards preserving food. Boy, how I miss it, having all those colorful rows of jars to rely on for my meals.

Lovely post!

Lydia said...

I think manners are a great way to preserve the family and the generations. Handed down from generation to generation, good manners make families strong.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! The homemaker who is willing to work hard to preserve food ahead of time is also acknowledging how precious meal times are to a family. Making regular delicious meals even when we don't feel like it draws the family together and "grows" wonderful memories.

Gwennie said...

There is nothing better than having home-grown food preserved and ready for last-minute company!: )

What a good spiritual application, though! It is so important to pay attention to the hearts and minds of those in one's home. Satan's lies can so easily sneak in undetected!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this post! Thanks so much for sharing.

This post is particularly timely for me today. In 2008 we had so many hospitalizations and surgeries and my FIL passed away around Thanksgiving. Needless to say, my home and family fell apart. When I was finally able to move again (after radical hysterectomy) I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start. Thankfully, God is good and there all the time. This summer I began reclaiming my home for Him and today, in particular, took my first steps into food preservation!

So, thanks again for sharing.

Secondhand Blessings said...

I was wondering if you could share your blackberry syrup recipe. We planted some new blackberries this past year and blackberry syrup would be great on some pancakes or vanilla icecream.

Unknown said...

Lady Lydia, excellent article, I had never thought of likening the preservation of food to the preservation of family.

One thing that stands out for me is that the two require a dose of effort, foresight and commitment.

I think preserving the traditional gender roles and values of respect and giving time and special gifts to our loved ones, just make them feel special and loved is one other way of preserving the family. Pity men of the 21st century are forgetting those tried and tested ways, as feminism takes centre stage...

Also providing for ones family is another important way of preserving the family.

Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Family keepsakes are something else to preserve carefully. I was recently given vintage photos of long-deceased relatives like great-grandparents. They are beautiful and I can see that my late grandmother took care of them.

I preserved my children's baptism blankets and outfits by bringing them to the cleaners and having them preserved in sealed boxes and acid free paper. I cannot open them and break the seal without risking the contents now, but they are safely put away for future generations. It was an expense to do this as new parents, but worth it. After my grandmother died, I opened one of the boxes and gave a blanket to a new baby nephew. I think my grandmother would have been proud to know a blanket she made was so well cared for that a baby great grandson born in her lifetime used it as well as another baby great grandson born after her death.

Raggedy Cottage Garden said...

Wonderful thoughts!

I have spent all summer preserving much food from our garden and from my parent's home farm. It is good to know that we need to keep up before the food spoils!

Anonymous said...

There is a certain satisfaction that comes with growing your own food, preserving it and putting it on the table to feed your family.

I also like family mealtimes. Sometimes it is the only time everyone is together at one time with each person's busy schedules.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding post! That is all so true; we are all so "busy" looking busy that we actually never get much done. The people in the past could not be too "busy" that they did not get their food put up; the foolishness of that was obvious to them! It is not so obvious to us with all the safety nets we have around;some folks simply don't grasp the seriousness of what is happening. If you can't be bothered to put up your produce and prefer to let it rot on the ground (that really bothers me to see various neighbors' apples, etc. rotting away on the ground!) then you have the safety net of the grocery store. If you don't care to watch your own children (and let them rot on the ground, so to speak!) the safety net is day care. If you don't want to have a lifetime marriage, the safety net is the culture in general! We really need to allow for the time it takes to really live and take care of the important things/people in it...the distractions are endless which can take us away from our biblical priorities. You have to CHOOSE to discipline yourself to do the hard tasks. And I believe canning (even one batch of Strawberry Preserves) gets us back in touch with quality: taste, time and devotion. There is something about getting out one of those jars months later and enjoying the fruits of YOUR labor, not Wal-Marts!

Thank you for your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Lydia, the posts are wonderful and so true. The comments are equally true and wonderful.

You have shared about preserving foods, the home and family, I will share about preserving the body in the garden.

I have found that a khaki or drab green outfit with a berry or tomato colored apron work the best for garden work. We have lots of biting and stinging insects during the gardening season and I've found that I am a magnet for them. I seem to get more then my share of bites and stings in the summers.
This city slicker has found that absolutely no fragrances of any kind should be worn in the summer while gardening, a drab green garment seems to fend off most biters, a red or purple apron works wonders for not looking like your produce while working with it and a straw hat not only keeps too much sun off your head and face, but bees and wasps will not menace you as much if they can not see hair. Most of their enemies are furry.
Full length thin cotton pantaloons or haram pants gathered at the ankle help to keep spiders from crawling up your legs and biting in the garden.
Thank you for sharing about preserving food, home and family.
Keep up the good work.

Lydia said...

Sarah,, your mention of strawberry preserves remind me that although not everyone can have a garden or put up their produce, there is a grocery store available they can glean from. I will add the instructions for stove-top strawberry jam for tea and scones, with grocery store produce. It is very quick, and it comes from a small book called "The little book of english teas"--or you can get one online. You can preserve some grocery store produce, as well as making quick breads and freezing them. If you do not have a garden, you can go to a local farmer market and get a few pears and make pear sauces.

I can include the recipe for the blackberry syrup, which is very delicious, as well as plum sauce, on this same post, in a few hours.

Lydia said...

Thanks for reminding me of perfumes. You cant wear them outside in a country area, as they attract bees and other insects.

Insects seem also to be attracted to the color yellow, esp. a bright yellow. You might find yourself covered in little black flies when you come away from the garden. I guess they think you are a flower.

Wearing your dull garments that are worn out, in the garden, works best, or a kind of apron with all the greens you like, is great.

The trouble with jeans and tee shirts in the garden is that the shirts separate from the pants and you can get bitten on the midriff. You can get stings from insects and nettles straight through the jeans, so that is why a skirt or full apron gives you more protection in the garden. This is useful if you are just caring for flower beds around the house. There are leggings sold at places like WalMart, that come in pink, light blue, gray, brown, white, that can be worn under skirts without making them look too bulky.

Lydia said...

There are special gardener's soaps and bath products, even body splashes and perfumes, and laundry products that are available.

Anonymous said...

Lydia, Great post today as usual. I've noticed other ladies' comments about surgeries and family crises, and we, too, are in the midst of great upheaval. I think of our return to our old farmhouse in terms of the 3 R's -- we are restoring, reclaiming, and redeeming our life anew here. I, too, hadn't planned on canning this year, but generous neighbors, family, and friends forced me to dig out my canning gear. It made just one more mess to sort through and arrange later this winter, but it has been very beneficial to me to do this all again, and brings joy to our family, as well as food for our pantry.

Right now I'm in the midst of the biggest crop of apples I think we've ever had here (in spite of one neighbor's comment that the japanese beetles would get them all). Apples are not rude, like tomatoes, corn, and beans. They don't demand my attention immediately. So it's a process I can enjoy more fully, and we did have a nice time yesterday with a very elderly neighbor lady who came and peeled and sliced and shared her ancient wisdom. I tease her and tell her she's a country woman's Martha Stewart! She knows lots of stuff about survivng on what we provide with our own hands and frugality.

It seems to me that God gives us almost a supernatural strength when we are doing things that provide for our families and take advantage of His bounty. One lady mentioned seeing a neighbor's apples rotting on the ground. We were determined this would not happen to us, Lord willing, and we worked on and on to make sure they will all picked off the tree or off the ground as soon as possible and then preserved in various ways. I've had a foot injury, but as I work late into the night to preserve all the apple dishes I can think of, God just keeps me going, because I'm thinking of my family's tummies come the winter time. Do you think we can live off of applesauce? :) But I am humbled by the bounty God has given us and want to take full advantage of His provision.

I remember reading a story in an old magazine of a woman who, as a little girl, survived off of nothing but potatoes and milk for over a year. With God's protection we can get by on what He gives us in our hands and make do, even if the world or modern medical thinking is to the contrary.

Preserve the home, ladies!

God bless!

Lydia said...

Many kinds of apples are "keepers" that can be stored in cool areas and used all year as eating apples and baking or other things. If people give you the wind-falls, you can cut out the good parts, cook them and put them in freezer bags or mash them and make apple sauce.
Of course there will be years that you cannot do all this,but isnt it nice when someone can do this and have extra to give away to those who can't.

Anonymous said...

I'd never thought of preserving and guarding the home and family as so very similar to gardening and preserving ~ thanks for this excellent post!

Blessings :o)

Anonymous said...

For those ladies who don't have a garden and you would like to start somewhere, I thought I would share a recipe for microwave jam. It makes enough for a 2 cup jar. In Australia it uses 2 punnets of strawberries, which is the only fruit I have tried with this recipe. Would love to read how it goes with other fruit!

1 lemon, halved
500g fruit, remove stone or stalk and chop fruit
1 1/2 cups sugar (335g)

Juice the lemon. Place fruit, lemon juice and the rind halves in a large microwave safe bowl (I use my 5litre corningware casserole). Cook, uncovered, on high/100% power for 6 minutes.
Add the sugar and cook on high/100% power for 20 minutes or until jam reaches setting point. (To test, cool some jam on a chilled saucer and run your finger through it. If the jam wrinklesand stays separate it is ready to bottle.
Discard the lemon rind and spoon the hot jam into a clean jar. Invert for 2 minutes, then turn upright to cool.
I make this a lot. If I ever got a source of a large amount of fruit I would make jam the regular way, but for the occasional supermarket special, I make this. It is hard to go back to supermarket jam after you have had home made! Hope this helps someone, Regards Julia

Anonymous said...

Living in the heart of suburbia, we don't have the room to grow an orchard; our lemon and mandarin trees are barely saplings and the one strawberry plant provides a treat and nothing more. I have customarily made jam and marmelade from produced bought from the local green-grocer; this is perfectly acceptable. We don't 'can' in Australia as you in the US do; if I went looking for a '[preserving kit' as its known here, I'd have to look in an antique shop!! O(perhaps this is because our climate is by and large fantastic and we have access to excellent quality fresh fruit and vegetables all year round). However, the preserving of lemons and limes for savoury use (Maroccan style) or cumquats in brandy are perenial favourites and don't require anything more than a good preserving jar whose seal will not fail or rust. If folk have a stone-fruit tree in their garden, they'll often stew the fruit to be set aside (though for the majority of Australians, long-term preserving is becoming a craft reserved for agricultural show competitions.

If any of you are lucky enough to have a crab apple tree, look up a recipe for crab apple jelly; this is delightful served on scones, buttered toast, English muffins and croissants !!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful analogy. I can tell you have spent time with our Precious Savior today.

I like what you said about watching the children carefully to notice if their hearts are going astray.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

An excellent post. Did you hear me thinking,'It'd be nice to see another post from Home Living about valuing our place in the home'?

This is very timely for me, as here in the UK we are midst of a big scandal involving a daycare centre. There is much talk on the airwaves about how we can be sure our children are safe when we drop them off at the nursery[daycare]. (No suggestion that home might be the best place, or that only grandmothers should be minding our kiddies. It has now become the great unmentionable that home with mother is the safest place.)

I am signing off, as I am conducting a grand experiment and making marrow and pineapple jam. A gentleman from our church dropped off a wheelbarrow-load of marrows a few weeks ago, and I want to save the rest before they go off.

Lydia said...

The painting makes me want to find fabric that has the same kinds of flowers and colors.

To the lady who commented about the styles that the homemakers are so afraid of wearing because it somehow labels them as being out of style:

Those styles from the 80's were worn by everyone and there were ads for them in the old Victoria magazines, which I'll post here sometime. They were from Storeybook catalog and from Wooden Soldier and Lanz of Salzburg, Nancy Johnson, Jessica McClintock (not her current ones, but the earlier ones), and Laura Ashley and other designers. They were popular among many women, even the television show personalities. The homemakers hung on to them longer because they were so perfect for active women who also wanted to wear dresses. The denim over-dress and the denim skirts and jackets were popular, as well, and the homemakers found that they lasted longer and transcended the styles, so they held on to them longer.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

I am right with you! I didn't mean "out of style" as a put down to myself and clothes, but rather as a put down to the style - as in, "if this is the style, then I definitely do not want to be 'in style'". It just amazes me that what used to be so normal and common is now seen as SO out of style!

This is the thing - when I think about what is in style right now, I can't even come up in my head with what would be considered the hallmark style of this decade, or the last. There's a slight 70's trend going on with blouses right now, but other than that, it is just rag-tag, too-tight, non-descript t-shirt and jeans, or all dressed up, even for church, is the night scene look.

I noticed that the feminine, happy look has becomed despised by churches who don't want women to look condescending in their dresses, or lawful. They should be relevant. If they wear a dress, they may prevent someone from coming to the Lord, because she might think she has to wear a dress to be a Christian. I am not making this up, I have read that wearing dresses is a stumbling block to weaker Christians, so if you love them, you will look "comfortable" in jeans around them. I got a flyer from the church that is calling itself "the Jeans Church", and you are not allowed to dress up to go there!

I agree with you - I loved my dresses from the 90's so much that I put them all away. They were a part of me, but a little too small now. Just a few days ago, I found that box, and was so happy going through it.

The dress I wore for my engagement pictures was one of the last Laura Ashley's from when they still had the clothing shops open. I was amazed to find it is exactly the same pattern as a simple one I use today, cut on the bias in a beautiful linen with roses on it. My rehearsal dinner dress was a similar one, with burn-out brown roses on a brown background.

I was so happy in these. I wore a lot of "shirt dresses" for everyday, and there was nothing as comfortable, and I was always ready to sing at church, go to somebody's shower party, even my own, or just out shopping. They were appropriate for everywhere.

But after I had children, I had a really rough lonely time. There was a lot of separation in my extended family, we moved several times, we switched denominations, and I was at home long years doing the daily routine and not getting out much. I feel things have changed so drastically in that amount of time that it just makes my heart sink.

I think that the most change has happened in the church, with the idea to the young people that being relevant is an act of worship, and that people who aren't hip and grungy don't love God enough to relate to the current culture. There is a cult-like mentality in the youth groups, so when they see "happy, traditional, and sweet", their minds are programmed to snear and reject. I really believe they are brainwashed.

The awful thing is that the older women are following the lead of the younger women in this. They are not thinking, and they don't know where the trend is coming from in the youth, that there is a belief system behind it.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful inspiring post. I currently live in the bottom apartment of an older house. You inspired me to go to the local market and get enough apples so I can enjoy applesauce all winter long! My husband is thrilled. Thank you so much for preaching the gentle art of homemaking. I came home as soon as I found out I was pregnant and switched to dresses and skirts only shortly after he was born. Thank you so much for helping me remember that it is all for the glory of Christ and not for others that I do this.

Stacy said...

I always love your posts. I am so thankful that you take it upon yourself to inspire women the world wide.

Lydia said...

The lady in Australia putit well: women subject themselves to peer pressure of the current designs, and feel they are not "relevant" or "smart" and are too self conscious in nicer clothes.

If, however, you sew a dress or have one made for you, you might find that even though it is not in the popular styles, the fact it is taylor made for you, and it is brand new, will give you more confidence when wearing it.

Some catalogs still have nice, sensible yet pretty, clothes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Lady Lydia for your inspiration and for taking time to respond to ladies who comment. This feeling of connection is appreciated and for those of us working at home full-time, this connection and encouragement is very uplifting.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and the articles posted here. Thank you again for granting me permission to post this particular article to my blog :)

Jennifer C. Valerie said...

Great reminder. Thank you. I really need to be more vigilant to preserve my home.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article, and for your blog in general. The truth contained in it is very timely for me. It reinforces what I believe. I have some decisions to make concerning my responsibility to be at home and your article has prompted me to make the right decisions for our family! Namely, that I need to quit my part time job and stay home full time. I've had a couple of part time jobs recently, and even a few hours a week away from home is too much. (My current job, while considered part time, is bordering on full time!) I cannot be all that I need to be as a wife and mother when my attentions are divided. Even though my children are grown, my home and my husband are still my priority and my children always come back to visit...our home will always be "home," and I am encouraged to reclaim my place! My husband prefers me to be at home, and that alone should be enough to keep me faithfully in my God-given place! Why, oh why is it so easy to become caught up in distractions? --rhetorically speaking. Thank you so much for confirming what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me.