Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 184 - Relish the View from the Top of the Mountain

Family cooking traditions are unique to every family.  When the Czarneckis and the Arroyos joined us at the Tennessee cabins, we had put together a schedule that rotated to ensure that each family would cook for two of the six days that we were there.  Since it was Felipe's 18th birthday, his mother was assigned that day so that they could make his traditional birthday dinner which consisted of meat filled triangular ravioli like snacks.  The Czarneckis made him a traditional tangerine cake and although both families were thousands of miles away from their homes, the smell and tastes of their kitchens existed in America.

It is no different in other countries than from our American kitchens. There are things unique to our families that bring us comfort.  The No-bake Oatmeal cookies that Grandma Heichel made along with her whoopie pies and zucchini bread.  Her coleslaw as out of this world too.  My kids fight over my own mother's zucchini relish and mashed potatoes. I've resigned to the fact that I will probably never ever master the mashed potatoes but on the visit to my mother's house that includes celebrating her birthday in person!, I wanted to learn how to make her zucchini relish.

The night before, mom had cut up the yellow, red and orange peppers and onions.  She showed me how to hollow out the rinds and remove the seeds.  After a quick shower in the morning, I zipped downstairs, made a cup of coffee, washed the 16 HUGE zucchinis which she said were small, and lined the garbage can.  I moved everything out onto the porch and as I listened to the birds singing while eating the sunflower seeds I had put out for them in the morning, I began the process of cutting up the zucchini and summer squash.  My goal was to finish before the garbage truck came so that the zucchini guts didn't have to sit in the garage for another week until the next trash run.

The chickadees laughed as they flew in and out of the trees observing such an awkward sight.  A woman with a huge bowl of cut pieces of zucchini, still slicing away with rubber gloves on her hand.  Mom arose and helped me discard the cuttings and we began the day long process of the making of zucchini relish.  She shared with me the tedious tasks to ensure that the zucchini choppings were thoroughly rinsed.  I took photos of the process each step of the way.  When the peppers and onions were mixed in the zucchini, I took the photos of the most colorful relish anyone had every seen.  I was going to show everyone how much effort it took to make these jars of family tradition.

We added the vinegar and sugar and spices reminding me of the combination of any family.  A little bit of sweet sugar and a little bit of sour vinegar.   Every family has its own sweet and sour.  We boiled it for ten minutes and began spooning the relish into the jars.  A slow process but one in which we shared together.  It ended up taking five hours with two people and a little bit of prep work the night before.  No wonder my Mom wanted to pass on the tradition to me.  It surely had taken her ten hour days to make fourteen jars and that doesn't last very long in our family.

Labeled, decorated and cleaned

From the kitchen of Norma & BJ
I "relished" the day of being in the kitchen as part of a mother daughter team today and if it weren't for the bitter notion that I had erased alllllllll of the photos inadvertently, all in all this little bit of sour wouldn't ruin the sweetness of the secret of life...sharing the passage of tradition and time.  It simply was the right thing to do.


Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating. ~ Denis Waitley

Happy Birthday Mom!

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