Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Chow Chow Bee

Someone, please stop me from beginning this post by lamenting what a failure I've been on meeting my personal goal of posting twice a month. I have lots of really good excuses, but today I'm going to expound on my favorite one. October was my mad rush to get every bit of the last harvest in for the year, and then it turns out I needed a month to recuperate. Seriously, I am all at once invigorated and worn out, a feeling that lingers after the last dead stem is pulled from the garden and the soil is put to rest. 

I hope to catch up on my blog now, because I am grounded with an ankle injury from a playground accident. Don't you think someone in my age group should be done with playground accidents? Me too. 

This year, a few friends and I decided to pool our resources together and can several kettles   of chow chow. For those who have never heard of chow chow, or have heard of it but are not sure what it is, here is a simple definition. It is basically chopped vegetables pickled in a vinegar and sugar solution with some spices. When I visit out west, they seem to call it "mixed pickle" or something like that. It makes good use of the last of the garden goodies; carrots, beans, cabbage, cucumbers, and sometimes green tomatoes. It's a lot of chopping, and a lot of work because you have to cook each vegetable separately before mixing them together for a brief simmer, so it's a blessing when you can get some help and make it a group effort. 

I wouldn't have bothered with it this year without help, because like I said, it's a lot of work. 



Vegetable soup for lunch
 I like hearing old family stories about how everyone would get together for chow chow day and cut vegetables, and then since you have everything all prepared, it only made sense to get some beef and have soup for lunch. So we did.
One of the kettles simmering.

This is aunt Martha managing the hectic kitchen.
Another tradition I like is a game of "Guess how many quarts?" The person who guesses the closest to the correct number of quarts that are ultimately canned wins some small prize. No one guessed the exact number, so we all ate cookies.



Some jars awaiting.




      I don't recall the exact number of jars that we processed, but once divided among us it was a plentiful amount. Now that I am off my feet and not able to cook, we are extra thankful for every item lining our shelf this winter.

Everything should work out that well.

11 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun day Monica. I think we call chow chow "piccalilli" here in Australia. Delicious no matter what it's called I say.
    I hope your ankle is feeling better soon so you can get back to the playground. If you must injure an ankle then there is probably no nicer way to do it.

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    1. Hi Tracy! How interesting. We once bought a jar of piccalilli and it sure looked like chow chow to me. The one we had was a little more green than our mix, but I'm sure it could be adapted like anything else. It was just as good, though. Hope you are having a wonderful seasonal warm up in Australia.

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  2. I can almost taste what we called Mixed Pickle, which was a favorite in growing up. I hadn't thought of this Sweet/Sour thing in years.

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    1. I'm a little surprised that it's not on tables all over Pinecraft, but maybe I shouldn't be?

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  3. I've never had chow chow but I've heard of it, along with Dog and Cat Chow, which I assume aren't a sweet & sour mixture at all. I'm so happy you were able to have a good full day of accomplishing such a task - it sounds like a lot of fun was thrown in the mix! The only thing that makes me a little curious is don't you think you should work on using a big girl cup?? Enjoy the chows of your labor and keep healing ~

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    1. Oh Beth, I planted that sippy cup there just for your benefit and to give you some material. You are welcome.

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  4. Those kinda days can turn out to be alot of fun for ladies. My grandma always canned Chow Chow...its was on the table at every meal :) Blessings friend,and I am praying you heal quickly.

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  5. My recipe came from a dear friend that was in her 80s or maybe 90 way back in 1992. The recipe is called 'Last of the Garden'. We gather all those last bits of this n that from the end of the garden season and cook them then put in jars and fill with vinegar syrup. Great in January!

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  6. Looks like a great day! I bet that soup was delicious! My Grandma G. used to can piccalilli AND chow-chow. I don't know what the difference was. I don't remember eating it, but Mom sure gobbled it up. I probably didn't eat it because it had some vegetable I was afraid of. I'm so glad you got this job accomplished for the season, and will be reaping the delights of the garden through the long months to come. Now sit down and get that foot back up!

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    1. I've never worked so hard at putting my feet up in my life, BAT Mom!

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  7. Never heard of Chow Chow til a trip to Lancaster County, years ago. However, my mom used to make green tomato relish which I would never taste and, in fact, don't even remember what it looked like as she made other relishes, too. I never ate tomatoes as a child unless they were "smooth" like soup or sauce. NO chunks of anything for me! Just a few more weeks, Monica and then you can wear your footie jammies, again! (still praying and I think I always will, cause it's a good idea, anyway!)

    Funny, ImP! I didn't even notice the sippy cup! But I did notice Aunt Martha cooking on MY STOVE! :-)

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