Harvesting the Vegetables
Each day, at chore time, as I walk back and forth to the corral, I pass the garden plot. Yesterday I was thinking that it is the first summer in about twenty years that there aren’t any vegetables growing in the garden, and I’m missing it.
My decision to not plant a garden this year came early in the spring when I realized that the drought was going to present a watering challenge. I decided that keeping the lawns and trees watered would be enough—and I was right.
When the kids and their families still lived around Craig we planted a great big garden, watered, hoed, and protected the plants from spring and fall frosts so that we could enjoy the vegetables for as long as possible. Then each year, on a set day, the kids, grandkids, and some members of Lyle’s family gathered to dig several rows of red potatoes—bushels of potatoes.
The men used the tractor and potato digger to dig row after row of potatoes, and everybody else grabbed buckets and picked up the potatoes and then dumped them into gunny sacks. Potatoes that were accidentally cut were set aside so they could be used right away. The sacks of potatoes were divided up among families, and ours were carried to the well house where they were safely stored all winter.
Besides potatoes we also dug carrots and onions, too, which were sometimes stored. We hunted through other vegetable plants for late summer peas, beans, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and green peppers. We divided all of the vegetables up among families. It made for lots of good eating. I remember when my sister-in-law, the late Florence Van Tassel, called after more than one potato digging to tell me how she had made use of the vegetables (and she used them all). She was a fabulous cook who made up her own recipes so her soups and other dishes might have been made with potatoes, carrots, a few green beans and peas, corn kernels, and tomatoes—and more.
I have never been good at making up my own recipes, but I used to make a soup, Lyle’s favorite, using mostly ingredients from the garden. So, for a change of pace, I’m including the recipe in this column.
To make “Vegetable Hamburger Soup”, you will need: 1 pound of ground beef; 1 cup sliced celery and a few chopped celery leaves; 1 small to medium chopped onion; 2 cups cubed, raw potatoes; 2 medium carrots, sliced thin; 2 cans tomato sauce; ¼ cup raw rice (1/3 cup for a thicker soup); 6 cups water or more; 2 teaspoons salt; and pepper (to taste).
Cook the beef over low heat until it loses its red color. Pour off any grease. Put the beef in a large soup pot and add the other ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat to medium. Cook for an hour or more, until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally. Make the soup your own by adding other ingredients. Enjoy.
Here’s hoping the drought situation will improve next year! I can hardly wait to plant.
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