It's green bean, sweet corn and tomato season, and that means hard work, a steamy, fragrant kitchen and laughter.
Because my husband watched as a wide-eyed little boy the day his mom's pressure cooker exploded (a malfunctioning safety valve) we've never canned much. No one was hurt that day, but he tells me frozen vegetables taste better anyway.
When our kids -- now all grown -- lived at home, we had lots of help when it was time to put up green beans, corn and tomatoes. Now that they all live on their own we don't need quite so much in the freezer, but we still freeze corn, tomato sauce, and green beans because it's such a pleasure, in the middle of winter, to pull out those frozen packets of summer's goodness.
The kids used to try to hide when it was time to shuck corn or snap beans, but we tracked them down and persuaded them back to the kitchen to help. These days, they still come to help when they can -- voluntarily. They come to give us a hand, to snag some of those frozen packages of vegetables for their own freezers, and to share in the fun.
Yesterday, though, it was just my husband and me. He shucked the corn and I blanched it. Together we cut the corn off the cob and bagged it for the freezer. Our golden lab scouted the floor for kernels of corn we dropped -- making her a real corn-dog.
It's hard work but we didn't mind. The whole time we worked we talked and laughed; the table covered in corn silk and cobs, just enjoying the rhythm of the work and each other's company.
Later this summer I'll freeze tomato sauce; this coming winter that sauce will be delicious for spaghetti, or soup or lasagna. At least some of the green beans and corn will show up on our Thanksgiving table. We'll be nourished twice: once by the actual vegetables themselves, and once again by the memory of the fun we had doing all that hard work.