My friend Keetha, from down Winona way, is a writer of blogs, of cookbooks, of prose capturing the heat of the day, the swell of a proud heart, the tastes and feel of a wonderful Southern town/family/way of speaking and thinking and cooking. Her own blog Write Kudzu was one of the first on my sidebar when I began Lawn Tea, and it's always a treat to see it blink on at the top (kinda like the "Hot Now" sign on Krispy Kreme).
Today, she's again taking a simple, wonderful thing, and relating it to cooking, memories, family history, and the carrying-on of traditions in one of the best ways possible---doing things like a dear Grandmother did---because of love, of connection, and because it WORKS.
One way of being green:
My grandmother kept a pantry full of them: mason jars, Ball jars, mayonnaise jars. She didn’t have pickle jars, because she made them. Neither did she have jelly jars because she made jelly and jam, too. I picture her buying canning jars one time, early in her fifty-year marriage. She used the same ones over and over. Like most people her age, she was frugal. Those jars were practical, a way to store foods.
She’d be amused, I think, by how popular mason jars are now. People decorate with them, up-cycle them to use as vases and gifts. High-end home magazines show them all over the house, looking stylish and chic.
I’m right there with those decorators, in love with jars. There is something so pleasing and restful about the shape of canning jars. They give the eye a place to rest.
An old Ball jar sits on a shelf in the kitchen.
An empty jar, a brand new canning jar, with a lid, sits on my desk for no particular reason except that I like it.
I have a quilted glass jar that is filled with dirt from the site of the first house I remember living in in
. The house was empty and falling in when I was in high school. I must have told myself a hundred times to stop and get a brick, a doorknob, something from that home. I never did. Eventually the old house was knocked down and everything taken away. The Mississippi Delta earth in a glass jar is what I have of it. Shelby, Mississippi
I like old jars. I like new ones. They’re simple and reusable and attractive.
They’re great for gifts of food. I was hunting up something to put a batch of toffee in that I was giving as a little “happy.” I didn’t want a Ziploc bag, or a plastic container, or even a cellophane bag. I snapped the toffee into wedges and filled a canning jar with the buttery pieces. It was easy and it looked great.
There are a couple of reused jars in my pantry filled with white beans and popping corn.
I’m drawn to old ones at thrift stores and gravitate toward boxes of new ones in the grocery store aisle next to the picking spice.
Like my grandmother, I keep empty jars in the pantry. I have pasta sauce jars, pimiento jars, jars that held marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and pickles. No mayonnaise jars; they’re all plastic now.
I like having the jars to draw from, and using them over and over. I love finding that kinship with my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who's been gone some five years now. Alzheimer’s had taken her from us ten years before that. Here something as simple as an ordinary household item keeps a connection from me to her.