Today we snapped beans.
Well… I snapped beans. The Pickle (what I lovingly call my very young daughter) never quite got the concept and preferred to take them out of the bag and throw them directly into the trash. Whole.
So really, today I snapped beans and threw the little ends and strings onto the floor. That way she would feel like she was helping by throwing those pieces in the trash. And she did! She’s a great little helper.
The point is, I always think of my grandma when I’m doing something so mundane and domestic like this. When she was a young girl growing up in Kansas they killed their own chickens, for crying out loud. They peeled bushels of potatoes. They milked cows. They had a garden because you had to have a garden or you starved! And I can see in my mind’s eye a very young girl sitting on the front porch next to a woman in a long apron, patiently being instructed on how to snap beans and de-string them. I wonder if my grandma looked back on those days fondly? Hot summer days on the porch getting ready for supper.
My personal fond memories were of picking sweet corn. Truckloads of sweet corn! (literally) And while I hated the heat down among those rows where no breeze blew and the bugs came to you for relief, I now look back fondly on the evenings of sitting on our porch shucking corn. My mom carefully slicing it off and flash-boiling it so we could freeze it. It was the best sweet corn in the world… because I was part of making it happen.
A few months ago I sat on our front stoop and peeled potatoes while the Sweet Pickle played in the dirt. It was glorious! And refreshing. And cleansing for the soul.
Pulling a box out of the freezer and cooking it in the microwave? (which we don’t have, by the way) There is nothing memorable about that. Screaming for the kids to get out of the kitchen and leave you alone because you have to finish cooking. That just hurts… and creates children who don’t know how to cook, or clean vegetables, or stir gravy, and ultimately are not as appreciative of the food that is set before them.
Is it mundane? Yes.
Time-consuming? Of course.
Annoying to realize that you have limited time to get dinner ready and you still have to snap the flipping beans? A little.
Worth every second (and every dig through the trash)? Absolutely.
Because while I realized that I had a whole bag of frozen beans in the freezer, there was something sweet & nostalgic about snapping beans with my little girl. It was time that we spent. Together. Engaged in an activity. Learning. Listening. Even laughing! And I thought, we need to do more of this. I need to be intentional about this.
And I thought, someday we’ll snap beans from our own garden (these were given to us… see Grandma, I’m not wasting anything!) and my Pickle will understand that her food actually comes from somewhere real- not a grocery store freezer. She’ll see there is a process. And maybe she’ll try more things because she knows where they come from. And maybe they’ll taste better because she will have done them herself. And maybe she’ll appreciate the hard work I put into a meal, or she’ll be proud of the hard work that SHE put into a meal! (because I have every intention of passing cooking duties on to her as soon as possible. Cooking duties and dishwashing duties! and mopping… and… that’s another post)
And maybe someday she will look back on the days where we did mundane, time-consuming, not flash-frozen activities together that met a need in our life- and think of them fondly.
Do you have any fond memories of cooking with someone?