Bountiful: The Joy of Being a Total Ouiser

Clairee: “Why do you give all these to me?”
Ouiser Boudreaux: “Somebody’s gotta take em, I hate em, I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it.”

Anelle: “Then why do you grow them?”
Ouiser: “Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!”

–  Steel Magnolias

I’ve been working really hard on looking at positives this Summer. Summer makes looking at positives much easier, what with all the sunshine, and water, and ice cream and such. Basically, that means I’m trying to make quick work of the things I don’t enjoy, and then finding (making) the time to do the things I love. Reading, writing, running, dog cuddles, listening to music, dabbling in the worst painting ever (anyone local want to take a painting class with me?), volleyball. . . Hell, y’all. I’m taking up tennis again. But the thing that absolutely brings me the most joy? My garden.

My garden has expanded in the last couple of years. Instead of the one bed I started out with down at the street, we now have a sunnier spot in the side yard and we’ve put two more beds there. I love vegetables. Pretty much all vegetables. But tomatoes. Oh, tomatoes! They are my heart and soul.

And I went a little bit overboard this year with the tomato plants. Not really, but keeping up with all of them has proven challenging. We have tomatoes lining the windows.

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And tomatoes (and okra, and basil, and cucumbers, and peppers and beans) in baskets.

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In response we’ve taken to pickling and freezing like we were my Grandma. Our fridge is already packed to the gills with pickles. And pickled things. The last few days, we’ve been bombarded with more vegetables than we can possibly eat. I gave a bunch to my sister. And today, I spent the day putting up veggies.

So, I made another jar of dills, and then an extra “Kitchen Sink” jar – Cucumbers, green beans, jalapenos, and banana peppers all jammed in together.

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I made okra and tomatoes. Reminds me of my mama. So good, even if I’m probably the only one that will eat it.

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I’ve already frozen about a kabillion cherry tomatoes, but I froze some more. (Those are easy. Dump them in a bag. Seal the bag. Freeze them. Use over the winter for sauces and soups. Yum.)

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We still have tons more of the cherries, so we will probably make caprese salad for dinner every night this week. My favorite and the kids like it, too. (Although, let’s be honest, it’s just a vehicle for olive oil and mozzarella, right?)

And I also tried out roasting cherry tomatoes and they were so damn good that the neighbor kid and I almost ate them all and had no more to freeze. I’ll have to do those again. Easy and delicious.

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I made a ton of pesto. I usually make it every week or so during the summer and then freeze it. There is nothing better than homemade pesto on a cold night in January. I put it in piles on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then put them in freezer bags for storage.

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This time, though, I put some in mason jars to freeze. I’m hoping that will help with the color issue. Freezing it makes it lose it’s brighter green color and it basically ends up looking like baby poo. It does not taste like baby poo. We’ll see how that goes. That second jar below got hit hard, because I had to taste it and make sure that it tasted alright. It’s gonna be pretty good, I think. I also feel sick from too much pure pesto ingestion.

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And then to cap it all off, I set up some of my herbs to dry: Marjoram, oregano, lemongrass, chamomile, lemon thyme, tarragon, and chives. (Already have a ton of dried basil.) Finally found a use for my grandma’s clothes pins that I brought home from the lake. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them. Weird, I know.

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I know. I’m a total Ouiser. This is universally acknowledged by all who know me: Cantankerous, sharp-tongued, blunt and honest. I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years.

But growing things makes me happy, and makes me feel tethered to the earth, and I am going to be super pleased to have that frozen stuff over the winter. I’m gonna need some help eating the pickles this summer, though, so hit me up if you like pickled things. And I’ll definitely have them at Wednesday night pool dinners, so come by and have some.

P.s. Debbie, if you read this, and you like pickles or pesto or anything else you have seen above, I would like to propose a trade, because I badly want to try your ice cream. Badly.

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  4 comments for “Bountiful: The Joy of Being a Total Ouiser

  1. July 18, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    You need to make my freezer pickles. Oh, and add some lemon juice to the pesto and see what it does for the color.

  2. July 18, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Freezer pickles? Will try the lemon juice trick. Thanks.

  3. Virginia Palmer
    July 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Send some of your bounty north. Dad loves pickled anything and you got your love of tomatoes from your mama!

  4. July 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Will do, Mama.

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