Putting Food By

Many moons ago when I was in high school and loved books every bit as much as I do now, I worked in a wonderfully quaint book store called Mad Tom’s in Manchester, Vermont.
One of my jobs was unpacking boxes of books that arrived freshly minted from the publisher.
It was a quiet little shop, so nestled between the stacks, I lingered over the titles and synopsises of the books as I unwrapped them.
I surely spent more on building my home library than saving anything in the local bank.

One of the books I remember, was called Putting Food By. It was about preserving food to enjoy later when the garden was under a deep drift of snow.

I was a newly converted vegetarian, yet to develop a taste for vegetables, and my repetoire of fruit consisted of apples and bananas. I knew nothing about cooking.
The centerpiece of my diet were soybeans that I soaked overnight, then browned in a pan with onions, drizzled with catsup! I did not know I was supposed to boil them …..for hours.

I grew up on velvetta cheese, frozen dinners, and canned spagetti o’s. My Mom had five kids and she threw up her hands in defeat when I sat at the dinner table. Very little pleased my discriminating palate.


I’m finally all grown up and love vegetables.

The last few days, the kitchen has become my laboratory, as I have been canning and freezing tomato sauce and making preserves.

Pals who know about my current passion have given me gorgeous books about canning.
But today, the title of this book floated back to memory from 1973, and I stopped by the library to see if it was still in print.

It is in its fifth edition and considered a classic.. It is not like a cookbook these days that begs attention with big glossy photos.
It is a no frills, text only, guide to preserving – a tough sell in todays world where we need bold images to capture our attention. We don’t take the time to linger over anything.

Thankfully, there are signs we’re tiring of living this way.
There is a lively movement afoot.

I was in a pet supply store yesterday to purchase bird seed.
I haven’t been able to get anywhere near the bird feeders the last few months because of the jungle of annuals grown to please the hummingbirds. They will migrate south any day now, so my thoughts are turning to the birds that I need to keep up my spirits through the long winter to come.

The bird seed had been relegated to a dark aisle in the rear, but piled high up front where 40 pounds bags of cracked corn and 40 pound bags of poultry feed and other supplies for tending chickens!
I spied chickens the other day, roosting comfortably on a neighbor’s front door stoop!


And lots of people are stocking their shelves and freezers with food grown locally and preserved at home.

There is uncertainty about our world.

Misgivings about our food supply.

Concerns about the purity of our water.

Some are taking back control of the things we can, and learning to be more self reliant, anxious about our future.

The rich bounty that this world provides us is awe-inspiring.

Lingering over the little things that feed us body and soul will help to fortify us for the time to come.

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One Response to Putting Food By

  1. John Sabik says:

    Whatever happened to the bookstore? I find myself planning a getaway retreat to Manchester for my newly to be wed nephew. I remember the bookstore from the early 70’s when I worked for the US Forest Service in Manchester Center and thought that it would be a place to stop at.

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