Dreams of a Summer Kitchen…
I had a very lovely, half-waking dream last night. My boyfriend and I were talking about apartments/cottages we’d like to rent when I move out east this summer, and he was looking at stuff online and found this little tiny house for rent with a couple of outbuildings. We were also doing that “dream about the future” thing a lot of couples tend to do together and we’d both like to have a little land in the country.
Now, I have always wanted to plant fruit trees. Apple, plum, cherry, and gooseberries/greengages top the list. I often drool over the Fedco Seed tree/shrub catalog (Fedco is a heirloom/sustainable seed company in Maine that purveys rare and cold-hearty varieties of all kinds of fruits & veg). I also grew up with rhubarb and making “sauce” (1 c. sugar to every 4 c. chopped rhubarb. Cook down. Add the sugar at the end. Serve on toast, ice cream, roast chicken, etc.). My mother also tells tales (heard from her mother) of how my great-grandma did meals. Grandma Ruby would go down into the root cellar with a big washtub (the giant galvanized steel kind, not a dishtub — She had 10 siblings), fill it with potatoes, grab two quarts canned vegetables, and a quart of canned “sauce” (cooked, canned fruit without pectin, usually rhubarb). With a little meat and some fresh bread, that was their supper every day.
So in this wonderful dream I had, the boy and I were living in a small (but not tiny) house out in the country that had a summer kitchen. It was a simple affair: a gas stove, single sink with a tall curved faucet, and oiled wooden tables, waist height, on both sides. The windows faced north (sunlight but not as much heat) and all my canning stuff was out there. In the dream, I was snipping gooseberries and chopping rhubarb to make simple “sauces.” Just fruit & sugar. And then I would can them. It got my creative recipe-flavor-thinking side going (like I said, it was a half-awake dream, almost like a daydream, but at night) and I started thinking about other fruit I could do that with: plums, strawberries (with pepper!), raspberries, cranberries, cherries, even yellow pear tomatoes. Stuff you could cook with the skins on. I also got thinking about apple butter. And then I started dreaming about wicker baskets lined with cute fabric and filled with little pint and half-pint jars of canned sauce I would give as gifts. And how much fun it would be to can sauce once or twice a month with whatever was in season.
It was a realistic enough dream that I even realized what hot and sticky work canning is, and how nice it would be to have a summer kitchen so as not to heat up the house, and being able to go for a swim in the pond (or maybe the salt pool) when I was done.
The boy and I have dreamed of country life. He wants a tractor, at least 16 acres, a pond, and a sheltie (and maybe ducks). I just want enough room for a garden and some fruit trees and to get away from the noise of the city.
Who knows if our dream will come true? We’re pretty modest folk. We don’t need a big fancy house (though a guestroom and office/library space would be nice); it’s more to clean anyway. And the boy spent his childhood on a farm/small-scale cattle operation and the rest of his life living in the country.
My mom recently picked up the magazine, “Hobby Farm Home,” which while mostly pretentious and filled with over-priced “country” goods (I much prefer “Mother Earth News” for homesteading/hobby farm info), it got me to dreaming.
Here’s to hoping that someday we’ll be able to afford a hobby farm that’s not too much of a commute to our jobs.