herbs meet canning jar

fresh oregano in Kerr jar

Because a previous tenant planted oregano in the garden sometime back, by now it is a well established clump, producing enough for me to gather handfuls of leaves at a time, unlike the smaller herbs in pots on my balcony that I snip sparingly, with apologies to the little shoots. After cutting some oregano last week, I had a brainstorm when I realized my Prepara "herb-savor" was already full of garden flat-leaf parsley and I wasn't going to need all the oregano I'd gathered. Eureka! Pull out a wide-mouth canning jar, rinse the herbs off, tuck them into the jar, root-side down, add a little water, and screw the lid on—a glass herb saver. It's so simple. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

However, Googling the topic, I learned I'm not the first to have this particular lightbulb switch on: I'm joining the herbs-in-Mason-jars bandwagon, its merits sung by at least one "Christian homemaker." (Maybe homemakers, home all day, have more time to think about this kind of stuff?)

Anyway, I'm loving chopped fresh oregano in that baked polenta I mentioned. I can't imagine cooking without herbs, and readers are familiar with my fetish for Kerr jars. So on this topic, over the long weekend I read the first two books in a series recommended by a friend for its themes of ingenious thrift wrapped in humorous, vernacular dialogue, the characters three raucous old women who join forces as roommates, live in a San Diego junkyard called Noah's Ark, have adventures in bountiful poverty, tend towards matchmaking, and drink beer all day. I'm not exaggerating—the word 'beer' sits on almost every page, the ladies claiming they need beer to think, refresh, unwind, accompany all food, celebrate, and wake up/cure hangover. Mary Lasswell's descriptions of frugal yet delectable wartime meals are almost enough to make me return to meat eating, her characters' head-to-hoof menus of fresh vegetables, herbs, cheeses, and iron-rich animal parts sounding fully contemporary. Nestled into the herb-gardening and canning description below, the historical tidbit Lasswell tosses off concerning WWII U.S. internment camps struck me by its offhandedness (and pardon the vintage slur):

Mrs. Rasmussen dug up the back yard and planted a Victory garden—vegetables were no longer so plentiful in the markets with all the Jap vegetable-growers shut up in camps.  She had rows of herbs for seasoning: every spicy and savory thing that would grow.  In between bouts of cultivating and watering, she rounded up all the empty jars she could find in the junk-yard.  Her cucumbers would soon be ready to pickle and she would have loads of guavas for jelly . . . . —Mary Lasswell, High Time, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1944, p. 38

graffiti politics, Springwater Corridor

How domestic fashion cycles. Gardening, cooking, and canning are hip again, seventy years on. The only thing that changes, it seems, is the ethnicity of the vegetable growers. Seventy years from now, in a world of increasing desertification, will Americans be picking bok choy for China, America the new Mexico?

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