Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Ultimate Compliment

Two weeks ago, a colleague grabbed me in the hallway, gushing, "Just the person I have been wanting to see!"  Really, what a nice greeting.  She proceeded to tell me that the bibs I knit for her son are their absolute favorite bibs, tacking on a request to knit some more for her daughter.  She offered to pay.  Of course I agreed to maker more, flattered by the compliment; however, instead of payment, I suggested  she make a donation to our local PAWS in memory of a fellow member of her history department, a wonderful man (and teacher) who died too soon last June.  I finished the bibs this weekend.

I am uncertain what compels me to be continually on the "make" with yarn and needles; I always have a project or two piled in a knitting basket or bag, I always have yarn and patterns awaiting, and I am always making lists and rearranging lists of projects and gift ideas to give to family and friends.  I am never totally certain people really enjoy the things I make as much as I relish making them.  And maybe that's okay.  The making + the giving = a needed spark of creativity in my daily life. It isn't essential to know exactly how they are used after I wrap these projects up and gift them to someone.

These bibs are included in what would certainly be listed among my top ten favorite knitting books--Mason Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide.  The book contains simple patterns, many made with dishcloth yarn, along with wonderful stories of knitting, craft, and friendship.  If you knit, buy it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Green Beans and Applesauce

It was a bit of a joke with my husband--any Herman family meal was incomplete without green beans and applesauce.  While that is not precisely true, it is also not too far off the mark.  As a child growing up in the 50's and 60's, I think I experienced a rather scant vegetable choice from Birds Eye, and for some crazy reason, which is no longer true, neither my brother nor I were fond of broccoli, brussels sprouts, or asparagus. The green vegetable was, truth be told, often green beans (or the other staple--peas).  The applesauce bit is actually a better story.

My Herman grandparents both descended from farming families; therefore, when they purchased their home in Coreopolis, they bought several acres, enough for huge gardens, both vegetable and flower, and a small orchard of fruit trees (apple, peach, pear, and cherry).  Their apple trees were an old variety, a summer Transparent apple. I think this variety is no longer readily available. Lodi is the closest thing to it.  My applesauce  (and apple pie!) palate was formed by Grandma Herman's applesauce, and they way I make it with a Foley Food Mill is the way she taught me and also the same way my mother made it.  My mother would can two bushels of apples each summer, a day-long family project, and we routinely plucked those quart jars from her basement canning shelf.  Applesauce was served often and at any meal--breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The legacy lives on.  A couple of weeks ago, my daughter in law asked me if I would teach her how to make and can applesauce. This weekend when Rob came up to root Penn State onto what turned out to be a disappointing loss (so sad), Alexis came up for the canning lesson, which is really the passing on of a family tradition. She took to it so naturally...I couldn't be more pleased.