The Old Picnic Table
Summer days bring with them memories of long ago. A time of gathering and glowing with the kiss of the Kansas sun. Prairie grasses waved in the sun; children climbed silos; and 'old folks' told tales. Walk with me through the years, back to my growing up days, were I ran free in the summer sun. Walk with me back to the prairie.
You could tell family was coming to the farm; my grandmother would get antsy in the kitchen. Days and days of baking and preparing would yield a tell tale sign of a family gathering. Our standard fair: hamburgers on the grill with all the fixings.
In the farm kitchen we stood pressing patties (heaven forbid someone suggest pre-made). Cheese slice wrappers lay between each one to keep them from sticking- she had saved and washed those wrappers just for such a need. Treats were made and placed on the old card table: cookies and pies, sometimes a cake, too. With all the work, there was always the concern- might not be enough.
As the afternoon sun shifted in the sky and chores were finished the grill was pulled to the side of the house where the garage doors open - the same place we would sit and clean garden vegetables- the place where you could see the barn, shop, some of the fields, and most importantly- company driving up the drive.
Grandpa and Uncle Randy would haul the old picnic table around there for us. I would run from the house to the picnic table setting out all the necessities: ketchup and mustard, pickles and onions, lettuce and tomatoes- my grandfather's favorite chips- bread for the burgers and drinks for everyone (iced tea, of course).
The grill fired up as family members backed the trucks up near our picnic table; there were never enough places to sit! Some of the used the tail gates for placing the food items, some sat on them to eat. Bread slices were graced with hot hearty burgers- each dressed their own just as they liked it. My grandpa loved to stuff bar-b-que chips in his, naturally, I had to give it a try...yum! Sitting by him, my feet dangled from the bench swinging left and right (at least till someone noticed- sit still, you're shaking the whole table).
When the sun fell in the sky, the family lingered there at the old picnic table. The chatter of catching up, of reminiscing, of goings-on filled the air. Food was carried in and desserts tasted as my cousins and I chased lightning bugs; giggling and running in the prairie winds. Even as I headed in to bed, they lingered around the table- visions of the day danced in my dreams.
The old picnic table now makes it's home with me, way down south. Never do I pass it by that I don't see the gathering of family or hear the chatter of loved ones. When we sit at the old table, I share the tales of long ago, when my family gathered on the farm with simple food, simple lives, simple fun.
Farmhouse Dill Pickles
4 qts. medium cucumbers
8 sprays of dill
4 garlic cloves
1 qt. vinegar (here I used white)
1 c. salt
3 qts. water
The day before, we wash the cucumbers and cover them with water in a bowl. They stand overnight.
The next way, put a spray or two of dill and one clove of garlic in each jar. Pack your cucumbers (prepared as you like) into your jars (size of jar depends on your preference...I use whatever is available). Combine vinegar, salt and water in a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Fill the jars to overflowing with the vinegar mixture. Now seal them in your water bath or pressure canner.
You can dig in anytime you want, but for best flavor, we let them cure for six weeks in a dark pantry before opening.