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Marilyn Heltzer: Stars of the garden

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columns Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Cucumbers, cabbage, and carrots are the stars of my garden this year.

While I admire folks who can, my "putting up for the winter ahead" is aimed at filling my freezer. Or, in the case of the cucumbers, filling the fridge. Memories of my past life in St. Louis Park, Minn., come to me as I make half-dills, which I call Lincoln Del pickles. And the bread and butter pickles were made following a recipe from the Puposky Community Cookbook. .

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Food, glorious food. It's universal. The orphans in "Oliver!" sing about it in the opening chorus of the musical based on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist."

"Food, glorious food,

We're anxious to try it

Three banquets a day

Our favorite diet"

But the poor orphans. All they get is gruel.

I got cabbage. All of it is now history. Eight heads. Some went into slaw. Some went into a recipe with hamburger, potatoes, and mushroom soup. Individual servings are now in the freezer, to be microwaved in the cold winter ahead. I gave one to my friend who I met for lunch. Is a whole cabbage an appropriate gift? I think so. My pal doesn't do vegetables in her garden. The last cabbage went into soup, then to the freezer.

As I work, I think of my Grandma Ida. She lacked modern conveniences. The cabbage from her garden went to a crock in the basement and became sauerkraut that her large family enjoyed for many months. Now, lacking a cool basement and a crock, I was delighted to find a recipe for making sauerkraut in a Mason jar.

Grandma also canned on a wood burning stove during hot August days of the past. My life includes all the modern conveniences: freezer, AC that cools the house, microwave, and, yes, even email. The last technical tool was used in an exchange with my old high school girlfriend who lives in California and had some advice on cabbage rolls.

Food, glorious food. The orphans sing on:

"What wouldn't we give for

That extra bit more

That's all that we live for....

Magical food, wonderful food"

Yes, my carrots are wonderful, too. They're the in my triumvirate of 2013 veggies. I've pulled a few of them already. But I haven't thinned the row as I should. The skinny little ones are delicious.

When it comes to saving carrots for winter, my Uncle Glenn carefully buried them in sand. A couple of big buckets of sand in my basement are ready. Google, of course, could spoil all the fun because the lore handed down by the forefathers like Uncle Glenn is also dispensed online. But let's not blame Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who founded Google, because their tool does come in so handy.

Many of us are very fortunate to have gardens and are blessed with the vegetables. And in this town, we are also blessed with organizations and volunteers, foundations and merchants, who see to it that those who can't go to the store and stock up, or to the garden to pull and pluck, get fed as well. The Bemidji Community Food Shelf, and the soup kitchen both help hungry people. And we unfortunately have a goodly number of them as well in our town.

Food, glorious food. Our bodies must have it. And as we help one another, our souls are nurtured as well. The growing season is coming to an end. But let our generosity continue.

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