Taste of Home
I was born and raised in Illinois, and my extended family lives there to this day. My parents still own our former house there (which my Dad built, and they now rent out). My Mom goes back about every 8 weeks or so to help out my Gram. I get back as often as I can, which let’s face it – isn’t often enough. I love it there. I was raised in a small town that had a population of less than 2,000 when I was growing up. No stoplights. No fast-food restaurants. (They now have both). My best friend/neighbor was homeschooled, did not have a TV, was in 4-H and had a horse named Nettie. There was an apple orchard in our “neighborhood” (which was made up of a private lane with 7 houses on it). Nowadays when I imagine living in that environment , it gives me the shakes. No thank you. I’m a city girl now. But, back then – I loved it. It was quaint and perfect. Let’s just say, my IL roots run deep.
My Dad had to be back in IL for work (his company is based there) for a couple of weeks at the end of September, and as he drove up there (crazy man!), he offered to bring home anything that we wanted.
After hearing all of my requests… he might have regretted offering.
First I asked him to get me some Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. It is unavailable here in NC, and I’ve heard it is one of the kings of pumpkin beer (which I adore). Done and done.
Second, he brought me a huge bag of apples from our neighbor’s apple orchard. That’s right, I grew up across from an apple orchard. Benny & Shirley gave me my first job (when I was in single digits!)… picking up the apples that had fallen from the trees. I distinctly remember… I could choose to get paid $3… OR… get a gallon of their homemade apple cider as payment. I always chose the cider. I was a foodie even in the 1980s!
I also asked my Dad to hunt down some canned pumpkin. I had just gotten wind of the pumpkin shortage, and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find any down here in Charlotte. Libby’s Pumpkin is based in Morton, IL – where something like 95% of the canned pumpkin sold worldwide is processed. And most of that pumpkin is grown with 50 miles of the processing plant there. Morton is just a town over from where I grew up, so in a way canned pumpkin has always seemed a bit like a “local product” to me.
Well, he is accepted this challenge… and then some. This is what my current pumpkin stash looks like today, thanks to my Dad hunting down every can between Illinois and North Carolina…
He also brought me a stash of my Grandpa’s old canning jars. I have become obsessed with Ball jars over the past couple of years, and am constantly collecting them. I’ll have to buy new rings and lids for these, but otherwise I’ll be set for a long time!
My Gram and Grandpa used to do a LOT of canning back in the day. I really wish my Grandpa was around today to see just how interested I’ve become in all of his old loves… (gardening, canning, etc). Unfortunately he has been gone from us for 14 years now. It’s hard to believe it has been that long.
It was such a treat to get these goodies from Illinois… Thanks, Dad!
I’ve eaten at least an apple a day, since receiving my stash – and I swear I’ve hardly made a dent in my supply. Yum.