Last week: Husband: “what are we gonna do with the grapes? Theres a ton of them.”
Me: “Oh, I forgot about the grapevine in the back yard.” Really I’ve forgotten about the entire backyard all together since its summer we are either at the beach or at someone’s pool when we venture outdoors. Hanging out on our own land is reserved for the spring and fall because GOD forbid the basketball court and plenty of room to play is enough in the summer for the children of suburbia in the year 2015…but anyway,
So we have this grapevine. It’s not just any grapevine because of course EVERYTHING has it’s story. This grapevine (or a tiny piece of it) was given to my husband and I on the day of my nana’s funeral about 5 1/2 years ago. My nana whom you’ve read quite a bit about here over the past year, lived in a small mining town in upstate PA and had this amazing grapevine her backyard that as kids, my cousins and I would play under and around. This grapevine was supposedly brought here from Italy in the early 20th century. Now, I have no idea whether or not I should believe that a partial grapevine took a boat ride lasting a few weeks only to be smuggled into the country pre-WWI but its sounds like a sweet story so, OK. That’s what happened according to Theresa G.
From year to year the grapes were harvested off of this modest backyard vine. Sometimes the cousins and I would be involved in harvesting these grapes each fall. When I say involved I mean playing and making a mess while my mom and her siblings and my nana would pick, clean, cook and jar the jelly.
For me, and most of my cousins, the grapevine was just a really cool part of Nana’s backyard. It was a place to take pictures on Easter Sunday and hide the eggs for the hunt, and a place to hide from the adults in the house. Nevertheless, We got a piece to keep as a memory. Mainly because my husband has a major green thumb and a knack for landscaping. He also loves a challenge and likes to learn new things. I’m not always that motivated in the gardening department. But I like pretty things so we (he) learned how to take care of it.
And it grew like crazy over the past 5 years. This year we had the most grapes to date. Enough to make some stuff. So what did I do? I called my mom. And overbooked a Thursday. Anything to keep a tradition alive.
I’m super awesome at organizing and delegating but it often takes a village (or just my mom and some of her grandkids) to pull off my ideas while I tend to 4 thousand other things.
My Nana used to make Grape jelly and grape juice and sometimes Uncle Frank and Aunt Mimi made some super concentrated vino. We’re not ready for that yet so my mom came armed with all the trimmings to make the jelly and some juice.
Step 1 get some kids to help nana (my mom) pick the grapes because of course Hubs and I are working that day. Well, I had a little bit of time to help clean them during my morning coffee…
So here’s where the real work begins and I leave the scene. Of course as part of the overbooked Thursday Eloise and I have Kindergarten orientation (during my work day as well as the grape production – if you’re keeping track that is 3 projects).
So we split the scene for a wardrobe change (of course there’s a wardrobe change; the outfits for grape picking and kindergarten orientation are WAAAYYY different), leaving nana with 2 grandkids and a husband who was on his way out in 10 minutes, to finish the picking and cleaning. So mom took some pics of the next few steps; the cooking and draining process. This takes about 4 hours so there was plenty of time for my dear sister-in-law to come over armed with a delicious lunch from Trader Joes and also towing with her, the last grandkid. Eloise and I, after a successful orientation came back to food and no work.
Now this is not a recipe post as that’s not really the point but if you’re looking for a slightly similar but a little simpler one, you can find it in this month’s issue of Martha Stewart Living. This one doesn’t require the sure gel step. For whatever reason, I don’t know the reason because I haven’t read it. My mom told me. 🙂
So that was that. We revived the tradition a little half-assed this year. After my mom finished the project (MAJOR PROPS) and we were all jarred up and cleaned up, we then had to cook some dinner, get ready for soccer and also a party at my sister-in-law’s house. Oh, and finish the actual work day. It all came together though. And we had a fun night under the stars. Thanks Suz 😉
A few observations:
- I wouldn’t have been a part of this at all if I was still commuting and working crazy retail schedule.
- The jelly and grape juice came out great and now my mom should be ready to really teach us all next year.
- Sometimes traditions go away for a bit but there’s always room to bring the important ones back. And what do I like most about traditions? Making them a party!
- So next year will be the 1st annual grape harvest at my house. We will make it a party; which means wine and food will be involved. It will be planned way in advance so all parties involved can help, and will not include work, school etc. It will be a weekend day with no sports. I’m putting this in writing.
And Nana TT will be watching (and silently judging lovingly), from heaven.