Beautiful dried tomatoes. Aren’t they lovely? Never would I have thought it would take a dried tomato to pull me out of a homemaking slump, but nevertheless…
Let me back up just a little.
I was so excited to have such a huge garden this year. In previous years we’ve had such a hard time plowing through the sod and trying to deal with the clay that I would either end up with a really small garden or a garden that got flooded out. My mind was filled with images of rows and rows of home canned goods on my pantry shelves and a happy, full family this winter.
The summer started off well enough. I found some good deals on peaches and apricots, so I canned them. I froze plenty of zucchini and yellow squash and filled up my freezer.
Then came the beans.
I carefully picked, washed, cut, blanched them, and placed them in jars. I placed the lids on and put them in the pressure canner. After the first batch finished and cooled I took them out of the canner only to realize that half of the water had come out during processing. I was upset, but things happen, so I got the next batch ready and put it in.
Again, same thing. Now, feeling pretty upset, I put in the final batch to just have it fail as well.
I tossed my kitchen towel on the counter and went upstairs to breath. “I’m done with canning.” I thought. “What on earth is wrong with me?”
Over the next few days I silently fumed about my canning mess. Trying to figure out what I did wrong and what was wrong with my canner. (Of course I finally realized it was siphoning and I wasn’t closing my lids tight enough and getting a little too much in the jars.) Once I calmed down and reminded myself that from not canning at all last year (while we were in the camper) I had just forgotten a few things (and still can’t find my canning notes and books!).
I really needed to take a step back and figure out why I decided it was ok to get so upset over something that was honestly not that big of a deal.
Here’s where the dried tomatoes come in.
Canning tomatoes has been a struggle in the last few weeks. I do not like the taste of adding lemon juice into canned tomatoes and citric acid isn’t an option for my son. I froze a few bags, but when my freezer filled up and I had 50 pounds of tomatoes on my table, I wondered where I was supposed to go from here. Already fed up from canning and preserving in general, I stopped staring at the totes of tomatoes that needed to be worked on and went into my pantry to clean it up. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted my dehydrator, sitting on the shelf and just waiting for fruit season (we love dried fruit!). I pulled it off the shelf, cleaned it all up and began slicing the tomatoes. Hubby came in the kitchen to see what I was working on and I told him (and was way too excited about this!) “I’m going to dry them! I’m going to dry the tomatoes!” Not only would it solve my tomato issue, but also help with a huge storage issue we are facing. Plus, it did not heat up my kitchen like canning.
But coming up with a solution for the tomatoes is not the end to my story. I’ve felt like a failure all summer. Canning? That’s my thing! Homemaking and food storage? That’s my thing! I was glad I finally solved my homemaking problem with the dried tomatoes, but not happy about my feelings over the last few weeks.
The truth is, I needed this lesson. I needed to fail and have to find another solution. I needed to remember that I’m no Martha Stewart. None of us are. In fact, Martha Stewart isn’t even Martha Stewart. She’s made up of many many people that are testing and trying things out until they have a perfect version. That perfection is the only part we see, we don’t see the trial and error. The tears and the frustration. The failure. And I wish we did.
We are all just human. All trying to do the best for our families. Failing isn’t the end of the road, it’s just showing us and those around us that we are trying! We are going to have great days and we are going to have not so great days. We are going to create something perfect and sometimes we are going to cover the stove top in a tea and soap mixture mess that doesn’t seem to scrape off no matter what. It’s going to happen and it’s totally ok because it happens to everyone, whether than can admit it or not. It’s just part of the learning process and it reminds us that not one of us can ever be perfect, but it’s how we make it through these times of difficulty and what we learn from them that makes us better.
So I want you to know: sometimes I’m a failure and that’s totally ok with me.