Transformation of a city girl

I grew up in Kansas City. My dad was a structural engineer for a large firm named Black and Veatch. My mom stayed home raising kids until we were self sufficient enough for her to go back to work. She worked in administration for KC Southern Railroad. We lived in 1960s-70s suburbia and didn’t want for much of anything in the way of creature comforts.

Being a Depression-era child living in the Missouri Ozarks, my mom’s family didn’t have much of anything. As soon as possible she fled that lifestyle and embraced all things of convenience. Potatoes came in boxes and veggies came in cans along with spaghetti-os. Cookies came in a cellophane-sealed bag from the store. I remember when Spam was a meat product. I also remember when signs for the Golden Arches in the 60s boasted serving over one million hamburgers. Being a city girl in suburbia, there were no veggie gardens in the backyards. Everything we ate came from the big, shiny supermarket neatly wrapped in plastic or conveniently sealed in a box or can.

I went to college and promptly fell for Entrepreneur, a country boy from Lohman, a small town outside of Jefferson City, MO. Little did I know my transformation was about to begin.

First, I was introduced to sweet corn from the garden. Pulled, shucked, cleaned and cooked in less than 60 minutes. I tasted vegetables I never knew existed. Shortly after we were married (yes, he saved this gem for after we were married), I had my first experience in the butcher house wrapping the beef or pork that was being cut up in the next room. It was great fun to see how uncomfortable his extended family could make the “city girl” in that environment. Showing her an eyeball was hysterical fun.

Our newlywed year of dinners were a little rough but, slowly, I learned how to cook not from a box or can. But I’ve never been crazy enough to completely walk away from convenience. I know how to cook from scratch when I need/want to.

Being a country boy, Entrepreneur had the benefit of being taught how to garden. He wanted desperately to escape the small town, rural life for the lights of the big city, but some things are just ingrained in our DNA. I can barely remember time when we have not had a vegetable garden.

In 1990 we built our first house outside the city limits on two acres. Our general contractor’s wife taught me the art of hot water bath and pressure canning garden vegetables and it opened up a whole new world. The first year of our backyard veggie garden yielded enough green beans to last two years. More than once I’ve sunk up to mid-shin in mud while repositioning corn stalks that were blown down in storms before they were properly “hilled.”

Since then, I’ve learned how to can and freeze sweet corn, make pickles, can/freeze/pickle beets, green beans and okra. I’ve dug potatoes and onions to overwinter in the basement. With the help of a blender, both Peanut and Twix reaped the benefits of this with homemade baby food until they could eat regular food from the table. We even blended up pot roast dinners for them.

My transformation didn’t stop at the dinner table. When our daughters were young, I became a youth group leader by default. This included taking groups of little girls into the woods to go camping, Remember….city girl….never really camped a day in her life growing up. In fact, I was a Girl Scout drop out.

But, I changed….in true chameleon form. I learned how to identify snakes and spiders. I learned how to immediately spot poison ivy. I learned how to pitch a tent and build a fire and cook over it. I learned about every bug you could think of and how to teach little girls not to freak out when they saw one. Skills I’m trying to teach the next generation. The other day, Peanut came, put her arm around me and grinned…and then I noticed it…..a daddy longlegs on her hand….on my shoulder.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my creature comforts and conveniences. I would never want to go back to the days of my grandmothers. I can strap on a pair of heels and frost myself with jewelry for an evening out…..but, I also can make a mean homemade Dutch apple pie and can fry okra with the best of ’em.

I’m a hybrid.


16 thoughts on “Transformation of a city girl

  1. My parents never had a garden in my memory, and my dad was a meat, potatoes, and canned veggie guy. Early in my marriage I learned to garden, can, and blend veggies and steamed meats for baby food. I deal with insects, but never got over my hatred of tomato horned worms.

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  2. I was raised on a dairy farm and we raised our own meat, steer, pigs and chickens. We had a huge garden and mom would can for days and days and it would last a year. The freezer full of meat and the canning all done and we were set for another year. Mom made her own pasta and baked bread. We needed little from the store. You made me smile with this post.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend, Lisa. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great life story. Our garden plot is too small to produce enough for canning. But I do freeze enough sour cherries for pies and squares all year. And sometimes enough raspberries for jam making. The deer like the raspberries though, and I’ve long since resigned myself to sharing with them.

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  4. FAAAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS post, Lisa! And oh, how I enjoyed reading it. For as long as you and I have been blogging, I didn’t know about your journey to becoming a country girl!

    “….the Golden Arches in the 60s boasted serving over one million hamburgers. ” That made me smile because, yes, I clearly remember seeing that while driving by McDonald’s. In fact, one of my first jobs was working at Mc Donald’s

    And I think you’re absolutely right. You can BE and ENJOY being a country girl, but at the same time enjoy your creature comforts and conveniences.

    You have the best of both worlds!

    And btw, that photo of the corn made my mouth water – some nice warm butter and salt – deeeeeeeelicious!

    Thanks for sharing, my friend! And it’s funny because I’m starting to feel a transformation myself. I’m starting to feel myself being drawn more to outside the city limits. I’m craving some peace and quiet; particularly after these 2 1/2 years of political chaos in Philadelphia. I’ll keep you posted!


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  5. It’s good to have a feel of both. It’s funny, when I was younger I always saw myself in a small city etc. But as I’ve grown older, I’m glad I am not in that setting as I just wouldn’t enjoy that lifestyle. I like it smaller and more simple (for the most part).


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