Canning Tomatos and Politics

This episode is all about the nostalgia of canning vegetables and remembering my grandparents in the kitchen when I was a child and how that experience helps ground you especially during political seasons like this election year.

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Tony Randazzo: 

It’s hard to speak your mind these days. voicing your opinion is tough and a climate where you’re either seen as an ultra conservative or a bleeding heart liberal. But what about our perspective? What about the Gen X perspective? Hi, I’m Tony a latchkey kid from the 80s and 90s. Now I’m in my 40s wearing cargo shorts, collecting Star Wars figures and reminiscing about the days before my first cell phone. The Gen X perspective is for us caught somewhere in between boomers and Millennials are we see things a bit differently? I’m tired of staying silent. It’s time to rant, discuss, unload and debate join Tony and his guests as they tackle the topics of Pop Culture, Sports, religion, and yes, even politics. If life’s a Rubik’s Cube, we’ve got the experience To tackle it, welcome to the Gen X perspective with Tony Randazzo. Hey, how’s everybody doing today? Wow. seems like just yesterday that I was sitting at my grandma’s kitchen counter up on the stool, watching her cut up tomatoes. Preparing the can. Now canning all of a sudden has become this really popular thing again for more people than it ever has. So just to give you a little background so if you go out today to your local store, and you try to buy canning jars, like those ball jars, you know with the the two piece lids on them that so many people use for arts and crafts nowadays and they spent more time I think over the last 20 The years being used that way or longer are now being used for their purpose for canning. Food. And for me, I remember my family grandparents specifically, not my parents, but my grandparents canning, primarily tomatoes. So being a Sicilian Italian family. My most vivid memory is canning tomatoes, but I remember my grandmother used to can just about everything on the planet. If you could stick it in a jar and cook it and seal it up. They would do that. And it was because you know, going to the grocery store was expensive. And and it was cheaper to, you know, go to either the local farmer or to your garden in the backyard and, you know, pick your produce and can it now what I’ve seen You know again, going to the store trying to buy the the cans, the lids, the bands, they call them which is the part that screws on. You can’t get the stuff right now there’s a national shortage, it just doesn’t exist. So throughout the entire United States everywhere you go into a store and you’re lucky to find any canning supplies at all, and the lids are probably one of the hardest things to find. I’ve still seen some jars out there. But you know you get online and a dozen lids and bands used to be a couple bucks are now over $1 a lid which is ridiculous because the price has gone up but you know 100 times what it normally should be. It’s just crazy. And and it’s because during this pandemic and all this craziness that is going on in society today. People have started to Have these gardens, and they’re growing their own fruits and vegetables. And they’re going to do something with it. You know, it’s it’s fun, it’s all fun and games when you’re growing it, but you, you can’t eat it all at once. because inevitably, you know, you don’t get one cucumber a week, you get, you know, four or five in a day are all ready, or your tomatoes when the tomatoes come in, boy they come in. And that’s why you’re usually canning tomatoes in the fall. That’s where everybody kind of ramps up and starts doing it. Which makes it you know, it’s kind of the canning season has now started mid to late August and then it gets really crazy into September and then and then you’re pretty much done with your gardens at that point. So if you’re thinking about canning, good luck finding anything out there to do it with. I personally experienced the problem of finding supplies, because I decided this year that I wanted to cancel them Tomatoes inspired by my father, who is taking canning over the last year. He started really last year the year before. canning everything from meats to fruits and vegetables, he kind of went really overboard and really got into it quite a bit and has been canning lots of different things. Now, the only thing I’ve ever personally canned in my life is tomatoes, tomato sauce. And in the recipe, not that there is one but the directions that I follow were the directions that my grandfather gave me. That him and my grandmother used to use and that is the the recipe that I use or the formula that I use. Currently right now. It was really interesting to talk to my dad about it because you The next week or two, his sister my aunt is coming over to the house at tell my dad can and they’re going to do something like six bushels of tomatoes. Now, bushels of tomatoes are you’re going to get about 24 jars per bushel. So they’re really jumping in with both feet. And it’s quite a bit of work to, to cam that many tomatoes you gotta you know, you got to cut them up you got to call them out and you put them either hand smush them and get separate the seeds and the pulp from the in the skins from the the juice. But doing that many usually use a machine that does it. It’s kind of like a like a pasta machine. It’s got this thing in it that just basically basically smashes and squishes out all the grape juice and gets you the liquid that you need. So you can cook it down and then put it into jars and there’s a whole process behind it. The podcast is The process of how to can but more than nostalgia and how people are rediscovering it. So I, because I think my dad was getting back into it, it was back in my head more and realizing that you go to the grocery store and still to this day you go in and there’s certain things that just aren’t on the shelf. Until very recently, our local grocery store you couldn’t still find yeast to make bread and bread got really popular during the pandemic for people to make as well. If you could find the yeast to do it, and early on, even the sugar and or the flower was getting a bit hit mess, trying to find it. So I think people have really embraced the idea of making their own food, preserving their own food and being in control of their own destiny which I think is kind of polls on those nostalgic heartstrings for a lot of people. And on the other side of it, it’s just being prepared and having something that you want in your home or in your cupboard that that you may not be able to get a hold of, in worst case scenario, as opposed to just going down to the grocery store and honest to god truth, it’s a lot cheaper. So once you buy the glass, and you buy all the stuff and you go out and buy the tomatoes, and by the time you’re done doing it, you’re still probably the first time you do it. When you buy all this stuff. You’re about what it would cost to go out and buy a $3 jar of tomato sauce that’s on the shelf. After that, you know you’re under your under probably $1 a jar so so it can be very cost effective and save you a lot of money. If you do your own canning, especially more expensive fruits and stuff if you’re making jams, and jellies but I found it really interesting that people were going back to this. For me, watching my dad do it over the last couple of years just kind of really sparked this idea that was in the back of my head about my grandparents, them doing it more out of necessity back then then convenience and doing it myself. Now the last time I can was over 20 years ago, I would guess and I did a small batch of tomatoes. I think it was probably a dozen jars of tomatoes sauce that I made in my wife and I enjoyed that throughout the winter. And that was the last time that I did it. And never much thought about it after that life kind of took over. You know, you start working, getting that job. You know, you kind of lose track or touch with it and every year during canning season I would talk to my grandfather and he talked about setting everything up in the kitchen and for them. It was a huge production. With the the machine that would again, separate the pulp and the skins and the seeds from the grapes. And in days upon days and most of the old Italians, at least where I grew up, they all had another kitchen down on the garb in the basement or in the garage, but normally it was in the basement. So on the East Coast, everybody had a basement so there was a whole nother cooking area in the basement where they would do most of their canning. So they didn’t totally destroy their kitchen upstairs. At least while they were doing it, because I’ll tell you, I spent eight hours doing it yesterday, myself and I spent another hour cleaning up so that my wife didn’t crucify me. When she got home, I took the day off and canned tomatoes and between the splattering and the tomato juice everywhere it was a it was a success, but it’s a messy endeavor for sure. So With the with the idea that being self sustaining and really thinking about my grandparents I spent really most of the day yesterday kind of reflecting on on my grandmother and my grandfather and and that my dad is now doing it and that he’ll be next week with his sister canning and kind of reconnecting with his youth. And he was telling me a story about remembering being a kid. And when it was time to go pick a pick the tomatoes for canning for them, they didn’t have a big backyard. So they would go to the local farmer on the outskirts of town and go pick your own tomatoes kind of a you pick thing back in the day. Back then we’re talking you know, 60 years ago. 50 years ago, and they would you remember getting in the station wagon and how miserable they were because of course, that would be miserable for kids. So they get in the car, they drive out. And they have to pick these tomatoes and then walk them to the end of the rows and dump them in the baskets and the boxes. And he remembers all the fruit flies in the car when they were driving home and how hot and miserable he was. He was telling me this crazy story when he was a little kid and how much he hated when it was time to go pick tomatoes. Now of course just like any kid, sure I get it. I think I would be miserable too. And remember many times being miserable, having to do things that my my parents made me do. So with that being said, you know, he’s kind of harkening back on those memories and also kind of trying to reconnect, you know, with his heritage and his roots and what he remembers and his memories of his mother primarily being in the kitchen. You know, I spent all day in the kitchen yesterday. And we have a small table and two chairs in our kitchen. And, and sitting in there, you know, cutting up the tomatoes and, and just kind of reconnecting with the memories of my grandmother and grandfather. You know, doing those things. You know, it kind of gives you a nice almost a secure, safe feeling. And especially nowadays where we’re also tense can because of if it’s not politics, it’s pandemics if it’s not pandemics, its economy if it’s not economy, it’s, you know, whatever you name it. We kind of always have this underlying stress and to be able to kind of cocoon yourself for the day and just kind of immerse yourself in those memories and, and something that makes you feel good was really helpful for me personally. I think that’s why I’m having this discussion today is I kind of thought about it all night last night was like, this is really, you know, this really feels good. This really helps. This is really interesting. So I think for a lot of people, if it’s not canning, it’s, it’s whatever that memory is baking for a lot of people that Remember, you know, their mother or their grandmother baking and helping with that. And just spending that time kind of trying to reconnect with those things that made you feel good or feel safe, I guess, as a kid. And so fast forward 20 years earlier. Now today, I’m canning so I can’t a bunch of tomatoes, and I got that all done. And I got to go through that experience again. And and it was just just kind of that visceral feel being connected in tomatoes coming from a farmer or something. Different, or from your own garden. so different from what you buy in the grocery store the flavor, the smell, the smell alone, it just has this deeper, more real smell and flavor to it. And the taste is the same way, way more intense. It’s just not grown commercially, you know, either hydroponically or however they do it. And it’s a huge difference in flavor. And that’s the other thing. stuff coming out of your own garden or from your local farmer. Huge difference in flavor. I mean, corn is the same way roadside corn stands corn on the cob stands and in rural America, I’ll tell you what, you can’t find better sweet corn than you can roadside stands or in your own garden, and some pretty amazing stuff. So and I found it really interesting about this whole national shortage. It’s not because There’s no you know, the people that make the glass can’t make the glass or the people that can’t make this part can’t make this part. It’s literally because so many people all at once decided this year that they were going to can based on the fact that they all started these gardens and they’re trying to be more self sufficient, trying to save a little money where they can, etc, etc. And I found that really fascinating. I find it also really fascinating that there’s still tons of stuff you can’t find in the grocery stores or that’s missing off the shelves continually. And it’s always kind of shifting and changing. Right now, for anybody who’s listening. If you’re a big fan of pepperoni, you better go by pepperoni. Not that I’m feeding into the hysteria, but yes, some crazy pepperoni shortage because of I don’t know, because who knows why? because they want to have a shortage, I guess. And now it’s getting hard to find pepperoni on the shelves, and grocery stores and restaurants. And can you imagine pizza joints? They can’t get ahold of pepperoni. Oh my gosh. I mean talk about anarchy in the streets. Could you imagine calling your local pizza joint for delivery and they don’t have a pepperoni pizza for you. People lose their freakin minds. I mean, Good Lord, you can’t be at a pepperoni. And that would be like telling people that they can’t buy alcohol anymore and that we’re out. they’d lose their minds. You know you think people are upset now. Start taking away those kinds of things and boy, they’d go nuts. And also the last two weeks and I’m totally shift gears here now. But it kind of played into the whole thing. And I and this is where it gets really interesting about being in your mid to late 40s. And it’s it’s the democrats a week ago had their their big convention and other republicans this week are having their Big convention because we’re obviously in in election season, you know, the, for the election for the president is in November, etc, etc. And it’s just starting up just ramping up big time now, you know, Republican, Democrat, independent. Yep. It’s all happening. And I remember being a kid, this kind of anxiety during these elections. And I think it was because I just didn’t understand what was going on being young. And being back. The first president, I remember being being elected into office was Reagan, Ronald Reagan. And when I was born, I believe it was Jimmy Carter, or Jimmy Carter was there. And then Ronald Reagan. And I really remember the Ronald Reagan era. I guess more that was my first kind of memory of politics or the President being on my little kid radar. But during these elections, I always remember having this anxiety about it. And I think a lot of it had to do not understanding, but also just because of the rhetoric and the commercials and the TV and what’s in the paper and everybody’s attacking each other. And that’s been going on forever. And in different ways. Now it’s a, it’s, it can be pretty rough, for sure, no doubt. And over the last, probably 10 years, they’ve really ratcheted that up. And nobody can argue that the last couple years, it’s really ratcheted up. And as a kid, that just that anxiety and not understanding and being worried that something’s going to happen now, in my experience, and I’m talking in very general terms here, folks. After the election, nothing happens. Not in not in the literal sense of nothing happens, but In the sense that the world doesn’t end, there’s no major change in whatever. And life just kind of continues on. And I noticed that after every election, it didn’t mean that the anxiety went away. And even as an adult, the anxiety was far different. But still there. Now, the last election was Donald Trump won that election and became president. And that was very controversial for many different reasons. None that I’m going to necessarily get into but it was the first time that a kind of the salt of the earth Middle America, average person president was elected in a way and the guy just talks very common and yes, for all his faults in his tweeting, and all that craziness that the man does was was a very different was a very large departure from what we’re used to as the president, which is more of a proper, carefully worded person who doesn’t necessarily get down in the mud or talk normal, like they would around their own kitchen table or with their buddies in the backyard, that that’s kind of Donald Trump all the time. And like him or hate him, he is definitely like that every moment of the day. Like it or hate it. And and so now election season, so that anxiety is starting again, this is the first time and I believe again, now I’m doing it to myself again, at 47 years old that seriously, I have this anxiety over a presidential election every year that I’ve been on this planet, that there’s been a presidential election, I get an anxiety what’s going to happen What’s gonna happen and every year or every election, nothing happens. And everybody says, this year, oh my gosh, this year, it’s you know, each side, they’re starting to talk now the other gets elected, they’re gonna, you know, the country is going to end it’s going to, you know, work, it’s going to be destroyed where you can never go back above blah, blah, blah, everybody’s, you know, pulling their corners, you know about what is gonna happen or not happen. And the reality is that more often than not, nothing happens, right? I mean, we were just talking about that, that it just moves on. The next day happens, the sun comes up, there’s a new president, and we kind of all keep moving on with our lives. But here I am, again, with this anxiety. You know, what, if something does happen, what if you know what’s gonna happen, you know, in the unknown, and that is building with people and I’ve noticed it, not specifically maybe because of politics, I think it’s part of it. So we have this, this, these many things pulling at us right now and being kind of an Xer a Gen X are kind of in the middle of this, you know, I’m you know, I’m working age still. You know, I got a lot riding on my business, you know, I’m not at retirement age, I’m not just starting now. And I’m literally right in the middle of the trenches right now. And so I’m worried about my business, so you know, the economic end of it. And then we got this pandemic happening. And now we have the rhetoric from the political season happening. And we’re noticing people in our business because we’re in the retail business, their fuses are getting short, and their entitlement is getting long. So people are kind of going crazy. all age groups. So you know, we have all these rules because of the pandemic, you know, With how people can come into our business and interface with us and react with us, and, and people have lost their minds, I think, I don’t know if it’s because it’s been a hot summer in New York, and people are just kind of going crazy, or what the deal is, but we have this this kind of tension that’s just kind of building and growing, that we’ve noticed with our customers. And it’s really, I look at it as very fascinating because I don’t take offense to it. I’m in the retail business every once in a while you get a jerk, and you just kind of ride through it. And you try to minimize the damage so to speak the best you can and move on with your life. Easier said than done. If you’ve You know, you’re pulling a nine hour shift and somebody comes in at the end of that and dances on your last nerve. Well, you know, shit happens. And and sometimes you might not have And all that the best way that you should, but we really need, people really need to take a step back and take a deep breath and, and treat people the way they want to be treated because I know nobody wants to be treated like shit. And if you’re acting a fool and acting a jerk, either if you’re showing off or your wife or your girlfriend or your buddies when you walk in, because you don’t want to wear a mask, because that seems to be the main topic these days. Or whatever the deal is, you’re not doing yourself or anybody else any favors, you know, the staff member that’s been working a full shift or you yourself that’s been, you know, deciding that today’s the day to be a jerk head. So, so what I say is, you know, live and let live, be kind to people for the love of God, please. I know I’ve used that term. Quite a bit, the love of for the love of God, but it really is, you know, you want to be treated, everybody wants to be treated well nobody wants to be treated bad. So try this, try to keep that frickin in mind when you’re dealing with people. And, and especially now with all this stress is trying to harken back to some of those things that are comfortable and feel good about you. So for me, canning yesterday was one of those things just kind of helped pull me back to, to happier times, younger days being a kid. And and that’s important, and it helps kind of reground you and to take a little bit of time each day, or however often you need to do it to keep that grounding I think is really important. You know if that’s yoga, or if that’s meditating or if that’s just taking a deep breath and watching the sunset, You got to do what you got to do to keep yourself healthy and grounded and kind of centered and and don’t forget about that especially during this really toxic season. Elections are toxic that get people riled up and usually not in a good way it’s usually being negative for the other person not positive for who you believe in. And, and just try to remember that those people on the other side of that aisle or are your friends and your neighbors and you got to be compassionate and you got to stay open minded and and again, keeping that importance of balance. Coming back taking a deep breath, getting grounded, however you need to do it for me yesterday again, canning tomatoes like my grandma and grandpa used to do. For you, it might be going out for a run or you know, baking a loaf of bread, whatever it is. Just try to remember to do those kinds of things. And and keep yourself healthy. Keep yourself grounded and, and who you are and what you need to do every day. And remember that there’s people around you suffering horribly. And we’re all out of whack and have been for six months, basically now. And we’re just trying to, you know, pick up the pieces and move on with our lives here. And it’s beenit’s been a long, six months, so to speak. So, remember, you know, stay positive, do what you got to do. reconnect with your youth, reconnect with what’s important. And, and really try to keep that and hold on to it the best that you can. remember to try to have a little bit of fun in between it all and don’t watch politics every day and try to stay away from the news. For too much every day. We all get roped into that and especially at my age, because you’re tying into these, you know, what’s the economy doing today and what’s happening out there that’s gonna affect tourism or, or, or the all these kinds of bits and pieces that have to do with my business and success. You got to minimize that stuff and you got to not spend all your time watching, you know, CNN or Fox News or whatever it is that you’re watching and, and try to step away from that. I think it’s important to stay informed. I think it’s unhealthy to become obsessed every day with watching that, that stuff and especially cable news is or your social media feeds. Especially if you lean a certain political direction more than the other, you’re going to get only what you know, all these algorithms get pushing, keep pushing your way. So you know you get on Facebook and political ads and this and that is going to come up and it’s going to align with your general beliefs. You know, by the magic of the internet and things you’ve clicked on forever, determine what’s going to pop up there and there and happens. And just remember that there’s two sides to every story and it’s important to stay grounded. Take time to smell the roses. You know, smile and enjoy what’s around you. And just remember that, you know, life’s too short. You know, before you know it, you go from, you know, taping, playing cards to your BMX bike. So it sounds like a motorcycle and you know, your biggest problem in the world is how big that jump you’re going to make off the curb is for your bike to mortgage payments and kids. And it happens way too fast. So it’s important to try to stay grounded and stay connected to the things you love and the people that you love and the memories that are going to be healthy. Keeping you moving forward. I hope you have a wonderful day. You guys and I look forward to talking to you again next week. This is Tony with the jennex perspective. You guys enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks for listening to the Gen X perspective with Tony Randazzo, where we see things a bit differently. Let’s get social. Find us on Facebook by searching Gen X perspective, Twitter at Gen X underscore podcast and on Instagram at Gen X perspective you can also find us online at Gen X perspective comm and reach out to Tony directly at Tony at Gen X perspective calm to maybe you can talk strategy on how to beat Super Mario Brothers three. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Gen X perspective wherever you get your podcast. Thanks for listening