A Deeper Connection (and Zucchini Relish)

The eight of us girls go back forty to fifty years. We have a deeper connection than we’d have with an ordinary friend. We are first cousins.

Last week we came together, at my house, for a quick luncheon. Although the food was tasty, what we really savored was our connection as cousins. We enjoyed catching up with each other, but our main focus of conversation ended up being our Auntie, who is approaching 90 years of age, and who is in need of extra care at this time in her life.

Why is this aunt so special? She is the oldest sibling to all of our parents. She never married, but she devoted her life to taking care of her parents and loving on her nieces and nephews. She never missed a birthday. She truly loved us and practiced hospitality every day of her life.

Now it is our turn to give of ourselves, for her benefit.
As I left her room recently, my Auntie blew me a kiss with her toothless smile, and I was reminded of the sweetness and love that has flown from a long life well lived. I was reminded of how I am to reach out, not only to the lovely in life, but to the homeless and loveless in their plight as well.

The deep connection we 8 girls felt at that afternoon luncheon was more than chit-chat. The lesson was before us that giving is not always easy and it takes sacrifice, but it’s worth it in the end.

We sure love our Auntie Lillian!
My first memory of a large garden while growing up was my Grandmother’s. Auntie Lillian didn’t do much with planting or harvesting, while living on the farm, as her gift was taking care of the farmhouse and cooking. Grandma would bring in king-sized zucchini; Aunt Lillian would cook it up!

One of our traditions in our home is to take those overly large zucchini and make “Zucchini Relish.” It’s a delicious treat on sandwiches, used for a dip (mixed with cream cheese), or I will give a small jar as a “hostess gift,” during canning season.

10 cups grated zucchini
4 cups grated onion
5 T salt
Cover with water. Let stand over night.

Next day chop up:
2 green pepper
2 small jars pimentos

2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. each: nutmeg, tumeric, dry mustard, cornstarch
½ tsp black pepper

Drain the zucchini mixture. Add to the brine, along with the peppers and pimentos.

Boil; Simmer for 30 minutes.

Jar and can for 10 minutes.

If you need canning tips, go HERE.
If you want another great zucchini recipe, go HERE for my zucchini noodles!
(TOP PHOTO: me and my sisters, Di and Linda:, and my cousins Pam, Denise, Paulette, Terri and Peggy. Aunt Lillian photo taken by cousin David Andrews))


ValleyGirl said...

You make such wonderful observations about things and people in your life! I'm always encouraged and uplifted after reading your tributes and thoughts.

And I cannot thank you enough for posting this relish recipe either!!! My husband and daughters brought in 5 MASSIVE zucchinis last night and they're sitting on my kitchen counter, taking up a LOT of space, and I was wondering what the heck I was going to do with it all! (I still have some shredded zucchini in the freezer from last year's crop!) I will definitely have to try your relish recipe.

Jen said...

It is so wonderful that you have a close bond with your extended family. Without family our lives would be so empty. You always have such wonderful thoughts to share on the subject of family and I appreciate it so much.

The zucchini relish sounds divine. I am going to my mother's to help her clean out her garden this week. Now I have something wonderful to make with the abundance of zucchini she has!

Belle-ah said...

What a wonderful family you must all be! That is so rare in today's world.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hey, Sandy, what a wonderful thing to do with your cousins. We all seem to lose touch with each other & I know my cousins & I don't stay in touch enough. So good that you made a point to do that & to honor your sweet old Aunt.


Nadine said...

What a great picture of all your cousins. Your Auntie is adorable. Seems like hospitality goes back a long ways in your family. How sweet that you pass it on to your girls.

RealEstateGirl said...


What a sweet tribute to your aunt and what a great looking group of girls! Y'all have such great smiles! It's obvious there is alot of love and good times shared between you all.

Great post!


ellen b said...

What a blessings cousins are and continued blessings on your dear Auntie.

Joy said...

Oh Sandy, thank-you for this recipe! My mom-in-law just gave me some huge zukes that I did not know what to do with!


Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

All of you ladies are just beaming and beautiful. I was never fortuate enough to grow up around any extended family, though I have several cousins. You're truly blessed to have all of these family members be a part of your life.

Melissa R. Garrett said...

Oh, the relish literally had my tummy rumbling. I *love* relish of any kind. Mmmm . . .

How wonderful that you have so many cousins and that you are all able to get together. I haven't seen my cousins in close to a decade :-0

GiBee said...

I've been wondering what to do with all the zucchini I keep getting from friends and family! I'll have to try out both recipes!

Org Junkie said...

Wow, eight girl cousins all close in age and able to all get together for lunch...that is so very very special!

justabeachkat said...

Beautiful post and photo! Families are so important. You can see the love in yours.


Tammy said...

I absolutely loved this...seeing all of you girl cousins get together and enjoy your time...and then to know you were also there to talk about ways you could help your aunt...that just made me smile from the heart.
Your aunt is lovely, too.

And zucchini relish is something I am not familiar with at all...but know if I were ever blessed enough to be your cousin and at your house for a party, I would certainly love to try some! ;)


Katie said...

Honestly, I never get tired of photos of beautiful home canned goods and of course families too (even when they're not my own).

Lynn said...

What a lucky woman your aunt is! The love she gave to all has obviously come back to her. I am sure she gave it unselfishly and obviously has taught all you beautiful girls the same lesson.

Joy said...

I made this recipe and it is FABULOUS!!!