Friday, December 26, 2008

I was inspired by 2 things, recently - this gorgeous shot of a really well-stocked farm pantry, and this amazing list of home-canned goods (scroll down and look on the right-hand side of the screen).

In the past year or so, we've gone to eating maybe 75 to 80 percent local foods in my house, for 2 reasons. 1) I got divorced, and the income coming into my household dropped, well, let's just say a really staggering amount. I had to learn how to get by on much, much less, and VERY quickly, and 2) it just really seemed like the right thing to do, for environmental and social reasons.

I consider myself VERY lucky to have learned an absolute TON in 4-H, as a youngster. I learned to cook, make candy, bake bread, sew, and freeze and can foods. In short, actual useful life skills that they don't really teach you in school (at least, not very well - certainly not at my high school).

So it's been interesting to me to see how my buying, cooking, and eating of food has changed REALLY drastically since "going local".My food pantry no longer holds pre-pacakged commercial soups, breakfast bars, cookies, chips, or cereal. Instead, this is it: an astounding collection of fantastic homemade jams (my friends are generous to me!), yeast, certo, homemade fruitcakes, comb honey. A few leftover organic noodles and some sort of funky pudding mix are languishing in there - remnants of a former lifestyle.I keep bulk bins of raw sugar and locally-produced white and wheat flours, mostly for breadmaking.My spice cupboard is VERY well stocked. Good, fresh, and ample spices are absolutely the key to good cooking, I think, especially vegetarian cooking (I've been veggie since I was 13 years old).There are many things I have to learn, and many things I hope to have soemday - a small cold frame, and root cellar are among them. For now, I keep winter squashes in our unheated basement. (Tori the cat watches over them. I have 8 cats, and every single one of them goes nuts when I cook squash or sweet potatoes. They love them!!!).
My canning cupboard is pretty woeful this year. Quite a few jams (most of which are gone - given as holiday gifts), some tomato soup and peaches and fruit and herb syrups, and quite a bit of apple pie filling, but no beans or pickles or tomatoes or salsa - mostly due to a really horrid year in the garden. I also always have a nice selection of dried beans, and a few baking staples: fair trade cocoa and chocolate, mostly.Here's a load of cordials, infusing. Not exactly necessary to life, sure, but damn fun nonetheless. From left to right - key limes in rum, pineapple in rum, strawberry and lemon balm in vodka, black raspberry in vodka.
Having ample freezer space is KEY to eating local year-round, I think. I was sooooo lucky to find this upright, full-sized, nearly new, very very clean freezer for FREE on craig's list. Isn't that fantastic??? It is chock-full of pesto (LOTS of pesto), tomatoes, corn, roasted tomatoes, roasted root veggies, veggie "bits" (ends, peels, middles, etc) for making veggie stock, herbed butters, local goat cheese, and astounding quantities of white peaches, applesauce, black raspberries, red raspberries and grape juice (it was a fantastic year for fruit).Last but not least, we have the meat freezer and the coffee roaster. What kind of vegetarian has a meat freezer, you ask? The kind that lives with 11 carnivores (1 human, 8 cats, and 2 very large dogs). I get bones from the butcher whenever possible, for my canines (they LOVE them!) and also try to get bulk inexpensive meats for my pets as well.

The coffee roaster is divine. If you are at all interested in good coffee, I suggest you get one just like it. It's relatively inexpensive and WILL pay for itself pretty quickly - when you buy your own green beans, you can get organic/fair trade bulk beans for around $5 a lb, shipped - which is much cheaper than the ten and twelve dollars a pound I used to pay.Plus this is far, far fresher! it takes about 20 minutes to roast 1/3 lb of beans, and doesn't make too much noise, or smoke.

So, that is what "eating local" looks like at my house.


Blogger Shadows of the goddess designs said...

That is one awesome eating local !!!!!!! This spring i am gonna finish fence down the one side of yard and get a bigger dog of some sort to keep coons and possums and rabbits out of the garden. I didnt get enough to can stuff with. I did fill the freezere full out of what little the critters left me they didnt eat .

5:41 PM  
Blogger girlwithasword said...

You are a gardening maniac!! :) (in a good way!) We're lucky we don't have too many problems with small critters. Our large critters (dogs) take care of that I think. Not that they'd be ambitious enough to actually hunt or anything - oh no. I think there mere presence keeps the coons etc. away. Oh well, they gotta be good for something I guess!

11:11 AM  
Blogger clink said...

You go girl!!! You are so right -- it is healthier and cheaper and oh so much better!

I'm doing a presentation 1/17 at the Freight House Farmers market on eating local. The public has this concept that farmer's markets are only for tomatoes! Gotta change that!

I'm glad my little list inspired you. You are totally on the right track. I'd show you pics of my freezer but I'd be ashamed. Very un-organized and icing over. But its on the list!

We have to think about a coffee roaster.

12:46 PM  
Blogger girlwithasword said...

Clink, I wish I was closer. I'd be all over your classes!!!

Seriously, I cannot recommend the coffee roaster too highly! it was such a good investment. And Burman's Coffe is a FANTASTIC business! Great prices, fantastic ethics, fast and cheap shipping. divine.

1:00 PM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

Great overview of the route to eating local...nicely done. Oh and the strawberry-lemon balm cordial is FABULOUS!

6:30 PM  
Blogger girlwithasword said...

Oh Jill, I'm glad you liked it! I had meant to get many more decanted before christmas. You know what that means....more for our 12 night party! WHEEEE!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Bonne said... those pics are a thing of beauty! Nothing as lovely as home canned. 8 cats huh? lucky you to have so many love sponges. hehehe

4:33 PM  

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