Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the Homesteading Front

 Although there's sauerkraut fermenting in the kitchen and chickens scratching out back, not much else is going on at our wee little homestead. Canning has come to an abrupt halt and I've become stingy with putting jam on my toast because I don't want to run out of preserves. Silly, I realize. There are more jars of jam than we should rationally consume in one year, but they seem so precious. I feel like that about the veggies we grow, too. In fact, I still have about a cup's worth of black-eyed peas we grew in Austin that I can't seem to cook up. I think about the time and energy it took to grow them and to simply devour them doesn't do those little legumes justice.

When cooking homegrown veggies I'm conscious of eating every last bite but, the strange thing is,  I rarely feel this way about food that we didn't grow or put up ourselves. While we limit food waste and compost what we can, I don't feel the need to eat every last grain of rice, every last bite of mashed potato or lick the plate clean. I do savor every bite and enjoy the pleasure of eating but without the same elevated feeling as when I've grown it myself.  I'm grateful for the work of the farmers who grow this food for us and I think I need to give it the same reverence as I would my homegrown stuff.

In other homesteading news, it's been gray and overcast for a week, which is a great time for bread baking! So far this week I've made whole wheat pita and pizza. The pita was a great addition to a Greek-inspired menu that included slow-cooked lamb from our CSA, orzo, spinach and green bean Fashoulakia.  The pizza had roasted carnival squash, caramelized onions, walnuts and parm. cheese. Garlicky kale and pickled beets rounded out the meal. Tomorrow I'm going to try my hand at homemade pumpkin pie using a real pie pumpkin and crust from scratch. Keep your fingers crossed!

I picked up Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Hertzberg & Francois) from the library and can't wait to get some big batches of dough going so we can have homemade bread multiple times a week. I want to get that routine down because my work/class schedule from March-May is totally nuts and we'll need some good food routines in place if I want to cook.

March-May is also planting time around these parts. I hope I can carve out some time between work and classes to really get our garden going for spring. I'm tired of the bare yard--the tufts of vetch and winter wheat are a nice touch, but I would love some veggies!! Patience, I know. And planning--my downfall. I'm notorious for spending months on a plan and then, at the last minute, throwing the plan out the window for something to be happening now. I like results. Usually this ends up in a half-baked attempt and then having to redo it later. (i.e. the raised beds in the parkway garden in Austin that I dug in 100+ degree heat and needed to rebuild a month later. Not my finest moment.)

Lane's been doing his fair share of homesteading projects, too. He's been putting the sewing machine to work mending clothes and sewing curtains for our station wagon--our winter "camper." He's also finished our fence, built a ton of shelves, worked on the cars and preparing for our wood stove chimney installation.

So, I guess things on the home front haven't been that quiet after all.  Many of these things have become such a part of our everyday lives that they don't seem so special or out of the ordinary. If you had asked us 4 years ago while living the urban life in Portland what we'd be doing now, living in Albuquerque with 2 chickens and a 900 square foot house would probably not have been our answer. But, here we are enjoying our little life in the North Valley. We hope life is good for you, too.

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