Wednesday food post- food storage progress.

I’m so glad to see those little sprouts in my garden- soon we’ll have more food than we know what to do with… although I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I went to farmers market today and bought some asparagus (which I plan to make some cream of asparagus soup with, for my mid-winter asparagus cravings) and a quart of strawberries. Asparagus and strawberries- signaling the start of the food cycle here. I’ve definitely had a harder time lately planning meals and keeping everything interesting. We’re seeing the bottom of the bucket, that’s for sure.

The longer I do this whole homesteading gig, the more appreciation I have for those who’ve gone before me. Simple things like making bread and starting seeds… well, they aren’t as simple as they look. It’s almost ludicrous that homemaking/farming/etc. got the reputation of being simple and unskilled work. The people who did this before me were incredibly skilled. I like to imagine that they had they had the knowledge and endurance for it in their blood and bones… Sometimes I wonder what they would think of me now- with my flat loaves of bread, my pathetic seedlings that I had to replace, and my very limited knowledge of how to keep myself and my family alive through the winter if I had to… the list goes on and on. To be fair, their knowledge was passed through generations and was practiced day after day, year after year. It was also knowledge that was built upon through the years, and it’s unfortunate that so much of it was tossed out the window with modern life. So it goes with so many things- you lose it by the bucketfuls and gain by the teaspoons. So I’m just doing what I can, teaspoon by teaspoon, and I’m hoping that these things come easier to my children and to theirs and so on. It’ll be so important in the years to come, as this age of convenience falls apart at the very poorly made seams.

I’ve only been storing food on a more serious level for the past two years. The year before last was good, but we ran out of food by December or January, and just continued to shop for food like normal. This past year I think I was far more successful. Here’s a glimpse at our food closet in the basement. It’s bare, but it’s also June! The top picture was taken at the end of the growing season when everything was tucked away. There’s loads of tomatoes, corn, greens, squash, pear/applesauce, soups, salsa, some jam, pickles/pickled beans, pumpkin, and my tomato tapenade. The only thing we didn’t grow was the corn and fruit, but we bought a bunch locally and stored it anyway- it’s better to support local folks and have it in glass jars rather than metal cans (they contain BPAs and other harmful stuff…). We also got some leftover tomatoes from a friend’s garden that we canned, which was really helpful. What’s left now are just a few lone jars of tomatoes, some soup (which we save for days that we just can’t come up with anything), a couple jars of pumpkin and greens and jam, and some apples in the back. You can also see our stash of popcorn has gotten low. 



Of course, I had lots of things also stored in the big freezer. Meats (which we are still working our way through), and lots of green beans and peppers and summer squash and fruit. That is also mostly bare at this point- I still have a couple of quart bags full of shredded zucchini (for breads or pancakes), and a very small amount of frozen fruit left. I’d say we did pretty well! I learned a lot, I know what I need to store more of, and this year I plan to keep really tight records so I can know what our family really eats throughout the year.

Now, we are by no means self-sufficient. Through the winter we consistently bought the following from the store:

  1. Root veggies- potatoes, onions, garlic, and sometimes carrots. This year I hope to be able to store a great deal of our own!
  2. Beans. Our co-op has a source for Michigan grown pinto and black beans, and I’m happy to buy them.
  3. Grains- flour, corn grits, corn tortillas, oats, and small amounts of things like millet and barley and wheat berries- all staples around here. We always bought locally when it was an option.
  4. Dairy. We get a gallon of raw milk a week from our buying cooperative, and then we regularly buy cheese, good milk for making yogurt, sour cream, and sometimes cottage cheese and cream cheese. 
  5. Eggs. We eat lots of eggs. Although come this Saturday we’ll have our own chickens!
  6. Other miscellaneous items that are bought more rarely like oil, vinegar, mushrooms, peanut butter, pasta, nuts, maple syrup, honey, sugar, various dry herbs/spices, etc.

Anyway, I’m learning a lot, and sometimes I feel like my head might implode if I have to come up with another meal. But I’m really proud of how well I’ve done, and it’s getting easier and easier. On the off days where I call Jeff and ask him to either make something or pick something up on his way home, I really can’t feel too bad about it.

An end of the season meal- last night’s dinner. Huevos rancheros. Corn tortillas topped with black beans, eggs, cheese, sauce (made from homegrown tomatoes and jalapeños and spices), raw onion, cilantro, and sour cream. Not bad. Tonight I’ll be making a kale lasagna. 


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