WFP: Food in the new year
I find myself here, Wednesday again, and feeling less than inspired. I suppose it’s to be expected. Jeff is working two part time jobs now, I’m busy with my new job and taking care of these two kids and the house, and food just… happens. Soon my sister and her two kids will be here (this weekend), and I’m guessing that food will have to be a bit more simple and organized to work for us. Although I don’t feel that creative, I do find that I frequently make really surprisingly delicious meals out of the bare bones of my fridge and pantry. I make it work. I don’t have a specific vision for what we’ll eat, and so I think it opens me up to new things. I’m sure this will happen over the next few months, and it’ll be nice to have my sister around to help with it all. Jeff is definitely helpful when I need him to be, but he tends to go the meat and potatoes route most of the time. Delicious, but just not an every night affair. So, I’m thinking we may be busting out my More With Less cookbook a bit more often, and possibly making certain food nights- for example a "soup night" or a "roast night" or what have you. I think a new kitchen chalkboard may be in order, although I’m not sure where that would fit. I’ll make it fit! I’ve always wanted a kitchen chalkboard… I’ll keep you all posted on what kinds of changes we experience- suddenly feeding 6 people rather than 3 (and soon to be 7 people- little Asa will be nibbling soon enough!) is bound to have its challenges, but ultimately I think it will be a good thing for everyone. I’m even hoping that we save some money, collaborating and whatnot.
Shamefully, this is the only food picture I have from the holiday. It’s Jeff’s lovely spinach, mushroom, and bacon quiche. He made four different quiches all together for two different events, and I was so grateful. I often feel just a little overwhelmed having to make food for all the different gatherings, and he was really helpful this year.
The new year is also upon us, and I’m thinking about how to keep on this path. Our journey with food is far from over, and I’m going to challenge myself to think about ways that I can be better over the next year. Some of my ideas are, for instance, whittling away at our non-local food stuff, and researching more locally sourced stuff. Also getting back into baking our own bread with local grain. I also plan to learn how to hunt this fall… Mostly I want to learn. With this new job I feel like I’m a sponge for information, and I have a great excuse to tap on the doors of those with more experience than I do and just soak up that knowledge. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year! I feel proud of what we’ve done this year- not just because of what we accomplished, but because we’re works in progress. We took chances, we were willing to fumble and learn from our mistakes, and we had a lot of fun doing it. I look around today and I’m that much further than I was last year. I hope that each year I can see a small measure of growth. What about you? What are hoping to do in the next year, food-wise? What have you done that you’re proud of? Nothing is too small (or too big!). Chime in- I want to know what your plans are or what you’ve learned. 🙂
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My plan is really simple:try to make sure Eilidh eats less pre-packaged/sweet stuff, even if it is organic. I find it really frustrating lately, because she will tell me “hungry” over and over, but refuse actual food. She’ll cry, and ask for things like dried coconut, yogurt raisins, cheddar bunny crackers…and only after I’ve told her ‘no’ multiple times, and she’s had a little mini-tantrum, will she eventually, maybe, eat her meal. It’s easy when I’m so tired to just give in, or grab a quick snack for her,(well, when we have those things in the house, which isn’t all the time) but it’s got to change. I’m going to try to cook up lots of lentils, oats, rice, soups, etc, enough for a few meals ahead, because my energy levels are quite often too low to bother when it gets to be supper time.
Something my Mom starting doing when I was a teenager was making a large pot of soup every week or so. She’d store it in serving size containers in the fridge, and whenever we were hungry, we’d simply warm up some soup. Soup ingredients can change based on what is available seasonally, and it usually doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make – just a good recipe and an hour or so of your time. You could probably do that with sandwiches as well. If you know you’re going to be busy for a few days, its a wonderful solution.
Brett and I were just talking about learning to hunt. I expressed the idea to him the other day, and he seemed to be intrigued by it… but how does one “learn” to hunt, without having to buy all the expensive equipment. And what is a more ecological way of hunting, deer in particular, bow and arrow??
Where do you plan to get local grain? There was a mill in my parent’s town, but I’m pretty sure they don’t mill edible grains anymore, hmm.
One thing that I’m really excited about is finally convincing Brett that we can get a chest freezer so we can buy bulk meat, I made him see that even though it’s a large chunk of money up front it really is more cost effective. Plus showing him some of your posts and other sources online I’ve made him see the benefits of an entire quarter of an animal– all the things we can do with ALL of the parts…etc.
I think it would be fun to have a group of friends in town, and each week (every other week? maybe even once a month) dinner is hosted at someone’s house, a large meal is prepared collectively, a nice sit down meal and a visit with friends, and then left overs for everyone to take home. It would be fun… a Dinner Club.
I had a lot of fun learning how to incorporate beans and lentils into our meals on a regular basis. Also, I think I’ve done better this year than last at storing vegetables and using what I stored. My other goalt his past year was reducing the amount of left-overs that end up going to waste.
Over this next year I want to really reduce the amount of milk (and cheese) and eggs we use here. I would love to be able to raise chickens, but that’s not allowed here. Still, I think about it and think about how many chickens we would need to be able to continue using the insane amount of eggs we use, so in preparation for the day when I can raise chickens I want to start cutting down on eggs now, and it just doesn’t seem right to me to be using now what we could never use if we were raising our own.
Well, this year, we learned a lot and are proud of a lot too. I have been steadily making our own sourdough bread, crackers, and pizza crust. We have a deer and some waterfowl and lots of local berries in the freezer, and used every speck of our awesome CSA share (a long season…mid-May through December 1). We have locally grown organic storage veg in the root cellar to last at least another couple of months (potatoes, onions, beets, garlic), and I canned (for the first time) applesauce, stock and dilly beans. We’ve moved (for the first time) to eating more seasonally (but could still do better with the local/seasonal goal).
Next year, our plans are ambitious…make our first veggie garden and preserve our harvest as much as we can! I want to do loads of tomatoes, potatoes, beets, greens and beans. I want to do water kefir, and keep us on our homemade kombucha, and yogurt. I’d like to add more lacto-fermented foods (sauerkraut, particularly). We are going to make a superhuman effort to pick as many wild berries and apples as we can lay our hands on…free, delicious and nutritious.
Sadly, there isn’t a local source of real milk that I have discovered, but that would be a goal too. We can get unhomogenzied dairy from Minnesota, but it’s not reliable at our co-op, so that’s that.
The other thing we plan for the upcoming year is getting rid of as much plastic use as we can, especially for our food storage. I use all glass containers for our bulk foods, oils and peanut butter (lugging jars to the co-op), and want to make more fabric produce bags/bread bags/sandwich wraps and such.
Whew! Sounds ambitious written down, eh? And that’s just the food! 🙂
Best wishes for the upcoming changes and learning that you will do in 2011! Namaste.
That quiche looks delicious! I love quiche and haven’t made one in ages–perhaps I should work one into my menu soon.
I was pleased this year because I did a much better job of not letting the produce from my CSA share go to waste. I mainly accomplished this by storing more of it, so I now have lots of corn, cabbage, beets, etc in my freezer ready to be used over the winter. Another goal of mine was to start making my own bread. I didn’t do this consistently (I got especially sidetracked when things got crazy with moving), but I’m getting back into the swing of it now, and my results are gradually improving… I was also happy to finally try canning for the first time, with a small test batch of peaches that I canned in August–doing more canning is one of my goals for the coming year, but that’s going to necessitate buying some equipment (mostly a deeper pot, since the deepest one I have was barely deep enough for the small jars I used).
This year I plan to join a CSA, use my cookbooks more, plan my meals better, and generally try to eat better. I also plan to get back to exercising regularly the way I was before my vacation. It seems like a lot to commit to doing, but most of it feeds on each other (ha ha) and is also something I’ve accomplished before and simply gotten out of habit. So I’m hoping for better success this time around.
We had (and used the products from) our raised bed garden! It wasn’t much and we didn’t store very much, but it made me happy to see everything growing and to expose Ben to gardening. We also grew herbs and successfully transplanted most of them inside for use during the winter. It has been so amazing to have green, growing things inside!
I’m hoping to keep a more organized meal plan in 2011, to make use of the machines that we’ve got (more breadmaker!) and create meals from the ground up. Also looking into finding a freecycled freezer or something so we can get local meats at a good price and take advantage of all that goodness. 🙂