Monday, April 27, 2015

Eating Down the Larder - Week 3 Wrap-Up

I was doing a really good job of writing down our evening meals. I only cook one meal per day. The rest of the day is, kind of, pot-luck for my girls. Deus Ex Machina makes his own breakfast each morning, because he gets up before the rest of us (usually eggs or gluten-free pancakes - and he has used up all of the buckwheat flour and most of the gluten-free baking mix we had). He packs a lunch for work (usually leftovers or some soup from the pantry), and then he's gone for the day.

The girls are all old enough that they can make their own breakfast and lunch (usually it's a "brunch" followed by periodic snacking). We've had some interesting combinations of foods as the accepted breakfast-type foods have been exhausted. This morning, for instance, I had leftover chili. Of course, I'm not a fan of breakfast food, in general (except eggs ... and bacon), and I don't think any particular food should be relegated to a particular time of day. Curried chicken salad is as good at 9:00 AM as it is at 6:00 PM. Just sayin'. My girls are starting to agree.

This week, I forgot to write down a couple of days, and honestly, last Sunday feels like it was forever ago. It's been that kind of week. We picked up our foster puppy last weekend, an event which falls into the realm of what was I thinking?

Last week was also Spring Break, not that that really means anything to us, except that we didn't have co-op. Instead, the girls went to a friend's house for a painting party for decorations for their upcoming prom. Yes, homeschoolers can actually have a prom. The friend lives more than an hour's drive from here.

So, I drove them up, and I came home, and the next day, I drove back and came home. It was over five hours of driving. That's a lot of driving, especially for someone who hates to drive, and I was thinking, during those long, long hours winding through the mountains, that I love the scenery, and I love the ruralness, and I dream, often, of having a little piece of land up ... somewhere. And then, when we arrived at the beautiful house on a hill above a lake, I thought how lovely it would be to look out at that everyday. Then, I drove back, and back, and back ... and I realized that, while I would LOVE to live in a more rural area on a larger piece of land, if it included driving, I have to say no. I already drive more than I want to drive, because we only have one car, but there is simply no way we could be a one car family if we lived rurally. Not if we had the lifestyle we have at the moment.

To our credit, even with the busyness of our lives and all of that extra, unplanned, driving, we managed to eat from home, and since I don't, in general, buy convenience food, it means that I cooked.

On Sunday, according to my notes, we had braised rabbit. We harvested half of the bunnies from our winter litters, and so that's probably accurate. We also made rabbit sausage, and I'm pretty sure that was breakfast on Monday morning. I didn't write down what we had for dinner on Monday. I wish I could remember. I'll bet it was yummy.

Tuesday I baked a ham steak (from last fall's pig share). I always get our hams uncured, and so, I slow cook them, usually in a liquid. In this case, it was apple cider. Yum! I also made a peach cobbler using canned peaches, and we had pickles and some leftover quiche on the side.

Wednesday was Earth Day. I spent most of the morning cleaning up the yard and getting the garden ready for planting. The grandbabies came over in the morning and had a good time playing outside with us. For dinner, we had slow-roasted chicken and as an accompaniment, we had cornbread and pickles (not cucumber pickles, but pickled beets, carrots, and green beans).

Thursday, the girls ran off for the evening to their painting party, and the oldest grandbaby stayed the night at Grandma's - a treat for everyone. Deus Ex Machina and I took her to the movie store and had her pick out a DVD. It was turning into a very late evening, and a very long day for the grandbaby, and so we deviated from the challenge and bought some take-out burgers and fries. After drinking most of her milkshake, however, she didn't have any room for her burger and fries.

Friday night I made "Burrito Bowls", which is a gluten-free burrito option, a la Chipotles. I've been reading the Tightwad Gazette (a compilation of the 1990s newsletter from Amy Dacyzyn, a.k.a. the Frugal Zealot). A reader had sent in a tip on how to prep dried beans so that they cook faster, and I decided to try it. The technique calls for soaking the beans (the one step I never had time for) and then, freezing them. According to the letter writer, freezing them after soaking them breaks down the cellulose in the same way the boiling for two hours does, and so it only takes about 20 minutes to cook them from frozen. It worked pretty well, although I actually like my beans a bit mushier than these came out, but I'd do it again. In fact, I soaked black beans yesterday and will put them in the freezer today.

Last Friday, our burritos included seasoned beans, rice, seasoned ground beef, salsa, sour cream and grated cheddar. I found some store-bought tortillas in the back of the refrigerator for the girls, and they had actual burritos. Any leftover rice usually ends up in the dehydrator and leftover meat and beans will be made into chili.

I'm sure you've noticed a rather marked lack of any "fresh" foods. The wild greens are just now, just this week, starting to show. We'll probably harvest some dandelion greens and stinging nettles (if the bulldozer hasn't destroyed our patch) this week to add to our meals, but here in Maine, this time of year, eating locally, and especially from our larder, means that we don't really have fresh fruits and vegetables as an option. I've planted peas, which are just starting to sprout, and we have chives ready to harvest in the garden, but for the most part, nothing is growing in the garden, which means we really are, wholly, dependent on what is in the larder - what we stored from last year's harvest or what we've managed to keep extras of from our purchases at the grocery store.

Which made me think, perhaps, a better time of year to eat down the larder, for us, would be in June, after the garden has been planted and some things are starting to produce. Something to think about, anyway.

This is the last week of the challenge for us. We've saved about one-third what we normally spend at the grocery store, which tells me that, when we shop, we aren't buying food. I guess we spend a lot of money on coffee and other beverages ... and it's also interesting to note how much we spend on non-food items.

Are you doing the challenge? How've you been faring?

1 comment:

  1. For me that was the reason not to participate, the lack of fresh vegetables and fruit. Especially because I don't have much stored in the way of vegetables and fruit. I have quite a few things planted in the garden, but nothing to harvest yet. :) We do have nettles in the garden and some other 'weeds' which we've eaten. Oh and I still have one small pumpkin from last year and some pumpkin puree in the freezer. But I really would like to do this later in the year. :)