Happy to be joining in with other mamas to talk about food at the beginning of each month for 2014.
This is such a huge topic for me and one that has been a work in progress over the past 10 years. I would have to say about 25 - 50% of my time each day is spent in some aspect of food - production, preparation, planning, consuming, and clean-up. We have eating with us nearly full-time an 18 year old boy, 15 1/2 year old boy, and then 13, 9, almost 6, and 2 year olds as well as Mike and myself. There are also times when Thomas is home from college and of course visitors.
I am sure I have shared much of this here before, but I grew up eating quite conventionally for the most part. Although, before my parents were divorced, my Mom did bake bread and cook from scratch and grew a small garden. After she became a single mom much of that was left behind because of her lack of time. However, I also had the wonderful experience as a young girl visiting my aunt and uncle who were definitely earthy crunchy types where I was introduced to all kinds of new foods. In addition, my mother and father both did instill the importance of a somewhat healthy eating lifestyle in me as far as keeping junk foods and sugars to a minimum.
When I went to college, I found myself drawn to the natural food store and cafe at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I certainly didn't fit in appearance wise with the crowd that hung out there, but I would still go several days a week, buy a cinnamon raisin bagel and chocolate covered raisins and sometimes sit and study a bit with a cup of coffee while absorbing the atmosphere and conversations of those around me.
Years later, about 8 years into our marriage, realizing ever so slowly that the mainstream, status-seeking lifestyle wasn't what we wanted for our family, Mike and I started reading more and more about homesteading. I had always had small gardens even at our first home (the seed was planted from my own childhood I am sure) but I wanted to learn more about eating healthy, doing more for ourselves, relying less on the conventional food systems and supporting local economies.
Thus we made our move finally to Vermont in 2005. Since then there have been many challenges which is certainly a normal part of life but through it all our resolve to put food as our number one priority has remained. Truly, without our health, really what do we have?
So, despite earning very little often, food has remained our largest expense. It is that important.
This past year our business took over too much of our time. We realize this looking back now and are working to change our priorities for 2014. Because of this we saved very little food from the growing season and didn't always take the time to prepare as healthy meals as I would like.
I am going to start off this series by sharing what we purchased at least week's food shopping. There is so much room for improvement.
At the Natural Food Store -
local organic tofu (made in Vermont), salad greens, bakers yeast, herbal mouthwash (I have battled tooth decay for years now), organic strawberry jam, organic veggie bouillon, 4 organic pounds of pasta, a dark chocolate bar, organic corn chips, honey sesame sticks, organic raisins, organic wheat bulger, vanilla extract, 10 lbs local organic w.w. bread flour
At a small Grocery store -
2 organic wines (Cottonwood Creek is $6.99 a bottle), 2 Parmesan cheeses, 2 large spaghetti sauce, 1 box powdered sugar, 10 pounds King Arthur Unbleached Flour, 2 boxes Cheerios, Graham crackers, toilet paper (marcal), dental floss, cream cheese, Stonyfield Organic yogurt , 2 pounds Monterey cheese
At Shaws -
2 organic grape juice, organic salad dressing, 2 organic salsa, 2 bags fair trade organic coffee
Recently I called our nearby organic farm and asked them if I could buy $100 worth of potatoes, carrots and onions and was excited they still had enough available. So those are our vegetable staples right now. Our own winter squash never matured this year because of the wet July I think. Even though we grew 150 onions, they were gone by mid November.
All of our eggs do come from our hens.
Today we are going to buy some organic pasture raised stew beef from our neighbor as well as raw milk (which we buy milk at least a couple times a week) to make a beef stew tomorrow morning. One of my favorites -
Here is how I make it (approximately)
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a large soup pot (cast iron would be wonderful). Let the oil get hot and add the beef pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds) to brown each side. When it is just about done add a lot of chopped garlic. Add 1 quart canned chopped tomatoes with the juices, salt and pepper, various seasonings to your taste, 1/2 cup red wine and reduce heat to simmer. Cut up 4 onions but in large slices/chunks. Add to pot. Add potatoes (cut in large chunks) and carrots. I just leave all of this to simmer on the woodstove all day. Be sure to check often and add liquid if necessary. I put the pot on a rack on the wood stove so it stays at a low temperature.
As this series progresses, I plan to share more of our goals for this year's growing season, how we are progressing (or not) with milking our own goats, and more meal plans and recipes.
Joining in with Feeding Our Families ~