I write a lot about what happens on the farm, but that usually refers to the animals and crops. However, the kitchen is always busy, well when I’m home anyways. Lessons learned from generations before us especially from those during the great depression play a big role in what some of us do today. Having MS also plays a big role in how I cook and prep.
These days with the supply and demand not being consistent, have led some to canning and trying to be self-sustained. Well, I really don’t blame anyone, but here at home I’m doing the same thing we have done for years. It’s great to look at face book and see what some people do to prepare for winter, but honestly it can be challenging and overwhelming. When coivd-19 was first on the horizon people were crazed but looking back would we have done it differently? If we took the time to plan, what would we have done differently? I say this with a grain of salt because there were a several items that disappeared almost overnight. Meats, Wipes, hand sanitizer, bleach, bread and the good old TP, were hard to find for a month or two where we live. Honestly, I think we purchased TP, and bleach the most, but I was buying for 4 households and the bleach was for the milk house. I always buy a lot; I truly dislike crowds and shopping.
Over the last few years there have been many interruptions in the food supply. From having trouble at the ports, to other countries not exporting, to flooding, lack of labor and droughts, have now left some people learning a family tradition that seemed lost in the last generation or two. Finding canning jars, lids and processors have been difficult for some and others have found the prices are quickly rising. I will admit I have bought a few cases this year, but I think that has as much to do with my OCD as it does fear. We can also freeze instead of canning and do freeze some veggies. However, then freezer space becomes an issue, and it seems whatever I’m looking for is on the bottom of the freezer. My aunt was big into dehydrating, but that isn’t for me right now. I just don’t have the space.
My kitchen, however, has been scattered with random jars now for over a year. Jars empty, washed and refilled with some kind of food. When my father in-law passed away this time last year, I pulled out my canner and started canning. I think I told people I was very late getting started, or way ahead of the next season. Truth is both my parents were raised during and in the end of the great depression. “Waste not want not” was drilled into my head from my father. So, following the funeral I canned the veggie trays making soups etc. Call me frugal, cheap, a prepper, or the dreaded hoarder/stocker. Eh whatever, again truth is I’m just doing what those before me have done. In reality I haven’t touched the surface to what some use to do.
My jars are odd sizes, and it drives me crazy, but they are mostly hand me downs. Most of the food that was processed, was about to be thrown out. There were a few pounds Leaf lard in my farm store freezer, so I was able to render it down to make lard. It had been picked over and was nearing its sell by dates, so instead of tossing it, I brought it home. I was actually kind of excited. Why? Well, I was taught to make pies with lard, and I can’t find it anymore, so I stopped making pies from scratch. The lard will be used this Thanksgiving to make a peach pie. The peaches were canned as the season was leaving us. Most had bad spots, and again needed to be tossed. The onions were picked over in our farm store and I needed to toss them. Those words “waste not want not” keep ringing in my ears. To waste means I don’t want it, even if I need it. I look at it as a gift. Even if I’m not sure towards what, I will try to use it. I’m not perfect at it, but I sure try.
So, my little farmhouse kitchen has been busy prepping for the winter. Foods that were freezer burnt, old and unwanted have been given a purpose, and just not tossed. They were preserved in a way that I know what is in my food, or what preservatives are not in our food. With my MS getting out in real bad weather isn’t something I shouldn’t be doing. I just reach for the shelf and dinner is done. I don’t feel well, I can reach for a jar and its easy prep for a meal. I love the holidays, but I think my kitchen likes it better. I may make a mess making my holiday meals, but all my canning stuff is put away, the random jars are filled and or boxed and put away.
The question is, how much do I have? Even though the pictures make it seem like I’m hoarding and stocking, I may have enough for a few weeks. Would I love to have a years’ worth, but I don’t. Just think about it for a minute. Corn for example, I need a quart at each meal for my family, and I have corn let’s say twice a week. That’s 102-quart jars of corn needed to be put up. Let’s say we also did that with peas, carrots, and greens beans, that’s 408-quart jars. 408 jars to prep and then that is if you served two veggies at each meal, that’s only 4 meals a week. That really isn’t enough. There are 3 more meals (and I’m talking just dinner). So no, I really have nowhere near enough. I don’t even own that many jars. And can you imagine the storage/pantry. I would need a room to itself. It would be my dream, but that’s why I’m constantly canning. Canning whatever is picked over, and unwanted.
I’m blessed for what we have, but as hard as my little kitchen worked, it won’t be enough, but it is something. To get us past the worst weather that may be headed our way, maybe even enough to get us until other local crops are harvested. As I have just started making applesauce, I have taken some over to my mom’s. She fell and had to have stiches in her lip. Her first request was my applesauce.
I am always into something. To say we are stocking, and prepping is just one way of also saying “waste not want not” those veggies from summer past come alive in the winter even on the coldest night, there is a taste of summer and foods it provided us. There is nothing more rewarding than smelling that tomato sauce from last summer and pouring that pasta sauce into the pan. Or that jar of strawberry jam and spreading it on toast. Personally, I’m not a super social person, so I like that fact I don’t have go to the market.
We all choose how we fill our pantry, and how we cook. This is what works for us, and our farm family. The Great Depression left its mark in our family, and to “waste not want not” keeps my canning jars full, and our farm kitchen busy.
From farm to table and canning jars. My kitchen may be a mess, but it serves up a touch of the seasons past on those chilly nights.