Use What You Have

It’s my sabbath, and I have been in the moment all day. On my sabbath, I take a break from Time, not from work…
I thought I would offer up this up for today’s entry.

This is one of my favorite passages in any book. (Let it be known, I really don’t read fiction. I pretty much read my same old reference books over and over.) In this case, the book is Carla Emery‘s Encyclopedia of Country Living.
This bit is about food and growing it, but one could be creative and apply these thoughts to other areas of life perhaps.

“The wonderful magic at the heart of a food-growing household is the magic that turns your home-produced turnips and cream, apples and meat into your meals. The moment of triumph is when you say to the family, “Here’s what we worked so hard to grow, and isn’t it good!” I think you cook most happily, freely, and independently when you make good things out of what Providence is giving you!
Lane Morgan, author of the Winter Harvest Cookbook (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1990), says, ‘I agree entirely that cooks are spending too much money at the supermarket and at the gourmet supply store. But I think we would profit by spending more time looking at cuisines of other cultures, to help us better use what our particular gardens can grow. Country people around here will eat canned green beans and carrots all winter, which are considerable work to put up, because that’s good Amereican garden food. Meanwhile they could be eating fresh kale and leeks and Japanese mustards from that same garden, which would be tastier, more nutritious, and easier all around, but they don’t because that’s foreign stuff and they don’t know the Greek or Indian or Japanese techniques to make them wonderful. They’ll make clam dip from a package, but they wouldn’t consider an Indian chutney made of garden mint and chutney, served with garden spinach and potatoes. Too strange.’
Making menus out of what you can grow is the way that Great-Grandmother did it. Each week she looked in the larder and the cellar and took a walk through the garden to see what she had to work with. Then she made menus. When she had eggs and milk aplenty, a little honey and some stale bread, the family had a bread pudding. In May she served rhubarb in it, in June strawberries over it, and in September peaches — because that’s the way they grew.
To have 365 days of independent eating, you’ve got to learn to eat what you can grow, and you’ve got to learn to grow what you want to eat. At first it will be hard, but stick to it. If you don’t like what you have, eat it anyway and use the energy of your distaste to figure how to get what you’ll like better. If your only meat is elk, eat elk until you can raise something else. If you miss bacon, get four little pigs. In six months, they’ll be 200-pounders. and you’ll have a year’s supply of bacon plus a sow to breed and keep the bacon coming. If you’re still living in the city and you don’t have anything but dreams, try for fun buying only what you imagine you could grow — in a natural, unprocessed state — like whole grains, and see if you can learn to live off it.
When lettuce is in season, have a salad every day — you can’t preserve it. If you miss it in the off-season, contrive a way to raise winter lettuce in the house. If you miss sweets, learn beekeeping. If you have barley and corn, make your bread, pancakes, and pie crust out of barley floour, cornmeal crust, and a bear-meat filling. If you have some tough old hens past their laying time, 3 extra male goats, and 100 rabbits, then learn good ways to cook tough old hens, goat meat, and rabbit.”

for the record, I don’t like turnips, I have eaten bear meat (and it is good), and I am so not there yet.

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