Hello dear friends! Well, we've been busy here at the old Zempel boarding house, the garden is finally producing, and every day is filled with preserving and cooking. Been putting in twelve-hour days in the kitchen. People like to romanticize the cottage lifestyle, but it's a lot of work. Really, it is a lot easier to just grab a bag of frozen vegetables from the store's freezer section, than it is to pick, wash and prepare them from a garden. And lately I have been wondering if I was just starting out at canning, if it would be worth it; jars run about a dollar each and the cheapest lids are running about 30cents each so just with those two items you have $1.30 into those jars, plus if you were to buy your vegetables at a fruit stand or farmer's market, there's that money too. I think it would be more cost effective for the time being (and just for this time) to just look for a good sale and stock up on canned goods. The big caveat being, if you were just starting out at canning, but for me it makes sense because I've been canning for almost half a century, and we garden from saved seeds, basically all I have to pay for is lids. When I started canning wayyyyy back in the 1970s, no one was canning. Women's lib was in its heyday, and anything that had to do with a woman being "chained" to the kitchen was considered unfashionable. Which was a wonderful boon for me! People were all too happy to give me all those old canning jars. It didn't hurt that I looked about twelve years old although I was nineteen. Many a time I would visit with an elderly neighbor and tell them that I was canning and the next thing to happen they would look astounded that "that little girl knows how to can! Edna! We have a bunch of old canning jars down in the basement, don't we?" And the next thing you know I had an entire carload of jars. People were just happy to get rid of them.
Vegetables aren't the only things we grow. Here's a picture of a bouquet picked from the "meadow" that we started last year:
A FUN DISCOVERY
Every once in a great while, I replace my canning and pickling spices. Not wanting to waste them, I asked Ran to plant the mustard seeds in the garden to see what would develop. Although they were probably eons old, within days we had the loveliest row of mustard greens coming up. Now I'm eyeing the bags of green peas (organic) that have been sitting in my soup pantry. Will definitely give them a try this coming spring. During the winter months we sprout seeds for our "greens" rather than buy store lettuce and such, we discovered that organic black lentils, which are a fraction of the price of those sprouting mixtures, worked dandy for sprouting. Oh! And you all the know the Bible verse about the "faith of a mustard seed"? Well, nothing will make that verse come more alive than planting a row of them. I think it could be a good lesson for children (and maybe a few adults, too).
Almost everything reminds me of a Bible verse lately, I guess it is the way God speaks to me. I'll see an old man driving down the road in convertible and I'll think of "when I was a child", when the president announced that there wasn't any inflation, I thought of "a loaf of bread for a day's wages, but do not touch the wine or the oil". Although I no longer belong to the church I grew up in, it did prepare me. I am so blessed to have that upbringing. It seems to me a lot of people are anchorless these days.
ORANGE ROSEMARY MARMALADE
Some dear person, requested the recipe for the orange rosemary marmalade that I had mentioned in the comments in the last post: The recipe comes from The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead:
Rosemary Orange Marmalade
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 C. boiling water
3 C. sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
Steep 1 sprig of rosemary in the boiling water for 3o minutes; discard the herb sprig. Peel the zest from the oranges, removing as little pith as possible; julienne thinly and place in saucepan with water to cover. Simmer, covered, about 1/2 hour or until tender. Drain and reserve.
With a sharp knife free the orange sections from their membranes. Seed the oranges and dice coarsely, then transfer to a non-aluminum saucepan with the rosemary infusion and the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, for 35 minutes. Add the pectin and boil for exactly 1 minute. Place a sprig of rosemary in each of 4 half-pint jars and pour the marmalade over them. Seal.
CHEAPER THAN THE DOLLAR STORE
I read or heard somewhere, that with the economy being what it is, people are turning to the dollar stores as their main source of groceries. While there may be some healthy items at these stores, most of it is cheap processed foods that you could probably buy just as cheaply at your regular grocers, except for dried beans, $1/ pound is about the cheapest I can find, unless they are the reduced-for-quick-sale rack. Here's a list of things that you can find a regular grocery store, that usually cost $1 or less, that would be far healthier: a pound of carrots, cabbage runs about 69 cents a pound, cans of tuna, a pound of regular oatmeal, a bag of onions, rice, pinto beans, most canned vegetables are still less than $1, potatoes, split peas, and check out the day-old bread rack. The point being, you have to shop wisely these days, and pay close attention to the sizes of packaging (shrinkflation). You really need to take your time and poke around. The other day I was in Walmart and needed some salsa, I found some in cans on the bottom shelf for 98 cents a 16 oz can, half the price or less than the jarred salsas displayed at eye level.
I'm always recommending people keep actual books or print out things from the internet that they want to keep. You never know when the internet is going to go down and you'll need that information. Or when your favorite blogger or Youtuber is going to shut down and all that information will be lost. Ha! Not to mention, what if we really do plunge into that deep depression that they are always predicting, and you cannot afford internet or smartphone fees? No, it is good to have real honest to goodness books. Some basic titles on gardening, canning, a good basic cookbook, herbology, foraging, home repair, basic medical, sewing and mending, bushcraft and some nice ones just for entertainment. I would include a Bible and an older book of US history (pre-political correctness). The good thing is that most of these books can be found quite inexpensively at thrift stores and used, on-line. Here's a list of some of my favorites:
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener by John Seymour
Jackie Clay's Canning Book
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar
The Boy's Own Handbook
Betty Crocker's Kitchen Gardens by Mary Mason Campbell
Gold Medal Century of Success Cookbook
The Farm Journal Cookbook
Historical Documents by the Harvard Classics
And I prefer the New English Translation of the Bible rather than old King James
Well, that's a start, maybe every post I should give a book recommendation? Anyways, I've prattled on long enough, off to get some work done. Hope you all have a terrific week!