Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Once again, I decided to observe Homegrown Fridays, eating only what I’ve grown on the Fridays in Lent. I started two weeks early so I could get in seven Fridays and even at that, two of the Fridays were actually Thursdays because of other commitments. I finished early so that I could be off on another adventure. If you’re reading this the first week in April, 2012, I’m at Tillers International in Michigan finding out more of what they do there while my husband is taking a class in timber framing.
When people think of eating only what they’ve grown, they are usually thinking of doing it during the normal growing season. Certainly, at other times of the year, I’d have different foods available. Although I used to do quite a bit of canning, I do as little as possible now. I concentrate on foods that store well all by themselves and on solar dried foods as I work toward lessening my carbon footprint on this earth. When you limit yourself to only what you grow, you come to see how valuable little extras are, such as leavening for baked goods or cooking oil. By the way, even the pioneers heading West in their covered wagons had baking powder. They also had lard for cooking grease and lemon extract to add to their sugar to make lemonade.
Winter mainstay foods in our house are sweet potatoes, cowpeas, and greens from the garden, and that is evident in my Homegrown Friday meals. Cowpeas are the best dry bean for me to grow in my region. In other parts of the country, you would rely on other types of beans. I have green beans that are canned and some in a crock salted down. I have sauerkraut in a crock, but I didn’t grow the cabbage. I have corn, wheat, and sorghum for grain and popcorn, peanuts, and hazelnuts for quick food. Honey is my sweetener. Garlic, onions, and winter squash keep themselves pretty well. Many other things that I dried provide needed variety.
I usually use Homegrown Fridays to try something new. This year I made peanut butter in my GrainMaker mill and bean burgers from my cowpeas. Much of what I made, however, was already a regular part of our diet, which is good because I seemed to be really busy with a lot of other things this year. We didn’t just plop down on these five acres and start growing most of our food. We’ve been here since 1984 and it has been a learning experience that continues. You start where you can with a small garden or even pots on your deck. Learn as you go and do what you can. What you can’t grow you can source locally. Then one day it will happen. You’ll look at the food on your table and realize that you either grew it all yourself or you know who did. Once you reach that point and have your family eating homegrown meals regularly, you will know better how to help feed others—and there are so many others in need of help. The eating, by the way, is sometimes the tricky part. We have to get the food all the way to the table in a way our families will eat it. Education and an open mind go a long way in accomplishing that. Creative cooks have an advantage. Learn more about my 2012 Homegrown Fridays at Homeplace Earth.
You might want to start a project like this by growing your breakfast. My Homegrown Friday breakfast is cornmeal mush made with my Bloody Butcher corn and sweetened with honey. This year I was able to add hazelnuts to that. My video Cover Crops and Compost Crops IN Your Garden gives pointers for growing the corn. You will find information on how to manage your corn crop after harvest at Homeplace Earth. Have fun!