Depression Cooking With Clara

I subscribe to a blog called Hen and Harvest, and last week they posted about some cooking videos on You Tube that feature depression era cooking. Clara is in her nineties and has a wealth of information and stories to share as she makes a meal that would be commonly eaten during the depression. I just got done watching one; what a delight. Not because the time remembered was delightful, but because her family’s creativity in cooking with little produced much joy and satisfaction.
Watch them all here.

March 23, 2009

Kings and kingdoms
will all pass away

This week our history lessons will center around how daily life has changed over time. The main point to learn is that “while basic human needs remain the same, they are met in different ways in different times and places” (taken from our State Standards). Food acquisition, shelter, medical care, clothing and more are quite different now than even fifty years ago. I had the good fortune of both my mother and Carol being at the house today. We took the opportunity to ask them questions about what daily life was like when they were children, both coming from rural Ohio settings. It was a real treat to hear about their childhoods, and I learned some new things I hadn’t heard before. We’ll interview my dad some morning this week to get his perspective, and quiz Carol about what she knows of Don’s childhood. Then the girls will each write a report on these four precious pieces of life history.
Something struck me as my mom was talking about the church they attended as children not being a gospel-preaching one. Besides the physical needs each of us down through time has had to find ways to meet, there has always been the all-important spiritual one. Ever since the rush in the Garden to for-goodness’-sakes-get-your-clothes-on, we’ve needed Jesus so badly, there’d be no real ‘daily life’ without Him. It is beautiful to think of the “different ways in different times and places” He has made Himself known- truth in deepest Africa, encouragement during the Great Depression, light in the dark jungles, a comfort in war, a companion in the desert, and by my side through my worst day. What a great way to head into the Easter season- recognizing that

All may change
but Jesus, never
glory to His name!

Brownies, Anyone?

I just have to tell this story; it is too good to keep to myself…
At a baby shower the other day, Luke’s cousin shared that she had tried a new brownie recipe, and had some of the creation with her for us to try. They were low in Weight Watcher points, and were a good source of fiber. I thought they tasted pretty good, but let’s be honest- WW stuff will NEVER taste like the real thing. Some concoctions, though, by being similar to comfort food, can comfort us for, maybe, five minutes. I was more interested in the roughage content, as we have a little girl with intestinal issues, so I thought I would make them for the family. They turned out the same as Sara’s, and Luke and the kids ate them with little comment. The next day, I packed the leftovers in our pre-Maple Syrup Festival lunch. The kids each ate one, again, with no comment, but when I offered one to Luke, he said no, thanks.
It wasn’t until the ride home from Malabar Farm that he had these few words to say:
“Those brownies you made- were those from scratch, or some new from a box you tried? Because they were the most horrible things I ever tasted. I would rather eat [insert colorful word for human waste] than have one of those again. When you asked me if I wanted one after lunch today, I was thinking, [insert colorful word for gagging]. No way.”
Ah, yes, my picky eater. I wish he would tell me what he really thinks once in a while. I am flying blind here.
What makes this story so sweet, literally, is that he still doesn’t even know what was in those brownies. Until now. Hee.

In The Garden

seeds5We’ve got some onions. The Early Girl tomatoes left us early, as little C found their green sprouts fun to pluck. Luke got some lights at Lowe’s and installed them in some shelving we had, and I’m feeling so good at the progress we’re making. I have to remind myself what ‘progress’ really means, to us, this year.
-have an established method (lighted shelving and containers) in order to start seeds indoors
-grow as much as Carol’s garden boxes out back will hold
-frequent farmers’ markets; eat half the produce and can the rest
(this point used to include selling my own produce in the farmers’ market, but I’m not sure that is a viable goal at this point, with our van’s transmission slowing progress on the house)

seeds2All that matters to me right now is that we get into a habit of growing or obtaining locally most of our food. I want our children to grow up doing this, and seeing how we only have a few years left with A Major, we need to get kicking on the things she will later say, “This is what my family was like…” Similar activities would include us going camping in our RV and me knitting. Sure, I never finish anything, but at least they see me try.

March 10, 2009

So much for posting every day this month.
I’m enjoying my second run through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Here’s one quote that I want to share:

…the religion of time-saving pushes me to zip through a meal or a chore, rushing everybody out the door to the next point on a schedule. All that hurry can blur the truth that life is a zero-sum equation. Every minute I save will get used on something else, possibly no more sublime than staring at the newel post trying to remember what I just ran upstairs for. On the other hand, attending to the task in front of me- even a quotidian chore- might make it into part of a good day, rather than just a rock in the road to someplace else.
~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable, Miracle

She opens that chapter with a story about how once she was able to shave some time off her trip someplace, by going a different route. Her grandfather then chided her about how it took her fifteen minutes to gloat about the great feat, now what was she going to do with the rest of the time she saved? Later on in the passage she talks about how cooking, to her, is one of those “quotidian chore”s- an ordinary task that takes on meaning when one takes her time and approaches it in the right spirit.

When I’m in a blue mood I head for the kitchen. I turn the pages of my favorite cookbooks, summoning the prospective joyful noise of a shared meal. I stand over a bubbling soup, close my eyes, and inhale. From the ground up, everything about nourishment steadies my soul.

March 5, 2009

52. The first fresh day. Sure, there may be times the temperature gets unseasonably warm in February, even January, but we all know these are a fluke. When weather is agreeable in March, I can’t help but be buoyed by the hope a 50 degree day gives. Our school gets called off for a ‘fresh day’ like this.
Go get fresh with someone today, won’t you?

March 4, 2009

I just got the last of the cupcakes into the oven, this week’s snack offering for our local CEF Good News Club. We are rejoicing for so many reasons about this club:
~Our church agreed to sponsor it, which means that they take on the operating costs and commit to providing help and follow-up on children making decisions. Huge Praise!
~Since we still live so far away, we couldn’t help out on site Thursdays, so Luke volunteered us to make snacks. This answered my “praying myself out of a job” prayers. I get the treats ready Tue-Wed, then take them to church for our pastor to bring with him.
~Our pastor helps out! I love to see him interacting with the children. And it has been such a blessing to know how excited he is about the decisions made.
This activity makes my midweek a little hectic, but I have to remind myself of the benefits that even one little cupcake could reap.

March 3, 2009

Here is a synopsis of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, straight from the pen of the author in chapter one:

This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew. We tried to wring most of the petroleum out of our food chain, even if that meant giving up some things. Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we’d know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be us, as we learned to produce more of what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals and enough sense to refrain from naming them.
~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

My favorite website now? LocalHarvest.org

March 2, 2009

I think it is high time I started treating this like the daily journal it is, hadn’t I?!
After reading the first chapter of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for the second time, I have been inspired anew in my garden planting, if that is even possible (I thought I was riding pretty high before). I picked up parsley, broccoli, eggplant, and asparagus seeds at the store, but was waffling on actually planting them. It might not have been anything specific that Barbara said in that first chapter, but I remembered that one of the reasons I want to grow my own food is simply because I can. If I love these four foods enough to eat them, it is worth a try growing them myself. Still not sure about the broccoli’s fate: last year we had a plant that had worms, and I didn’t want to have another experience like Carol’s (she’ll have to tell you about it on her blog sometime), so I pitched the stalks. The more I think about it, though, what’s the big deal about worms if I am soaking, blanching, and freezing the produce? The worms will die way before the crucifer touches anybody’s lips, which may only be mine in the form of broccoli cheese soup or stir fry. I don’t think I want to surrender growing one of my favorite foods for the threat of a few worms.
My church has scheduled some workshops on meat processing, gardening, and food preservation. I am so there! This is exciting to me not only for the way I can hang out with like minded people in my fellowship, but because I can see this turning in to an awesome outreach opportunity in the surrounding area. How wonderful to be ‘using’ the current economic times as a catalyst to get the attention of people who might not walk through our church’s doors otherwise. I have visions of our group being a presence at the local farmer’s market this summer as well, maybe with a homegrown treat to give away, or cooking demonstrations, or something else. It is fun to think about.
I got to go to a baby shower yesterday, and really enjoyed my time there. When the ladies went around our circle, offering advice and funny stories, Charley shared that she would sometimes hold her grandsons through their naptimes when they were babies. It reminded me of something I did the other day:
I’ll just sit down here in the rocker and lull her to sleep. When she is asleep I’ll lay her in her bed and go change the laundry. When I have the laundry folded, I’ll start some bread in the machine. When that is done, I should probably work on Luke’s wool socks I’m knitting. Grandma Gertie knitted some wool socks that I’ve seen; they turned out one bigger than the other. What if that is what happens to Luke’s? All that work. This blanket baby and me are under, Gertie made this out of fleece scraps she got from her elderly neighbor at the assisted living home. I love the colors, the warmth, the thickness of this quilt. She was kind enough (and ambitious enough) to make me two! I think the second one was a result of my complete pleasure at receiving the first. Now Carol and Luke are sitting here with us, talking about how things have changed so much since we were young, and definitely since Carol was young. How much so since Gertie was young! The conversation ends, and I sit and take in the stillness, the breathing coming from the next room, the breathing coming from my lap, the breathing coming from my own chest. And I look at that quilt.
And I rock my sleeping baby. There’s no real need to put her down, not anytime soon anyway. The laundry and the children and the world will be changed soon enough.