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Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2012

I ♥ stoneware

 Aurora @ Island Dreaming

Two Christmases ago we were given a stoneware pizza stone; and it has proved one of the most useful presents we have ever been given. Our oven has a bottom heating element that creates a column of heat that turns the base of anything you are trying to cook black before the rest is even warmed through. This especially spells disaster for anything going in at a high temperature - bread for example. If you consistently fail at baking, it may not be your technique, but your tools. Glass, metal and Teflon (which we avoid anyway) just don't compare if you have an oven like mine.

Our pizza stone has changed all of that. It distributes heat evenly, but insulates the edges of the food from very high heat, giving the bread the best chance at rising and cooking evenly. It also 'seasons' to a smooth, genuinely  non-stick surface that requires very little oiling or lining. As well as loaves, we have also made pizza at least once a fortnight - quick, healthy (if you are frugal with the cheese) and easy to eat on the go if need be. We have since invested in a stoneware brownie tray, not that we eat a lot of brownies (though that might change!), but because it is the perfect size for baking and roasting small quantities of vegetables. I also envision a lot more trays bakes coming from our kitchen in the near future.

New stoneware is a fairly pale, unglazed variant of stone coloured. If it is to perform its non-stick duties well, it will need to be seasoned. An initial seasoning can be achieved by either brushing the new pan with oil and baking it empty at a high heat for an hour or so, or by making sure that the first few times it is used to cook actual food, that that food is quite oily. The latter method is the route we took, the initial result is not as even, but it soon evens out with repeated use and this method also saves energy. The stoneware will initially turn golden, becoming a deeper shade of brown with every use:




Once well seasoned, stoneware can be cleaned with soap if absolutely necessary, although by this time it will be so non-stick that a wipe with a warm damp cloth or short soak in hot water should suffice. Burnt on residue can be scraped off with an old debit card. You can cut food on stoneware, but be warned it will likely blunt your knife, not damage the stoneware itself. The only thing that will truly damage your stoneware is extreme changes in temperature - therefore it should not go from the fridge to a hot oven or vice versa, or be exposed to direct heat. Care should be taken to ensure that stoneware pieces are not dropped or knocked. They may remain intact, but will be weakened and may instead break whilst in use at a later date, when you least expect it.

If you want to invest in stoneware, as always, buy the best you can afford and buy the unglazed variety. You can buy everything from casserole dishes to muffin trays and we are gradually adding pieces to our collection as funds allow. Be prepared to show it a little TLC in the beginning and it will serve you well.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rethinking Convenience Food

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Cooking from scratch doesn't necessarily come to mind when one thinks of convenience foods. We have been trained for several generations to purchase ready-made goods. It started out innocent enough, but now people are yearning to go back to an earlier time and sets of skills and do more for themselves. Whether it be cooking, gardening, farming, or other lost skills it's all the same, we thought we were saving time and ended up getting busier and busier with no time (we were told) to do for ourselves. But really we lost a lot by not paying attention. I call myself Throwback for a reason. I am a throwback to an earlier time, when tasks like cooking, sewing and all the ins and outs of gardening were common knowledge. I'll give the luck of the draw some credit, I grew up on a farm, my parents were older and still kept some of the old ways, likewise with their circle of friends. My husband and I joke that our habits are so old, that they're in again.


As I prepared soup for dinner today, I went about my work gathering ingredients. We grow most of our food and preserve the harvest in a multitude of ways to last us through the dark days until the growing season starts in earnest.

You know, it sure is convenient to just go to the fruit room, freezer or root cellar and go shopping for meal preparation. I grabbed home canned roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions and potatoes from dry storage, ground beef, peppers, cilantro pesto and corn from the freezer, and grabbed a quart of chicken stock from the fridge. This task made me realize just how convenient it is to have great ingredients on hand to prepare meals with. We grow our own, but if you're not there yet with your pantry stocking from your gardens, you can still load your pantry with purchased goods. The key is having it on hand. Many good meals have been made on the spur of the moment - as long as you have the basics you're good to go.

I guess what I want to say is, if you're a new cook or gardener slaving away trying to master the skills, it's worth it. We need to rethink the idea of convenience food, nothing is more convenient than having good food on hand for preparing a home cooked meal.

Here is the recipe for our dinner made possible by our pantry and my guess and by gosh cooking. This recipe is just a general idea that can be changed to match what you have on hand. In the summer my chilies, corn and cilantro are fresh, in the winter the freezer stores have to do. Pork or chicken are good in this soup too - just use what you have. This recipe is convenient too because of the long cooking time, I can leave this to cook on the back of the woodstove, or even in the slow cooker if I wanted to. Truly convenient.

Beef Stew with Cilantro

1 pound ground beef or stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1 quart whole canned tomatoes
1 pint roasted whole tomatoes
1 quart chicken or beef stock
2 pounds potatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 or 3 anaheim chiles, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro or cilantro pesto
1 cup frozen corn
sugar to taste - 1 teaspoon or not?
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In large saucepan over medium high heat, brown onion, garlic and chopped pepper in 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter. When onions are caramelized, add meat and cook until brown. Remove meat and alliums from pan and set aside. Over medium heat in same pan, add all other ingredients, bring to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, add meat and alliums. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Serve. Much better the next day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts on learning to cook

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming

I honestly believe that our food cultures offer us the biggest opportunity to improve our health and to reduce our impact on the planet. Food also makes up a large part of the monthly expenditure of many households. Knowing your way around a kitchen, a spice drawer and a produce aisle or box are therefore essential if you are going to cook frugally and sustainably. The aim is to not be a slave to ingredients lists and recipes, but to be able to make the most of what is available to you. Kitchen skills are hugely important and I know that many of you will have the basics and beyond. But equally, I know that many of you won't, or at least won't have confidence in  the kitchen. So how do you learn?


Necessity is the mother of all invention. At the age of 15 I began my five year vegetarian experiment - and was swiftly told by my mother that I would be cooking and buying my own food if I was going to be 'awkward'. I lived in a fairly rural part of Britain and new fangled frozen bean burgers and Quorn hadn't made it to the shelves of our local supermarket. I had to learn to cook. We don't have home economics lessons in schools here - rather, we have 'Food Technology' - which basically teaches you to design a ready meal to be sold to supermarkets - wholesome, I know. Armed with a cheap illustrated vegetarian recipe book, I made a start that very night trying to recreate the dishes as pictured. The first thing I cooked was a bolognese with TVP in place of the expensive (and as yet unheard of in my part of the world) exotic mushrooms the book called for. It was...revolting. The onions were diced too coarse, in spite of the 5 minutes I took to chop them carefully with a blunt knife, the carrots were still hard, the pasta mushy. 

Now, my mother did actually start to accommodate me again a few weeks later and cooked us both vegetarian food. But for a month I had to persevere and I made a lot of mistakes. I ate them all and many still linger in my memory. But I ate them with a critical palate - what had gone wrong? (everything). What could I add? (exotic mushrooms, probably). What could I take away? (TVP, for sure). Making mistakes is the best way to learn just about anything. Fear of failure will hold you back in the kitchen - and you will make plenty of them. Oven temperatures vary, ingredients vary, pots and pans vary, your attention span varies. It is a long road to confidently balance all these variables, recognize your own limitations and find solutions for them.

There are a few solid skills worth learning, either from a real life cook or from a google video search. Knife skills are perhaps the most important - from sharpening (a sharp knife is safer and faster than a blunt one) to chopping onions in seconds rather than minutes, to jointing a chicken, to slicing vegetables and filleting fish. All of these basic skills remove your dependence on a food supply chain that charges a premium for doing this simple (when you know how) work for you. Once you have these under your belt, the rest of the techniques - grilling, frying, baking and roasting can be built with each and every dish you make.


Technical skills are only one aspect of cooking, the easier part to acquire. A greater part of it is intuition - what flavours go together? What texture am I aiming for? How best to cut the carrots for the stir fry? These are things again learnt over time, with every dish you make and once again fear will hold you back. Be bold with sniffing and sampling the spices and condiments and add them liberally. Pay attention when things go wrong and write and make a note of what worked and what didn't. If you can cook together with others occasionally, you will expand your horizons. As a student I cooked with and for others a lot - and discovered in the process quite a few foods, spices and new techniques that improved my confidence.


Cookbooks can be useful inspiration - they can teach you basic flavour combinations from various culinary traditions, but again they are just a starting point. I always tended to veer away from the glossy tomes of celebrity chefs - if you are just starting out, the expensive, complicated showpieces they proffer are probably best avoided. Cooking shows (thanks to the internet,you can find shows from any tradition and dietary preference from anywhere in the world) can be helpful if you lack inspiration to get up and cook.

The most important thing is to really appreciate what food is, how it got to you and how it can enrich your life. If you have ever grown even a pot of herbs, you will appreciate the effort and resources that go into producing our food. Don't live to eat, but eat to live fully - take a little time to savour the flavours and the aromas and the textures and appreciate the chain of events that brought your food to you. Find a diet that you are passionate about, too, that fits with your ideals - you may want to cook as frugally as you possibly can, you may source pasture raised meat, you may be vegetarian or vegan, you may have special dietary requirements. When you are comfortable with your food choices, the rest will follow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

some thoughts on the value of food

by Francesca @ FuoriBorgo

Thank you for your comments and thoughts the other week on the cost and wastage of food (here).  I was going to focus on ways to limit the waste of food in our households this time around, but I'd like to share a few thoughts that stem from your comments.

thoughts on food

We all seem to agree that when we pay and/or labor more for our food, we're far less likely to waste it.  I, for one, am guilty of occasionally wasting store-bought bread that's gone stale. It doesn't happen very often, as I normally bake our bread, and only rarely need to buy it.  And I don't actually throw it away, it goes to my neighbors' chickens.  But it does happen: we occasionally waste store-bought bread gone stale.

However, I would never, ever waste the bread I bake, which costs far more than the store-bought kind both in terms of money - as it's made with a variety of organic flours and seeds, and baking increases my electricity bill, and in terms of time - to mix, knead, wait for the dough to rise, and bake.  The money, effort and time I spend baking the bread my family eats is not something I'm willing to compromise on, as I believe they're all an investment in our health, and the health of our planet.  Plus, the result is fragrant and precious bread that is eaten to the very last crumb - fresh or stale (we'll talk about how to use stale bread in a different post).  But the stale store-bought bread?  That I toss.  I toss it because I didn't pay much for it, because it's not very healthy, and because it doesn't taste very good.  I toss it, in other words, because that cheap bread wrapped in plastic that I picked from the shelf in a consumeristic logic is not worth trying to save and make something out of.

I think this is the root of the problem: since when has food been (culturally) devalued so much as to become expendable?   What happened to the concept of food as something precious that nourishes our body and souls?  I say "souls" because food is not just about a bunch of nutrients that we gulp down, it is also a matter of taste, and consuming food is a daily ritual that connects us with the land and the people who produce our subsistance, and the loved ones with whom we share it around the table.  I suspect that the fact that food has become cheap stuff that we pick from the shelf, often unaware of where it comes from, has something to do with the fact that from precious, food has become expendable, and liable to be wasted in colossal amounts.  What do you think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Processing elderberries.

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming
The urban hedgerows around here are heavy with elderberries right now - offering abundance to anyone willing to look up and take notice - seemingly very few people. This is a great shame as they are delicious. They have a nice fruity berry taste, if you can get past the astringency of the tannins they contain. The best way to do this is to cook them, usually with sugar or sweeter fruits. They make delicious jellies, preserves and pie fillings on their own or with other sweeter fruits, and good wines and cordials. I have no experience of this, but they can also be dried and added to baked goods.

This year we plan to make wine and jelly with them. I don't like taking too many bunches of berries from the same tree, or too many from the same area and so we have been collecting small harvests on walks across the city over the last few weeks, which we freeze for use when we have enough berries and enough time to do something with them. Only the ripe black berries are edible and they must be removed from the toxic stems. This is easier said than done as the berries are densely packed onto delicately branching heads that collect all manner of dust, debris and creepy crawlies whilst on the tree. Bunches tend to be of mixed ripeness, so going for the most uniformly ripe heads that you can find means less picking and less sorting later on. Once home, there are two main methods of removing the berries from the unwashed stems, both of which are fairly time consuming. If you can rope in a companion to help, the task will be infinitely more enjoyable.

Firstly, the berries can be gently rubbed off of the umbels between fingers and thumb. Green, unripe berries tend to stay attached to the branches, which means less sorting later on. This method is my preferred method, as it can be done with one hand, holding a baby or cup of tea in the other if necessary.



Another method is to use a fork to comb the berries from the stems. This second method of removing them is faster, but strips all berries, regardless of ripeness. Weaker stems also tend to break off, often with berries attached leaving more sorting for later.


Any obvious debris, unripe berries and young spiders can now be removed from the berry mountain. It is fairly easy to pick out large bits of debris - leaves, branch and unripe green berries. It also gives young spiders enough time to crawl out of harms way.

After this, it is necessary to wash the berries to remove dust. If you have several kilos it is best to process small batches at a time to prevent crushing, preserving as much of the juice as possible. Filling a bowl with cold water and then adding the berries to it prevents them being damaged by a blast of water from the tap. A few gentle swirls will lift the dust from them and any last bits of stem and unripe and spoiled berries tend to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off, and a few unripe berries and small bits left behind won't hurt anyone. Drain gently in a colander and store or cook as you wish.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

How stocked is your store cupboard?


By Aurora @ Island Dreaming


We have been in the process of restocking our store cupboard in recent weeks, in anticipation of my reduced income. For the past year we haven't had a particularly robust store, probably a couple of weeks of mismatched ingredients on hand that we topped up as and when we ran out. This is partly because morning sickness once again put me off all the wholefood staples I normally cook with; and partly because of a few large purchases we needed to make, leaving little money for bulk food shops. In the meantime, food price inflation (and just about everything else inflation) has steadily risen.

We did a shop to end all shops (OK, about 6 months worth of staples) the last time I went on maternity leave. It paid off, 2008 was the year of record food inflation. With hindsight, the 200 tins of cat food was overkill (it certainly was for the poor driver who delivered it to our door; though never before or since has a burly stranger been so admired and adored by our usually skittish cats) but the cupboard full of pulses, grains, frozen veg and tinned tomatoes stood us in very good stead.

There are several reasons that I like to keep several months worth of food on hand:
  • I don't have to shop in supermarkets with any regularity. I hate them, even online shopping is a chore for me. But there are no food Co-ops around here and for bulk shopping in the UK, the big retailers are the only real option for many. 
  • We save on fuel and delivery costs if we do fewer shops.
  • We eat much more healthily when we have a full store cupboard - lots more whole food basics, less impulse purchases at the local shop.
  • We eat much more frugally when we have a full store cupboard - lots more wholefood basics, less impulse purchases at the local shop.
  • It is a lot easier to develop good routines when you always have what you need to hand - bread baking only became routine when we started bulk buying flour, for instance.
  • We can make the best of genuinely good deals on staples - tins of tomatoes and strong bread flour have been recent wins.
  • In an inflationary economic climate, it has saved us money.
  • Knowing I always have food on hand to tide us over any lean patches gives me a sense of security that money in the bank doesn't match.
I know these won't apply to everyone -  for financial reasons some people may choose to build up a store cupboard gradually, whereas we are usually able to put money each month and do it all in one (or two, if we see any particularly good offers) shops every few months before our store is completely exhausted. I know that if I had to rely on public transport or my own two feet I would have to take a more gradual approach. The rest of these points I think remain true however. 

I have seen some passionate debates on forums about food storage and stockpiling - it seems more controversial in the UK than in the US or Australia. I don't understand why as we are the small island that gave the world the phrase '9 meals from anarchy' after the fuel protests of 2000. Some people see storing several months worth of food as alarmist, a symptom of mental illness and even downright immoral. To me it just seems like common sense - a hedge against personal laziness, inflation, unemployment, fuel protests, the wrong kind of snow on the roads or full blown zombie apocalypse.

The food parcel contained some oddities that I wouldn't normally bulk buy - I have about a year's worth of tinned sardines at our present rate of consumption, I haven't eaten corned beef since I was a student and finding a home for 10 bricks of coffee is going to be a challenge in our small kitchen (my hunch is they will end up under the bed), but we are very grateful for the help. We eat well from our pantry, supplemented by fresh produce bought in local shops within walking distance - and hopefully a little more homegrown from the allotment this year.

Personally I think a nation of well stocked cupboards is the way forward in these uncertain times - I would be interested to hear what you think?


Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekly Rhythms Which Help

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches


After a few weeks which left me feeling positively disheveled, I've been taking some time to commit to getting back into a rhythm which helps me lead a simple, green & frugal life even among the chaos of life! And for me, right now, those essential rhythms include...



















:: A weekly walk, preferably repeated each day ;)




















:: Homemade soup, perfect for a winter's eve - or for tackling summer allergies & sinuses



















:: Weekend cooking sessions so meals are healthy & simple during the week - this week roasted trout, brussel sprouts, cooked sweet potato, roasted lemony carrots and broccoli salad



















:: A few sessions with the needles - the perfect way to unwind

And when I take the time to incorporate a few little activities which help me lead a simpler life, I find that I'm learning an important lesson. A lesson in understanding no matter how busy, there is always a choice. A choice to rest, a choice to be in that moment, a choice to let go of the distractions and instead take a few minutes to focus, to be, to let go. And in that very moment - even if in the background there is noise and lists of things to do, I see the beautiful! And when I find that beautiful, even just a few minutes each day, it helps me set the tone for a relaxed and simple week.

What activities do you incorporate into your life which help you lead a simple, green or frugal life?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Account Balance is Low

When hunger dogs winter's heels, old traditions point your feet straight to the pantry, cellar, or whatever little hiding place you may have carved out. It's time to go in and spend your culinary savings account lavishly. You'll feel mighty clever!

Connie Green and Sarah Scott from The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

When I read this quote I smiled to myself. It was mid-winter and my basement pantry was stocked with all kinds of goodies. We had boxes of potatoes, onions and garlic. There were also rows of glass jars filled with all sorts of vegetables and fruits. Bright orange pumpkins and green squashes filled one corner of the dining room and the freezer was full of venison.

Basement Pantry

Figuring out how much you need to preserve to get through winter can be a little difficult at times. You don't want to end up with too much food come spring, but you don't want to run out before those first green shoots appear in the garden. You want to make sure your pantry savings account it low, but not completely empty!

Cleaning out the Pantry

This is the best time to think about the coming preservation season. Take a good long look at your pantry, what did you eat up quickly, what is still on the shelves not touched. Is there anything you won't be canning again? What will you can more of? Is there anything you can grow during the cold winter months to help supplement the pantry food so that you don't have to spend as much time in summer canning? Did you eat more dried fruit than canned fruit? Did you have enough garlic, potatoes, and onions? Did you run out of popcorn halfway through the winter?

A little time spent planning now can make your winter food savings account a little more balanced to your personal tastes and can make you feel mighty wealthy all winter long!

How do you decide how much and what to preserve each season? Has it changed throughout the years?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves and Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Layer in the Nutrition

by Chiot's Run

There are many simple steps you can take to layer extra nutrition and nourishment into your food. Spices and herbs are one of the best ways. Many people assume that they just add flavor and don't realize the nutritional value that they add to the foods that you eat. Most herbs and spices are very valuable in terms of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they contain. Consider cinnamon for example, it has a regulatory effect on blood sugar. It's not a coincidence that it's often paired with starchy foods like pancakes, french toast, oatmeal and bread. It's also a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. It can fight e-coli and inhibit bacterial growth in the food it's in.

Layering in Nutrition

Consider also cayenne pepper, which we add to most of the meals we eat. It adds vitamins A, C, B6, K, and manganese to your diet. It helps with digestion, helps relieves ulcer pain, and can rebuild stomach tissue. It boosts circulation and is said to help stop heart attacks. Whenever I'm sick I drink plenty of cayenne tea and it works wonders to break up congestion. Cayenne seems like a wonder spice when you read about it.

Homegrown Garlic, Rosemary & Lemon Thyme

Cinnamon and cayenne are not unique either, all spices and herbs are nutrition powerhouses. If you're not in the habit of adding lots of herbs and spices to your food, get a few books from the library or spend some time on-line reading up on the health benefits of various herbs and spices. You'll be amazed at the amount of vitamins and minerals you can add in and some wonderful flavor with it!

Do you add lots of herbs and spices to your foods for the health benefit?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Food Security

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

This is related to my recent post about an impending Food Crisis... Not a new topic by any means, but something that I feel is worth bringing to everyone's attention again right now.

The only two suggestions I offered to this global issue were to eat local (grow your own if you can) and eat less meat. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Our local LETS group has been running a series of Simply Living Workshops, and last weekend we hosted an afternoon to share methods of growing food. With a group of around 30 people we created salad boxes, no-dig beds and raised beds. These are just three basic styles of food gardens which have been explained here on the Co-op blog as well as numerous other places on the web. All gardening methods can be learned online, through books and magazines, and from your neighbours, family, friends or community organisations. But it's one thing to learn about a garden, and start a garden... Right now is the time to follow through. And after that garden is started, tend it like crazy! I am reminded of a term I first read here in a post by Throwback at Trapper Creek, "Garden like you can't go to the store." Wow! That really hit home to me. Imagine having to eat only from my garden from tomorrow, for a long time! What was once a hobby is looking more and more like a necessity.

Image from technabob

In response to the many comments I received on the Food Crisis post, I'd like to summarise...
  • Identify local sources of food and support these producers now. Don't wait until crisis hits and you need them.
  • Eating less mass-produced meat is one way to make the available food go further. It generally takes more than 10 kilograms of grain to raise 1kg of meat for our consumption. Pasture-fed and wild meat of course have much less impact.
  • Grow nutrient-dense foods, not just what you like to eat. Sure, plant what you like to eat, but make room for foods which I call 'survival foods'. Depending on your location and circumstances these could include, but would not be limited to: sprouts (indoors), high-protein leafy greens, perennial tubers, high-yielding beans to dry and berries. Reconsider edible "weeds" and local wild foods. Get (at least) a couple of chickens, if you can.
  • Stockpile basic food, but don't rely on a stockpile alone. And please invest in stockpiling basic grains/flour, oil, dried legumes etc before you stock up on snacks or any other luxuries. In the event of any emergency, it's pertinent to have non-electric ways to prepare these basic stockpiled ingredients... A manual grain mill, an alternative cooking method and appropriate pot, recipes, salt/herbs/spices, etc.
This is the way we live our lives, except for gardening like there is no store. And that's my mission for this season. We've been tackling a huge To Do List out in the garden after our recent cyclones and torrential rain, and we're looking forward to expanding upon our ever-faithful perennial plants over the coming weeks. For me, this is no longer about saving a few dollars, learning a new skill, getting some mental-health time or exercise...

Are you feeling like it's time for action? What Simple, Green or Frugal changes seem more urgent to you in this current situation? Is this reflected in your local community too?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food Crisis

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Plato said that society is "just a few meals away from babarism." And I guess it is more true in our modern age than ever before. Apparently, the British M15 use a 'four meals away from anarchy' scale to evaluate threats.

I typed 'food crisis 2011' into a search engine and got over 54 million results. Okay, so I don't watch or listen to much news, but I the last person to hear about this?

I don't really understand enough about the global food market, but
it seems like there are predictions of ramifications for all of us this time, not just those nations forced to import food or those having issues growing their own at the moment. It seems everything is so out of balance that the crisis will be felt globally. Usually, because we live in a wealthy country, we seem to just absorb the cost when grain prices double overnight (as rice did a couple of years ago, and wheat has before too). But what about when more than one crop is affected? And what about our neighbours?

It seems to me that there are several causes to consider:
Our government doesn't value the agricultural industry
A lot of our country's farms are foreign owned
Peak Oil
Climate Change (or a lot of bad weather, if you don't subscribe to the climate change theory)


And there are things we can all do:
Eat local - grow your own if you can
Eat less meat (or stick to grass-fed, wild and other, more sustainable, choices)

Food shortages have been an ongoing global issue for much of modern history. But I bet there wasn't over 54 million search engine results until 2011, when the majority of the western world is facing something most of us have only witnessed through the media to date...

How do you feel about the current food crisis situation? What are you doing personally to prepare? What about your local community - is simple, green, frugal catching on?

Further Reading:
Food Security
Local Food
Peak Oil
Climate Change
Transition Network

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saving money in the kitchen

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming

The spectre of food price inflation has reared its head once again in the last few months, which can be a daunting prospect for those managing already tight budgets. Most of us do not stand completely defenceless however. The kitchen is a place where an awful lot of fat can be trimmed, so to speak. In the process of writing this post I have begun to twig the full scope of this subject and the scale of the adjustments that we have made over time to cut our food budget down to size; this is a list of starting points that each warrant a post in themselves.

Over the last few years we have begun to:

Cook from scratch - using quality, nutrient dense raw ingredients. It is much cheaper to invest in some basic ingredients than processed foods. Processed foods may look cheap gram for gram, but they certainly won’t be in terms of nutritional value.

Stock a basic pantry – impulse food purchases often stem from feeling that you have nothing in for dinner, or that you fancy something sweet and toothsome. Making sure that your pantry includes ingredients to rustle up a quick meal or baked goodies will lessen the urge to go shopping. Your pantry will probably change with the seasons, but some basics will always stand you in good stead. Draw up a list of what you have now, what you use regularly and what seem to run out of most frequently; and plan your shopping from that.
 
Ask ‘Could I live without that?’ - Some people are born gourmets; but novelty doesn’t always come cheap. A food budget is a lot easier to manage if you can be creative with a few versatile staple ingredients and seasonings. Rosewater, whole tamarinds, dried apricots and bottled sour cherries are just some of the things that seemed like a good idea at the time but will never grace our shelves again. That said, a willingness to try new foods is a good thing, meaning that you can capitalise on special offers and gluts. If you are willing to try new flavours and textures you will be able to make the most of the food that comes your way. Now is the time to get over any food prejudices that you may have.

Plan meals – planning helps you to use food when it is freshest. It also allows you to make the most of leftovers; the remains of a Sunday roast can stretch to several meals through the week and a big pot of soup will cover a few lunches. Knowing which days you need to soak beans on, defrost meats, prepare packed lunches or buy fresh vegetables will save a lot of time and money. This is one area where I am disappointed with our progress, as when we have managed it for a week or more we have saved a lot of time and money.

Control portions – many people don’t know what a healthy portion of pasta or cheese or vegetables looks like and may consume far more than they need, or leave it on their plates. This can turn into quite an expensive (and unhealthy) habit.

Plan our shop – my own method is to ‘stockpile’ a few months worth of basics which we buy online (where I am less likely to impulse buy); and to buy perishables from local shops as we need them. The general advice to never shop on an empty stomach, to wise up to the marketing tactics of retailers and to stick to a shopping list is all golden, too.

Eat less meat – not necessarily give it up, unless you are that way inclined, but eat it less frequently. I have friends that barely go a meal without including meat (they feel that it wouldn't actually be a meal without it); an expensive rut to be stuck in. Learning to cook with pulses, tofu, dairy and eggs will lead to many satisfying, frugal meals.

'Bulk out' meals – adding lentils, grains or extra vegetables to meat dishes such as lasagne; and pairing expensive ingredients with complementary cheaper ones will stretch your resources further.

Learn how to store food – Everyone at one time or the other has let lettuce turn to mush at the bottom of the fridge or left half open packets of grain to attract mites. You do not need expensive kilner jars and Tupperware. Old food jars, plastic milk cartons, old crockery and ice cream tubs will all work fine. 
 
Watch our fuel consumption – some methods of cooking and food storage are fuel intensive. Cook one-pot dishes, or several foods in one pan, as much as possible. Lids, or even dinner plates balanced on top, save a lot of energy and mean  that you can use a lower flame. If you use the oven, fill it with several dishes to optimise energy use. The more adventurous might want to consider fuel-less cooking methods such as hay boxes and solar ovens, or eschewing electric 'labour savers' or even fridges altogether. In addition, consult your appliance manuals for optimizing energy usage. My own freezer apparently works best when stuffed full, but my fridge is better left with space for air to circulate.

There are thousands of resources out there on this topic, not least many of the kitchen and budgeting posts here at the Coop. One of the best UK sites on food waste, Love Food Hate Waste gives useful information on portion sizes, using leftovers and storing foods optimally. I suspect that most of the best information however will not be on the web, but in old home economics books from more austere eras, ready to be retrieved in the nick of time as domestic budgeting becomes an important skill once again. I know that readers here will have many hints, methods and reading lists of their own to share, so please leave a comment if you have something to add.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Preparing For The New Year - A Simple, Green & Frugal 2011

    By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

    Slowly but surely I find my confidence growing. I've blogged before about a little internal battle I faced, feeling like I wasn't ever going to succeed at the green or frugal life because I couldn't knit or sew and didn't have a homestead for my own chickens, bees and garden. In 2010 I finally understood the truth, there isn't one prescription for a simple, green and frugal life, in fact I imagine if there were it wouldn't be so simple!

    Looking back 2010 was the year I accomplish many changes in my life that were simple, green & frugal. 2010 was the year I semi learned to knit, I canned fresh produce (under expert instruction), I volunteered overseas, I learned how to make my own shampoo & conditioner and I began using re-useable toilet paper. It is only through recognition of the little changes I made in 2010 that I'm able to think about realistic yet optimistic goals for 2011.

    One of my main goals for 2011 is to drastically change how I eat. The plan is to have a whole foods year, nothing pre-packaged, everything ethically sourced and made from scratch. I hope 2011 is my vegan year, or at the very least 95% vegan with a bit of ethically sourced feta cheese from a local farmer. Yes, my name is Frugal Trenches and I have a slight addiction to feta cheese! ;-)

    My simple, green and frugal goals for 2011 are:
    1. Begin using a worm composter
    2. Volunteer to clean up a community garden or park
    3. Make my own soap
    4. Follow a 100 mile diet
    5. Veganism {or as near as possible!}
    6. Foster dogs or cats for the local animal shelter
    7. Take sewing classes
    8. Give up caffeine

    All are realistic and represent changes I feel I'm now ready for and looking forward to!

    Some may think it is a bit early to discuss goals and plans for the new year, but one thing I've learned on this journey is that I need a "settling in period", a time to adjust to change and get my head to follow my heart. So for the month of December I'm eating vegan 5-6 days a week and reducing my caffeine. On top of that I just found a sewing class which starts in January and while I'm not taking the path of insisting from January 1 I've made all these changes in full, I'm slowly getting there one simple, green and frugal step at a time.

    What are your plans for 2011? Do you set yourself & your family goals for the New Year that will help you in your simple, green and frugal journey?

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    House Cow FAQs

    Posted by Bel
    From Spiral Garden

    Also posted on Home Grown

    It's been over a year since we first got a house cow, and we've learned a lot along the way. Here are some of the most common questions people ask us, and our replies. We are rather unconventional in the way we manage our home dairy, and I encourage cow owners to seek out information most suitable to their animal before following our example.


    How do you tame a cow from a commercial dairy?

    This was harder than I expected. Lucy was very frightened and stressed about being away from her herd. At first we had to use fences and ropes to get her to co-operate because it was important that a) we fully milked her at least once a day and b) the calf we also brought home (not hers) got milk. After the initial rough days, Lucy would lead on a halter (the show type with a small chain under the chin). From there we brushed her, spoke kindly to her and got her used to a routine - dry food with minerals and molasses, same time of day, same people around, same calls and commands... Within months Lucy would come when called and take herself into the milking shed at least some of the time. She didn't kick or otherwise carry on for us.

    Where do you get the foster calves from?

    Our foster calves are calves from a nearby dairy which are excess to their needs. In commercial dairies, male calves are often killed at birth, or they are raised to sell for veal. Some female calves are not kept as replacement heifers because they might be the wrong bloodline or colour, or they aren't a strong animal. If a dairy runs about 200 cows who each 'work' for several years, and each cow has a calf per annum (the usual way in commercial dairying), and half these calves are female - the dairy can't use 100 replacement heifers each year. And so there are often perfectly lovely little heifer calves available for a low cost in dairying regions. And that is how we got Honey and Poppy! We use the term 'foster calf' to describe a calf raised on its own mother for a couple of weeks, who then comes to our farm to drink milk from Lucy until weaning age.


    Do you really milk by hand?

    Yes! I got a quick lesson from a friend who hand-milks, and a few tips from others who have milked by hand in the past, and within a couple of days had mastered the art! I find milking by hand is relaxing for the cow and I, and it ensures that no damage is done to the udder or teats during milking. Also, milking machinery isn't cheap!

    Does owning a cow take a lot of time?

    When I'm milking, or monitoring foster calves closely, the cows take me about an hour to an hour and a half each day. That is to feed, water, clean, milk, check the animals over, move them to other paddocks, and so on. To some, that may seem like a lot of time, but it is my exercise and 'hobby', and provides our family with milk. When I am not milking or required for so much hands-on work, I only need to check the cattle and their water once each day.


    What do you do with the excess milk?

    Excess milk has usually gone to foster calves at our place - I only milked out what we could use, and trusted the calves to take care of the rest! Currently, we don't have any calves on Lucy so with excess milk I make yoghurt, kefir, custard, soft cheese and so on. I also give milk to our animals sometimes, who seem to like it and digest it well.

    Doesn't milk have to be pastuerised to make it safe?

    After reading information from the Weston Price Foundation and Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, we decided that the benefits of raw milk outweigh any small risk of contamination, for us. Also, because we control the health and hygiene of our cow and home-dairy facilities, we are confident that the raw milk we're drinking is a quality product.

    How do you treat health problems in your herd?

    We have been blessed to not have many health problems to date in our herd. We follow the advice of Pat Coleby who has excellent resources for farmers regarding minerals and nutritional supplements. We believe that this prevention is worth the investment of time and money. For buffalo fly, worms and ticks, all common pests in our area, we have tried Neem oil, and a specific mix of essential oils as well as supplementing their diet with specific minerals including diatomaceous earth. For behavioural issues we have used homeopathy and herbal treatments. We are not totally against conventional treatments and will use them if the health or comfort of our animals are at stake.

    I hope this interests those of you curious about having a house cow, or looking into having your own cow sometime. I highly recommend the following resources:

    Weston A Price
    Sally Fallon- Nourishing Traditions
    Keeping a Family Cow Forums
    EnviroNeem
    Natural Cattle Care by Pat Coleby
    The Healthy House Cow by Patricia van den Berg
    The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsly

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Buying Organic

    Posted by Bel
    from Spiral Garden

    Ideally, we would produce almost all of our own food, but in reality, we're still buying grocery items and some produce each week to feed our family. There's a whole checklist of criteria when shopping for the family - local, organic, less-packaging, no additives... Never before has something as basic as feeding the family required so much research and thought.

    Certified Organic grocery items – food, home and personal care items – do not contain residue of the harmful chemicals that the EPA considers to be carcinogens (60% of all herbicides, 90% of all fungicides and 30% of all insecticide). These chemicals are designed to kill living organisms. In humans, they are implicated in cancers, birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutations. Not only are our families at risk, but our country’s farmers, their families, their neighbours and all living creatures around farms are also at risk.

    Certified Organic products are not only made without the use of synthetic chemicals and irradiation, they are also GMO-free and don’t contain harmful preservatives or artificial ingredients. Children are particularly at risk from these residues, processes and additives because the levels of safety are set at an adult level. A study of young children in New York showed that those who didn’t eat organic food had over 300 different chemicals in their urine. Those who did eat organic had about 12. It’s what’s missing from Certified Organic products that make them good for you.

    Our bodies absorb significant amounts of what we put on our skin, in our hair, and brush our teeth with, etc. It is estimated that the average Australian adult is exposed to 126 chemicals through their personal care products, every day. If you are concerned about the chemicals your family are absorbing through their skin, you can reduce the number of products you purchase, opting instead for a few old-fashioned basic options, and you can also seek out Certified Organic products through your supermarket, pharmacy or local health stores. After switching to more natural alternatives for awhile, most people find that the highly scented, chemical-laden products no longer appeal to them.

    Australia’s organic industry is regulated the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). Professional Certification bodies are responsible for certifying products as organic or biodynamic. Look for the certification logos on organic grocery items to know that growers and producers have fulfilled the stringent certification requirements. Imported products will also carry Certified Organic logos recognised by their own country and approved by AQIS.

    It is legal in Australia for products to carry a brand name or description “Organic” without actually being a certified product or even in any way more natural or less harmful than other products on the shelf. In the case of a bottle of shampoo, for one example, a tiny percentage of its ingredients may be botanically derived, yet the label can legally imply that the shampoo inside is “natural, organic, herbal, botanical”. The only way to tell if you’re eating or using a certified organic product is to a) grow or make it yourself from 100% Organic ingredients or b) look for the AQIS-approved logo on the packaging. There is a push for truth within labelling, and it is expected that the use of the term “Organic” will be more limited on Australian products in the future.

    Buying organic is also a blessing for the environment. Industrial farming uses more fossil fuel than organic farming because the energy required to produce artificial fertilisers and other chemicals outweighs that used in tilling, cultivating, harvesting crops and transporting and refrigerating products. Organic farming prevents soil erosion, promotes biodiversity and keeps water clean. In practice, it nourishes the soil, which nourishes the plants and animals that nourish our bodies. Simple.

    A lot of families would love to buy Certified Organic, but believe that the cost is prohibitive. Buying organic allows us to support a true economy. Conventional grocery prices don’t reflect hidden costs borne by taxpayers, including federal subsidies. Other hidden costs include pesticide regulation and testing, hazardous waste disposal and clean-up, and environmental damage. Isn’t it easier to spend our dollars doing things the right way, and avoid those hidden costs?

    Our family also finds that a lot of organic food is more nutrient-dense and therefore we eat less of it. One example is a 375g pack of Organic Wholemeal Spelt Pasta. Our children enjoy this pasta because it actually has substance and flavour, and in our large family, this small packet goes a lot further than a 500g packet of white wheat pasta from the supermarket. It is true that I will pay more than twice as much for the organic product, but for me, the numerous benefits outweigh the extra cost.
    There are various lists suggesting the items to buy organic, here is one example of six important food products from a large Australian supplier Organic Oz:

    1. Apples
    2. Bread
    3. Carrots
    4. Baby food
    5. Dairy food
    6. Rice

    Of course there are the other issues of food miles, additives, packaging and so on. How important is it to you that your food and other grocery products are Organic? Do you find labeling confusing? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts and experiences.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Loving the Seasonal Life

    by Chiot's Run

    As I strive to eat more seasonally I find myself enjoying each item more than I ever have. I've always loved strawberries, and usually we consumed them mostly during their season, but I'd occasionally buy them at the grocery. They were never as good though, a shell of what a sun ripened strawberry picked in the back yard or at a local farm is. No doubt because they were grown thousands of miles away, trucked to a supermarket near me then purchased by me a week or so after they were picked green.



    Now that I'm focusing on eating seasonally I know that the fresh strawberries I'm eating now are the only ones I'll get until next June, save for a few I freeze. That makes me enjoy them all the more. My favorite way to eat strawberries: on shortcake. And not those spongy too sweet round cake discs, I make a lightly sweetened biscuit flecked with crystallized ginger. We crumble the biscuit in a bowl, top with freshly sliced strawberries and pour some fresh raw milk on top. You just can't beat that as a deliciously fresh seasonal summer meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    What's your favorite "in season" food at the moment?

    I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Thinking About Winter Already

    by: Chiot's Run
    The gardens here at Chiot's Run are full of all kinds of herbs for use in cooking. At the moment, I'm really enjoying using fresh chives, lemon balm, mint, bergamot, oregano and other herbs in my food and beverages.

    I'm also thinking about this winter when the garden will be sleeping under a blanket of snow and I'm stocking my pantry with dried herbs from the garden for both cooking and tea. Timing is important when you want to dry herbs for your pantry. If you pick herbs at the wrong time they're not as flavorful. You want to harvest herbs before they start blooming for optimum flavor. You also want to harvest them in the morning right after the dew has evaporated. If you want to harvest herb flowers, like chamomile, you want to pick them when they first open, don't wait until they're fading. I usually dry my herbs in our warm attic or I hang them in the kitchen. I find that they dry fairly quickly without having to use a dehydrator. This saves me on my electric bill.

    Growing herbs for your kitchen is a great way to add extra nutrition to your food. Herbs often contain more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Adding lots of herbs and spices to your foods layers in even more healthfulness. So add some herbs to your gardens and make sure you harvest them to stock you pantry.

    Do you grow any herbs in your gardens? Do you dry them for the pantry?

    I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal and you can follow me on Twitter.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Spring Cleaning the Pantry

    by: Chiot's Run

    Spring cleaning not only applies to the house, but also to the pantry! This is the time of year when I start to make a concerted effort to eat up goods the goods I preserved last summer. Soon enough I'll be pulling out the canning pots and filing jars with this summer's bounty and packing the freezer with fresh berries. This means I must start preparing now. The last thing I want is to end up with jar and jars of stuff from years past and have to throw some of it away. I'm not one to waste food, especially food that I spent time and energy growing and preserving.



    This is the perfect time of year to start using up pantry goods. With the coming of warmer weather comes the feeling of optimism. I no longer feel the need to conserve my food resources to make sure they last through the long winter. Those feelings give way to the hope of summer bounty and I finally feel safe eating up the last few jars of tomatoes. I know that in a few months, my tiny tomato seedlings will be producing pounds of fresh summer fruit that will be eaten fresh and canned for next winter.



    I find myself often in the pantry looking over jars of goods deciding what I want to make for dinner. If I spot a few jars of tomatoes, pepper relish, fire roasted red & jalapeno pepper, and a few jars of chutney, I'll make a big pot of chili. From the freezer I'll add some ground venison, beef stock and some frozen beet greens or spinach. If I'm lucky I'll have a bottle of beer as well to add for good measure. A few heirloom beans will also get added to the pot if there are any left in the pantry. If we have some frozen milk left from our winter stores, I'll make some fresh mozzarella, and who doesn't love a sprinkling of fresh spring chives on top of any dish this time of year?



    If I find myself with a lot of extra tomatoes, I'll make up a big batch of marinara. This will top fresh homemade pasta, or even a pan of lasagna if I have the time and energy to make cheese and noodles.



    Not only do all these dishes help clean out the pantry of last year's bounty and make way for the new, they help save me time during this busy season in the garden. A big batch of of chili can be eaten on for many days as can a big pan of lasagna (and they get better with age). If I make an extra big batch I'll freeze it in meal sized portions for quick meals during the busy days of spring and early summer. My goal is to have most of the jars in the pantry empty by tomato canning season and to have most of the berries eaten from the freezer before the strawberries come on.

    Do you make a concerted effort to eat up items in your pantry to make way for the new season's bounty?

    I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    The Ceremony of Making Bread

    by: Chiot's Run

    .. no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation ... will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.
    --M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating




    I love making bread. It's one of the first things I started making from scratch and it's so worth it. I was pretty young when I started my baking career. I remember making bagels and other delicious bread with my mom when I was in jr high. I've been baking ever since. I mostly focus on breads since I don't have much of a sweet tooth. There's just something about homemade bread, it tastes so much better than store bought, it saves money, and it provides a connection with the past.



    When I first started making bread I make traditional recipes made with fresh yeast. After mastering those recipes I decided to tackle artisan breads using the delayed fermentation method from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. When I'd learned to make delicious artisan bread, I started learning more about grains and starting grinding my own grain for baking. I then turned my attention to learning to make sourdough breads. The thought of using wild yeast was fascinating to me. Not only are sourdough breads tasty and delicious, but they're much healthier as well.



    I find making bread enjoyable and deeply satisfying on a basic level. Perhaps it's being able to make something delicious for my family. Or the wonder of mixing flour with yeast and water and kneading it into a delicious loaf. Maybe our emotions are nourished as well as our bodies when we form a hands on connection with what we eat. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I know that it's something I'll be doing for the rest of my life.

    Do you have an activity you do that is deeply satisfying to your soul?

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Maple Sugaring at Chiot's Run

    by Chiots Run

    Last year we sugared our maple trees for the first time. I would have done it earlier, but I always thought you needed sugar maples to make syrup - not so. We have a back yard full of red maples. They have less sugar in the sap so it takes a little more sap, and the final product can be cloudy, but it still tastes as delicious as syrup from sugar maples. We also started late in the season, so we only got a few days of sugaring in before the trees budded out. We ended the season with a two pints of syrup and a passion for sugaring!



    This year we started the season early by ordering more spiles and brushing up on our skills by reading a few books before the season started. If you're interested in sugaring your maples I'd recommend reading: Backyard Sugarin': A Complete How-To Guide or Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup or this article from the Ohio State University Extension. These are all geared towards small scale home sugaring operations, explaining how to do it without spending much money.



    We tapped our trees on February 21 this year. It was a beautiful sunny day and the temperatures climbed slightly above freezing. Not quite prime sugaring season yet, but we wanted to get some of our trees tapped since tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be close to 40. We were just going to put one tap in the tree we can see from the kitchen window, so we could watch it. When it started flowing we would install the rest of the taps. As soon as we tapped the tree a little drop of sap appeared on the end of the spile. It was warm enough yesterday to start the sap flowing.



    Since the sap was flowing we put in all 12 taps that we had on hand, then a few days later we added 10 more taps. The first day, the taps produced about a gallon of sap by dusk. We stored the sap outside in a few huge canning kettles to keep it cold so it wouldn't spoil. The weather was not great for a few days, but then at the beginning of March it started warming up during the day producing good sap flow. It was sunny and warm during the day (well 40 degrees which is warm this time of year).



    The mornings were frosty, with temps down in the teens. All the sap that was flowing the day before stopped and was frozen in the spiles. It didn’t take long for them to thaw out with the sun and warmth and start flowing again. These are prime sugaring temps; you want it to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.



    With the sap flowing nicely, we started boiling constantly to keep up. We averaged 7 gallons of sap per day from our 20 taps. Mr Chiots collected the sap several times a day. Since we're using mason jars they're not that big and need emptied several times a day. We use them since that's what we have on hand and I'm not a big fan of my food touching any plastic.



    After collecting the sap, it's brought inside to warm up a bit. I strain it through a coffee filter into a big stock pot on the stove, this strains out any wood chips, sticks and any other dirt. We warm the sap in this stock pot and when it’s boiling we transfer it to big kettle that’s boiling outside (or another kettle on the stove). We do this to keep the big pot at a rolling boil, if you keep pouring cold sap into the boiling sap it will take longer to reduce into syrup.



    After boiling it down and finishing it off, we strain it through a few layers of cheesecloth and we have delicious homemade maple syrup. (read through one of the books listed above for info on finishing syrup, need to be at a certain temp).



    Our sugaring season is over for 2010, it was a short one. We ended up with over a gallon of syrup. Sugaring is a fun relaxing hobby. We've really enjoyed the process and will continue doing it for years to come. There's something so satisfying about making your own maple syrup!



    You can see the two different colors of syrup we got from our two batches. It’s so delicious, hard to believe we made it at home. One thing is for certain, not a drop of this will go to waste! When you take such a hands on approach to making your own food you really appreciate it because you know the effort that goes into it.


    Anyone of you sugaring your maples, birch, or shagbark hickory trees?


    for more photos & explanation of our sugaring process check out my posts on my blog:

    Tap, Tap, Tap, Maple Sap


    Prime Sugaring Weather

    Finishing Off our Maple Syrup