Monday, 30 November 2009

One pumpkin fits all

by Francesca

heirloom pumpkin
Early in October I harvested our one pumpkin. I chronicled the strange case of the heirloom pumpkin in my blog, explaining how we unexpectedly happened to grow it. Since then, I’ve learned from a reader that our large pumpkin is a Heirloom Neck Pumpkin.

This was one of the most effortless crops I’ve ever grown. I transplanted it in early July, watered it, and then just let it grow. It crawled slowly across and out of our garden, and eventually produced its single fruit. My €0.25 transplant produced a heirloom pumpkin which weighed 10.5 kilos, and provided the main ingredient of 4 dishes, which served a total of about 30 people.
halved heirloom pumpkin

Here’s how we used it:

~ Pumpkin soup ~
heirloom pumpkin soup ingredients
With barley, red lentils, cabbage, onion, garlic, dry(ing) peppers, dried sage and rosemary. I made a very large pot of it, enough for two meals for our family: a nice thick vegetable soup is most welcome on cold fall evenings.

~ Skillet-roasted pumpkin ~
roasted pumpkin
With fresh rosemary and garlic.

~ Stuffed pumpkin with sage-infused rice ~
heirloom pumpkin halved
stuffed pumpkin
I first boiled black and brown rice, adding six large sage leaves to the water. Then I mixed in cubed pecorino cheese, and used this mixture to fill the part of the pumpkin where the seeds are, which I’d split in half and scooped out. I set these filled bowls in the oven and baked them.

(I made this dish and the pie below for a dinner with friends: they served 10 people!)

~ Pumpkin pie ~
pumpkin pie
With Marsala sweet wine, pine nuts and raisins.
pumpkin seeds

So a single vegetable that grew from a €0.25 transplant yielded a surprising range of dishes. I even got a tasty snack out of it, because of course I saved the pumpkin seeds, sprinkled them with salt, and popped them into the oven to roast while the rice was baking.

What other wonder vegetables have you come across? Vegetables that are easy to grow, are abundant and can be used in a variety of dishes, savory and sweet?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Organizing a Garden

by Lynn of Viggies Veggies

Seed catalogs are rolling in for next season and I face the daunting task of planning a full sized garden with 54 varieties for the first time. Since I had no idea how much I needed to plant with the goal of supplying all of my produce in mind, I started out by reading The Backyard Homestead. They have a nice chart of suggested vegetables and how much to plant to feed one. I modified this a bit to suit my tastes and add a few fun items to try and will track when I run out of preserved food next year so I can adjust again to what I actually eat.

future garden plans

Next I turned to measuring my yard and planning the new beds. I used spacing guides from the book to divide my space into planting areas. The extra space was used to fit in herbs and edible flowers to use the space as productively as possible. I started this part just early enough that I was able to dig up the sod from all the new beds already this fall.

first batch of seeds

Then came the fun part. Pouring over websites and seed catalogs to pick the best sounding varieties. I'm feeding one so I went with some smaller fruited items like icebox watermelon to avoid waste. I also picked varieties like Siberian Tomatoes that are more cold hardy than necessary so I can work on extending the harvest even further next year.

planting chart

Finally, not wanting to be caught unprepared when it came time to plant I made a list and added each seed to it as it arrived. This contains all the vital information for planting and seed starting, including little calculations to help me know exactly when to start plants indoors and when each item can be moved outdoors. Now I'm busy saving containers I come across so I won't need to buy any fancy seed starting trays come spring.

How do you think I did? Is there anything special you do to prepare for spring?

Make Your Own Almond Milk

by Amy of

My mother-in-law, who eats nearly a 100% raw diet, showed me how to make almond milk when they were visiting us in Maine. It turns out to be quite a simple process. I make it once or twice a week now. It's so much richer and creamier than the stuff you buy at the store, and of course, still has all its good enzymes because it's raw. And somehow, things you make yourself just taste that much more delicious!

Here's how it goes:

Soak 1 cup almonds for 8hrs or overnight.

Rinse well.

Add 4 cups water, 1/4tsp salt, 1/2tsp vanilla and a spoonful of honey.

Blend really well.

Strain through nut milk bag (you can make one out of organza).

Squeeze out the last drops (you can use the leftover almond pulp in bread).


Friday, 27 November 2009

Lemon Balm for Cold Sores

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
It's cold and flu season here. I usually stay pretty healthy, but one of my first warnings that I might have picked up a virus is getting a cold sore. Monday afternoon, while I was out working in the garden (too much sun can also be a trigger), I could feel the beginnings of a tender spot just inside my lip. I don't have time to be sick (does anyone? stress can also be a trigger). So I took quick action to stop the virus in its tracks. Lemon balm to the rescue!

Cold sores, herpes outbreaks, and shingles are all caused by the same virus family, and lemon balm is a great anti-viral herb. Lemon balm is an easy-to-grow perennial, a member of the mint family. It returns every year in my herb garden. It makes a nice summer tea, but I cut and dry most of it for winter use.

Whenever I feel the start of a cold sore inside my lip, I boil up a really strong detoction of equal amounts of dried lemon balm and water. Monday evening, I boiled together half-cup water with a handful of dried lemon balm for about 10 minutes. After it cooled, I strained it, soaked a cotton ball in the dark brown liquid, and held it inside my lip for a few minutes. After reapplying the soaked cotton ball a few times through the evening, I diluted what was left with a cup of water, heated it in the microwave, added a spoonful of honey (also an anti-viral and anti-bacterial), and drank the tea before bedtime. Lemon balm is also a calming and relaxing herb, helping to lower stress levels, so it makes a nice warming bedtime tea anytime. By morning, the cold sore was gone.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gift Tags From Fabric Scraps

by Kate
Living The Frugal Life

I'm not really much of a crafter. I don't spend much time accessorizing my house, and I don't like to spend money unless there's really a good reason. But. I also don't like to waste things, so I put effort into finding a use for things that most people would consider scrap or garbage.

During my recent sewing competence project, my sewing mentor encouraged me to tear the edges of the fabric I had purchased in order to start with more or less straight edges. This just about killed me as it both made my gift wraps smaller and produced small pieces of fabric that weren't going to be good for much of anything. Still, I went along with her meticulous approach to sewing, fully aware that she was teaching me the proper way of doing things. But I couldn't bear to throw away the scraps, so she sent me home with a small bag of narrow remnants, including some of hers which she otherwise would have thrown away.

I decided to find some use for the scrap pieces. Some of the really narrow pieces I think I will use to bind up bundles of herbs or flowers for drying. They'll look nice hanging from the beam in our dining room. But the scraps that are about an inch wide, I'm using to make decorative gift tags. Since they're made out of some of the same fabrics that went into the gift wraps, I will have gift tags to match, if I wish. Or I could mix and match swatches as suits my mood.

All I needed for this project was a piece of cardstock, the fabric scraps, scissors, a piece of paper (in a contrasting color) to write on, and some glue to assemble all the elements. When the gift tags were done I used an office hole punch to make a hole in each one. It took very little time to assemble a large assortment of these tags. If I were being really, really green I would put the gift recipient's name on the tag in pencil, so that it could be erased and the tag re-used.

If you pursue sewing projects, or know someone who does, perhaps you can use this idea to personalize your holiday gifts this year, and prevent waste at the same time.

What creative uses have you found for fabric scraps or other waste materials?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you formally celebrate Thanksgiving at your home or not, I hope you will spend a moment to yourself today. Let yourself be happy for all that you have, and also for all that you give.

Each of us is in our own way positive influence on this world.
As always, thank you for reading - and for doing all that you do!

With Much Love~
Melinda, One Green Generation

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Making Sauerkraut for New Years

by Chiot's Run

Several years ago I started making sauerkraut for New Year's Day. We've been eating sauerkraut on New Year's Day since I can remember. We used to go out to my grandma's house and she would have a big roaster full of sauerkraut, sausage and dumplings. When my grandma died my dad took over. He developed his own special recipe, changing it each year to make it better. It's not your typical kraut recipe, it includes carrots, apples, tomatoes and all kinds of delicious goodness. For a few photos of my dad cooking on New Year's and the recipe see this post.

Making Sauerkraut for New Year's

Sauerkraut that ferments at cooler temperatures - 65 or lower - has the best flavor, color and vitamin C content. The fermentation process takes longer at these temperatures, around 4-6 weeks. That's probably why it's traditionally made in the fall. Looks like I'm making mine at the right time, it should be ready in December and waiting in the fridge for New Years!

Adding Salt for Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut is quite easy all you need is cabbage (red or green), salt, and time (3 T of salt for every 5 lbs of cabbage). First you slice up the cabbage as thinly as you'd like, I usually do some really thin and some thick for variety. Then you put some sliced cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle salt over it, then smash with a wooden spoon or potato masher and mix. Continue adding cabbage and salt and mixing and smashing until the bowl is half full.

Making Sauerkraut for New Year's

When the bowl is about half full I let it sit for 10-15 minutes to let the cabbage wilt a little. This makes it easier to stuff into the glass jar I'm using as a fermenting crock. Transfer the cabbage to the jar, smash it down and continue working until all the cabbage is salted, smashed and packed into the jar. Let the cabbage sit overnight, if the brine hasn't covered the cabbage make some brine (1.5 T of salt to 1 quart of water) and pour over the cabbage. Next you weigh the cabbage down to keep it submerged below the brine. Some people use a Ziploc bag filled with brine, I use a canning jar to weigh down the cabbage because I'm not comfortable using plastic. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks until it stops bubbling and it tastes like sauerkraut. Make sure you check the kraut every couple days and add brine if the level goes down. Skim any scum that forms on the top. I typically end up adding some several times during fermentation. After 4-6 weeks (or less if it's warmer) you'll have kraut (taste to see if it's done). You really can't get much simpler. When it's finished store in the fridge and enjoy whenever you want. You can enjoy cold as is or cook it in recipes.

Brine Forming

When I was making this I thought about all the women in past generations of my family that spent time each fall making sauerkraut for New Year's. Connecting with our food heritage is such a wonderful thing. Hopefully our nieces & nephew will grow up with fond memories of eating Grandpa's Famous Sauerkraut on New Year's and continue the tradition with their families.

Making Sauerkraut for New Year's

Do you have a specific food or menu that has been passed down through the generations of your family?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Three Pies for the Holidays

Posted by Thomas, from A Growing Tradition Blog

Pie 3
The Egyptians may have invented pie in 2000 B.C., but it wasn't until a couple hundred years ago that Americans began transforming this culinary wonder into an art form (no offense to my British friends). A lot has changed since the first pilgrims landed in the new world, but our passion for pie has remained constant, which is why to this day no American Thanksgiving feast would be complete without one (or 10). And with the holidays fast approaching, I thought I'd share three traditional fruit pie recipes that I like to make this time of year.

Pie Dough
It's true what they say, a good pie recipe starts with a great crust. Here is one that has never let me down:

Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2/3 stick of unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
3/4 cup of vegetable shortening (chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 cup of ice water

In a large shallow bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Using a pastry cutter/fork, incorporate the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (you should still have rather large bits of butter and shortening when you're done). Slowly drizzle in the ice water and mix with a wooden spoon. Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface, and fold it together using your hands. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap each in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Traditional Apple Pie Filling Recipe- (No American Thanksgiving holiday would be complete without at least one apple pie. I have tested and tweaked many apple pie filling recipes over the years and this happens to be my personal favorite.)

7 large firm apples pealed, pitted and sliced (for a more interesting pie, I use 4 Granny Smith and 3 Fugi apples)
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of apples)
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pie 1
Pie 2
Autumn Fruit Pie Filling Recipe (The best version of this pie is the local one. I tend to make this pie in late-August to mid-September when all of these fruits are available at our farmers markets here in New England. However, I will freeze some local peaches and wild Maine blueberries in order to make this pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

2 large peaches pealed, pitted and sliced
2 large pears pealed, cored and sliced
3 large apples pealed, cored and sliced
1 cup of blueberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 to 3/4 cup of sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of corn starch
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
grated zest of 1 small orange

Wild Blueberry Pie Filling Recipe (Fresh wild blueberries are available here in New England during the month of August. I tend to freeze a good amount of blueberries during this time for use throughout the holiday season.)

5 cups wild blueberries (fresh or thawed-frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Pie 4
Directions for all three filling recipes:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until the sugar and cornstarch (or flour) are thoroughly distributed. Remove the dough one at a time from the refrigerator and roll each into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lay the first crust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan and fill with the fruit mixture. Dot the top with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Beat together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk and brush the edges of the crust with some of this mixture. Place the second crust on top and lightly press along the edge of the pie pan to seal the two layers. Cut the edges of the crusts to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the pie pan and then fold the edge of the top crust over and under the edge of the bottom crust, pressing lightly as you do so. Cut 3 slits onto the top crust (to vent steam), brush with more egg mixture and sprinkle some sugar on top. Bake at 425 degrees F for the first 30 minutes, then lower to 350 for another 25-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the pie pierces fruit that is cooked yet still slightly firm (except for the blueberry pie). Cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

Update** For those of you who do not reside in the United States, a stick of butter measures 1/2 cup. Sorry for the confusion and happy pie making! Please see comments for more details.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Demystifying Soap Making for Beginners

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Hi everyone!

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself today because this weekend I made soap from scratch for the first time!

Soap making from scratch has always felt very daunting to me. Simply because it just sounds complicated.

Firstly, one doesn't measure but weighs. So rather than the usual 1 cup of (say) olive oil, one has to weigh the ingredients.

Secondly, almost every instruction out there seems to be full of caution about the use of caustic soda. I had half convinced myself that if handled incorrectly, it would explode.

And finally, there seems to be a huge emphasis on being precise. (And once again, I somehow got the impression that by being imprecise, then the whole thing could explode.)

All of the above combined can be very daunting for a newbie like me and prevented me from trying it out. Instead, during my no buying brand-new year, I made my existing soap supplies last longer by adding oats. (Instructions for this can be found here.) Much later on, I bartered for homemade soap in exchange for some sewing repairs.

All this is very well and good - indeed, by adding oats or by bartering, I managed to last 3 years of not buying soap and only using homemade soaps. However, after a little bit of encouragement, a friend of mine finally convinced me that I *can* make soap from scratch.

So here's a little thing about demystifying soap making.

Firstly - the weighing thing. My friend brought over her kitchen scales and we weighed our ingredients that way. It is a little different from baking or cooking but not that hard.

You need two medium to large saucepans - one to make lye water and another one to mix oils.

To make lye water

Lye water is just water and caustic soda. I poured 330 grams of cold water into the saucepan and took the saucepan outside. I then slowly poured 130 grams of caustic soda.

Now to demistify, the caustic soda.... I had forgotten that I actually have handled this in the past - to clean drains! We bought caustic soda from the local grocery shop (Woolworths) in the cleaning section. Caustic soda can be dangerous - but no more dangerous than handling any very harsh cleaning product. The soda is not a fine powder - it actually has the consistency of rock salt.

When you first pour the caustic soda in the water, nothing seems to happen. As I stirred the mixture (using a plastic spatula), I noticed that as the caustic soda slowly dissolved, the saucepan and spatula got hotter. Not burningly hot (mind you, I didn't put my hand in it) but the saucepan was noticeably hot to touch (think of toast when it first pops out of the oven - that hot).

As it dissolved, it also gave off a chemical burning smell. It was a good thing I was outside! The smell only lasted a minute though. Once the caustic soda has dissolved, then the smell pretty much disappeared.

And once its dissolved, then that's it! You have lye water. Set the saucepan aside.

To blend the oils

In the other saucepan, we mixed together 300g of macadamia oil, 400g olive oil and 200g of avocado oil. (Reminder - like the lye water, weigh the oils - do not use the measurements). We heated this mixture up on low heat for about 5 mins.

Turn the heat off and make yourselves a cup of coffee (or beverage of your choice).

The purpose of this step is to make sure that the lye water and the oils are the same temperature. Our instructions said both mixtures should be between 30-40 degrees celsius (86-104 degrees Farenheit).

Now we started off using the thermometer but in the end, we just used our hands (not directly into the lye mixture of course! just touched the outside of the saucepan).

Once we felt that the mixtures were about the same temperature, we poured the oil into the lye water. Note that the recipe said to pour the lye water into the oil mixure BUT we thought using the larger saucepan (the one that the lye water was in) was the better way to go.

Mix lye water and oil mixture

Next we used a bamix (stick blender) to blend the lye water and oil mixture.

As we mixed, the lye water and oil mixture started to bond. When the consistency turned into that of whipping cream, we added our essential oils.

Here we didn't measure as precisely. We added about 15 mls of sandlewood oil and 10 drops of tea tree oil.

When the mixture's consistency was that of a light custard, we stopped mixing and poured the soap into molds.

We covered the mold in a plastic wrap and stored it in a cool dry place. We now need to let the mixture sit for 24 to 36 hours.

This is a photo of mine after 7 hours (it was already hard to touch on the outside):

The full recipe with additional notes are here:

So there you go - no explosions and best of all, I realised how easy it actually was. Really, soap making is just 4 steps....and one of those steps involved sitting down and having a chat over coffee!

Anyway, I'm sure my first batch of soap won't be perfect (after all, we started off being precise but kinda went downhill after that) but I'm hoping that it will do the job!

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Double Duty Rolls

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

With holiday meals looming in the not so distant future, I thought it would be a good time to share my go-to, no-knead roll dough recipe. It's a basic yeast roll dough recipe that is refrigerated, and doesn't need too much attention. And that really fits the bill when you have multiple dishes to prepare and need to get as much prep work done as possible. Also, these rolls can be made ahead so that valuable oven space can be used to your advantage. I don't freeze baked goods but I think these rolls would lend themselves to freezing very well.

Another trick is to use this basic roll dough for dinner rolls, and dessert rolls. You can kill two birds with one stone, and impress your guests too. For this batch I divided the dough and made dinner rolls with pesto and pumpkin seeds, and breakfast rolls with cranberries and walnuts.

I am not going to say that this is the healthiest recipe - it contains white flour and sugar, but sometimes alleviating stress at the holidays trumps sticking to a Nourishing Traditions type diet at the big meal, and I think the ease of this dinner roll making method makes it a winner in that regard.

I live near Bob's Red Mill, but I still only make two trips out there per year. So I buy my yeast in bulk and freeze it. I always proof my yeast before starting any baking project, just so I know it is still active. Add a pinch of sugar to get the yeast working. If it doesn't foam, your yeast may too old, or your water temperature is too cold or too hot. Normally, I pay closer attention and don't let it run over!

This recipe calls for 3 large eggs, but my pullets are still laying medium size eggs, so I threw in a double yolker for good measure.

Beat eggs, add proofed yeast mixture and mix well.

Add half of the flour, melted butter, sugar and salt with remaining water, mix well, then add remaining half of flour to make soft dough.

This dough will remain sticky and wet looking - but remember it is a no-knead recipe, so no worries.

Set to rise in a warm place.

When dough has doubled in bulk, approximately 1 hour or so. Punch down, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours to allow for the dough to rest. The daytime is fine too, just make sure you give the dough adequate rest.

The next morning (or whenever you get back to it) punch down the dough and divide in half. On a floured board, roll out two approximately 8" x 15" rectangles. When I make both sweet and savory rolls, I do the sweet first, and follow with the savory. A little sweet residue mixed in with the savory isn't a big deal but pesto mixed in with sweet rolls isn't a pleasant surprise.

At this point you can be as creative as your pantry allows. Spread the oblongs with softened butter, sugar, dried fruit, spices and nuts. Roll up, starting with the long side, cut in 1" lengths with a very sharp knife.

Place cut side up in greased baking dish or muffin tins, let rise until double in size.

For the savory rolls, here again let your pantry be your guide. I used cilantro pesto from the freezer, and my Naked seed pumpkins seeds here.

Spread, roll, cut, cover and let rise.

When the rolls have risen to the desired size, bake. Glaze as desired, or not, and enjoy!


2 Tablespoons or 2 packages dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water

3 large eggs
5 cups unsifted all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
2 teaspoons salt

Additional ingredients: softened butter, sugar, dried fruit, pesto, nuts.

Set yeast to work in 1/4 cup warm water. Beat eggs, add dissolved yeast and mix well. Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and alternating with remaining 1 cup warm water, mix. Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, and salt. Mix until smooth. Beat in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.

Punch dough down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours to allow the dough to rest.

To form rolls, punch dough down and divide in half. On floured cloth roll each half into rectangles approximately 8 x 15 inches. Spread with softened butter, and additional fillings as if making cinnamon rolls. Roll up starting with long side, cut in 1-inch slices with a serrated or very sharp knife. Place slices in greased baking dish or muffin tin and let rise until double in bulk.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Glaze sweet rolls if desired, or brush savory rolls with melted butter, or not... .

Friday, 20 November 2009


Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Recently I’ve been thinking about the things we do which take time, and how we adjust our lives so that we have time for these things. Or how we just do things from scratch to to learn, to understand, to appreciate… I often make the excuse that I'm doing something or growing something to teach my six homeschooled children about that thing, but the truth is that as a child of the modern age, I also need to learn some patience.

I’ve been growing some rice in a big plastic tub. It’s quite a big pot of rice. The grains grow as seed heads on a lush looking grass. My first crop yielded half a jar. We are a family of eight. Half a jar of brown rice grains doesn’t go far between eight people! A whole season’s worth of rice wasn’t even enough for a side dish. That really helped us appreciate the amount of land and water used for our usual 3+ cups of rice consumed with an evening meal once or twice each week.

We also grow pigeon pea. It’s a medium to large sized bush with many pods after flowering. The seeds can be eaten raw as a green pea, or dry similar to a lentil and traditionally used in dahl. Mostly our pigeon pea is a fodder tree for our animals, but sometimes the children and I harvest the dry seed, sift through and discard the imperfect ones and cook up a spicy feast. Processing the pigeon pea pods takes hours! Taking 200g of lentils from my freezer takes under ten seconds! Growing and processing our own might save us a couple of dollars at the most, but the main benefit is how much we learn about self-sufficiency and begin to truly appreciate our bulk-bought plant protein foods.

For the last few months we’ve been milking a house cow. Because of the recent dry weather, the milk we get equates to approximately the same price as the bio-dynamic milk in the local supermarket, taking into consideration the cost of feed and supplements. It’s about twice the price of the cheapest supermarket-brand milk. If we consider our initial investment in buying the animals, fencing, shelter and equipment, it will take us years to recoup costs! And that’s not including the 1+ hours a day I spend caring for the cows… But, to have abundant raw cow’s milk for our family is such a blessing. And to have learned about cows and calves, their food and care, supplements and health, milking, cheese-making and more is invaluable, to me!

From excess cream I have been making butter. I use a Thermomix (the food processor that does everything) to make the butter – so it’s fairly fast and not as messy as it could be! Before, I bought local butter in 500g blocks at the supermarket, stored a few in the freezer and took it for granted that I could grab one when I needed it. Now I make butter in bulk and freeze it in containers, but the effort involved, the time, the mess, using up all the buttermilk – it sure gives me a new appreciation for butter!

What sorts of things are you growing or doing from scratch that give you a new appreciation for the effort involved? Has anything surprised you? Do you think about things you consume in a new light now? I do.