October 16: steak, burgers, baked potatoes with farm butter, sour cream, and cheddar, pickled beets, fresh green beans with farm parmesan, butter, and garlic, winter squash, and whole-meal sourdough bread. We didn’t grow the wheat, and we didn’t make the wine (zinfandel).
May 17: spaghetti and meatballs, salad. The sweet italian sausage is from the pigs butchered two weeks ago, and makes the most delicious meatballs, combined with whole-wheat bread crumbs (heels and leftover grilled cheese sandwiches tend to back up in our refrigerator), eggs, and milk. We bake them first to render out some of the fat (although Lisa the Italian food guru says they are more tender if poached), before simmering them in sauce. We canned the sauce last year according to Barry B.’s recipe, with some doubts about its success. Our t. sauce is usually a bit too acid. But Barry doesn’t have the reputation he does without reason, and this sauce is delicious. We will put up more this year, God willing.
Lettuce is from the garden, beautiful heads of buttercrunch suffering in this rain.
Wednesday, May 11: hamburgers and steaks, buttercrunch lettuce salad from the garden, roast potatoes.
Monday, March 7: It will soon be lent, and we are indulging freely in the sweets that will disappear from the menu for the next six-and-a-half weeks. Fresh hot cinnamon rolls — yes, we did eat dinner first, beef and lamb chili, garlic mashed potatoes, and braised cabbage. The freezer that defrosted contained a lot of lamb, and we are using it up more quickly, on the priniciple that thawing and refreezing doesn’t improve meat quality; but you’d never know it by the eating qualities of this meat.
Friday, Feb. 25: The guys were pulling trees off the hill today and were pretty hungry. Grilled pork chops, roast potatoes and garlic, carrot salad, and green salad; and we made ice cream today. We really do go through about a pound of butter and two gallons of milk a day, and we are all robustly healthy. Let’s hear it for “fresh and local”. We will be selling one of the three pigs we send to the butcher in late April, and it will pay for the other two, including processing. We could butch our own, and save the profit on the one we sell, but the weather will probably be too warm for home butching pigs by that time.
Thursday,Feb. 24: Steak, hamburgers, squash and onions, braised cabbage, twice-baked potatoes.
Food for thought: One effect of industialized food is that we have become conditioned to expect what we eat to be uniform; that is, we expect food to be like tennis shoes or cell phones or paper plates, the same every time, everywhere.
This is funny, because, as hard as the industry tries to hide the fact from us , food is animals and plants, and no one expects animal or plant life to render more than general uniformity. In fact, we prefer non-uniformity in the natural world; we love oddities. My pet is different from your pet; that’s what I like about him. My flower beds aren’t just like the neighbors’; I deliberately imprint my own tastes and preferences on them, not only by my choice of species, but on how I urge each species to perform, tinkering with my cultivation practices to achieve the individual characteristics I value most. We love innovation, and oddity, and what geneticists call sport — something new and hitherto unseen.
Yet our food, which is just animals and plants prepared for the table, we expect to be unvarying from day to day, month to month, season to season, year to year. Factory food preparation has made this possible. (Check out the movie Food, Inc., if you want a summary.) The net result of this industrialized uniformity is that, when our food varies in the slightest respect from the standardization to which we are accustomed, we not only don’t like it, we are afraid of it. We don’t merely complain about the difference; we eye it suspiciously, and probably throw the item out.
This fact creates a rather large obstacle for anyone who wants to produce his or her own food, and an even bigger one for the person who hopes other people — family, for instance — will eat what he raises. Fact: what comes out of your garden, your rabbit hutches, chicken house, pasture, or dairy animal, is going to vary from instance to instance; and none of it is going to arrive packaged, trimmed, and waxed the way it does from the store. You are going to encounter the obstacle of “foreign food” — food that looks unfamiliar — as soon as you start gathering the materials for a meal.
All this is to explain about the squash and onions we had for dinner. We fix sauteed squash and onions often in the summer, using fresh summer squash; in the winter we have butternut, steamed or baked. The seasons don’t really overlap much. Zucchini and butterstick deliver a good harvest for most of July, August, and September; some time in October we go out in the pumpkin patch and pull in all the squash that have reached maturity. The immature squash we feed to the pigs.
But last fall we made one of those discoveries that delight the person who likes to do things for himself, because it adds something new to his arsenal of options. Come to find out, immature butternut squash — possibly peeled — seeded, too, if the seeds are woody — and sauteed with onion, is a dish every bit worthy to take its place among the delicious ways to eat squash. This is a great revelation for the gardener, who is always looking for new ways to use that prolific vegetable. And when we add that the immature squash keeps on a shelf in the basement pretty well — sure, some of it molds, but most of it holds just fine — you can see that this successful venure into “foreign food” means that this family of revolutionaries are a degree nearer that sort of self-sufficiency which means low planetary and ecological impact, and a reasonable independence from the minute-to-minute ups and downs of political and economic events. This makes us happy.
early February: hamburgers and steak cooked over our own wood have almost no impact on the fossil fuels of the planet. We eat grilled beef several times a week, except in the most bitter weather. Baby Jersey bulls raised on grass-fed Jersey milk and till-free, chemical-free fodder — self-harvested in our rotationally grazed pastures, during the spring and summer, then our organic hay in the winter months — utilize only the smallest amounts of petroleum products for the production of top-quality Jersey beef: just the gasoline to fetch the babies home from the dairy where we buy them, and the gas for our tractor and pickup when we harvest the hay.
School lunches for the university students usually consist of our homemade whole-wheat bread, and sliced meatloaf — our answer to store-bought sandwich meat. Cheaper, more wholesome, and of higher quality. Those of us who like yogurt go through a couple of gallons a week, and regret that our fall apple harvest ran out in December — store apples make a poor second, and adjust our on-farm / off-farm ratio in the wrong direction.
Thursday, Nov. 11: the boys made jerky, and there were a lot of tag ends left. I had three quarts of beef stock in the refrigerator, left over from the beef neck chili earlier in the week, so I added a round steak to the other ingredients and made stew. Braised cabbage with vinaigrette, and biscuits, made a good dinner.
Wed., 10 Nov: meatballs and spaghetti with fresh-grated parmesan– all the meatballs anyone could eat, and a bunch left for the next couple days’ lunches. Carrot salad (sadly, we have eaten all our own carrots, so these were bought, but we are reading our Eliot Coleman, and expect to harvest our own carrots all next winter). Pickled beets, pumpkin pie (considered a veg in our family, and why not?).
Tues., 9 Nov.: Steaks and hamburgers according to individual preference, braised immature butternut squash with onions (this has to be tried to be believed — and all those years we were giving immature butternut to the livestock!), the last ripe tomatoes from the hoop house, diced, with garlic, olive oil, basil (pureed and frozen) and our excellent parmesan, and homemade croutons from all those brown loaf heels you find left over when you make your own bread — also pickled beets.
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