One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Granny Miller Challenge--Food and Water


We ate well during the weekend. I think, the main reason we did, was that we menu-planned to the nth degree--kind of like we would have if we were taking a trip. It helped us to stay focused and organized to already have the decisions made. I wonder how that would work in any sort of a long term situation, because I know that I am often hit or miss on meal planning on a day to day kind of a basis. (Note to us: work on being more consistent with menu planning, so the habit is there when the need is.)

For dinner Friday evening, we had planned Vegetable Beef (venison) Stew. Plan A was to cook it in wood-fire coals, but Owen worked with a neighbor off the farm and it rained, so we cooked inside on the propane cooktop instead. We all became fans of the long butane lighters over the weekend and laughed at ourselves for turning off burners and trying to light them by the knobs, without any flame.

Saturday morning, we had planned coconut flour pancakes and homemade, homegrown pork sausage with eggs. We thought it would be handy to use an old-fashioned hand-powered hand mixer to mix the pancakes, but it turned out the whisk was much more effective with a batter. The sausage was easier to make than I thought it would be (I used this family favorite recipe from Alton Brown, and used 2 and a half pounds of already-ground pork.) I used an old cookbook holder from the farmers' market box and really learned to appreciate how much easier it is to read from a cookbook or recipe binder that is propped up in a holder and lit with a lamp on the counter. We cooked the pancakes and sausage over the coals outside. Owen and Becca set up the awning to protect us from rain and Owen's Boy Scout fire-making experience kept us in plenty of hot coals. It was hard work to bend and cook over fire just a foot off the ground. The cook cooks just as much as the food does! We decided to leave off the eggs. The pancakes were egg-y enough and plenty filling with the sausage.

We wondered aloud if homemakers of bygone days wore a towel over their shoulder with 'designated spots' for different 'messes'. Perhaps they wet one end and used one corner to wipe their hot, cooked face, and the other wet corner to wipe off dirty hands. Maybe they saved the dry end for wiping only what was clean, like washed hands. We decided that cooking over the fire is almost too difficult and time consuming for everyday meal preparation. We will be improving our dutch oven cooking skills, learning and trying pit-roasting, looking into making and using a solar oven. In the long run, we'd like to build an outdoor stove and wood-fired oven that will allow us to cook in a more upright position without our faces directly over the fire.

Saturday lunch was more of a snack... rice cakes on hand with hummus or egg salad or pb. It made for a nice break in the day and we visited at the table as no one was distracted.

Saturday supper Hannah and Owen worked together over the fire again. We had pork ribs--they had already par-cooked so they warmed over the fire mopped with sauce, foil-wrapped potatoes cooked in the coals, we had sauerkraut that had fermented in our crock (as a side note, the kraut we have made with homegrown cabbage has been much more flavorful to us than that which was made with boughten cabbage), and broccoli steamed on the stove inside. Dessert was dutch oven-baked applesauce hung over the fire.

Sunday breakfast was home-made yogurt, apples or bananas. The yogurt had already been made using a heating pad for incubating. We talked about options for making homemade yogurt without power. One idea would be to place the yogurt in jars in a cooler and adding some jars of warm water to keep the cooler warm. Perhaps this could be done in an oven as well.

Sunday 'lunch', after church was eggs, bacon, refried beans, corn tortillas, salsa, avocado, lettuce. We cooked inside on the propane cooktop (and wondered how many butane lighters or boxes of matches we should keep on hand).

Sunday supper was our celebration meal. We hand-churned coconut milk ice cream, and popped popcorn on the stove. We agreed we had survived the weekend very well, indeed.

The next post will be about Water. I think it will take longer than I originally thought...

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