This year we have started making an effort to buy only “whole” foods. This means that there is no ingredient list for the food or there are no additives on the ingredient list.
I probably don’t have to explain this to most of you, but I will. For example, a banana has one ingredient – banana. A bag of oatmeal is usually one ingredient – oatmeal. When I buy cheese, I make sure there are only 3 or 4 ingredients on the list, and no flavours or colours added. I just won’t eat it if there is. I have stopped buying most cheddar cheeses because they are usually coloured orange which is unnatural.
This way of eating is, I believe, important to food safety, health and control of our own ability to procure food for ourselves. With every purchase we make at a food store, we are making a kind of vote. We are telling large companies and stores what we will and will not accept about our food.
Some of the food we are buying now are things that we cannot grow at this time of year for ourselves nor can we put it away for the winter from our harvest. For example, we had very little spinach last year, likely due to the harsh winter we had. Our spinach is volunteer, so most of the seeds didn’t germinate. What did come up we froze and had very little for fresh eating. So we are buying some spinach for fresh eating this winter. Not ideal, but necessary for us to feel we are eating healthy.
If you want to see what we bought and why check out the video below.
So our focus on food this year is to keep buying whole foods and to buy as local as possible. Once we have been doing this for a while, it will become habit and we won’t be tempted to buy “treats” or sugar filled garbage food.
So, we are out of the white onions that we harvested from our garden in the fall. They never really last very long anyway and sometimes we have to just chop them up, cook them and freeze them for use later.
For onions now, instead of buying we use our multipliers. This is good and bad. They are extremely flavourful, having much more flavour than regular white onions. The problem is that being small, they take extra time to peel and cut up. So much so that sometimes there is a temptation to NOT use them. But we buck up and do anyway!
We keep a certain number of them on the counter for convenience, but the rest (I am told there are still 2 long orange bags full of them) are kept in the cellar. These onions are grown from bulbs that have been grown in this area for decades. They are probably the same as most people have in many places though.
When thinking about being frugal, these onions fit right in to the scheme. You can grow them for green onions all through the summer, just for the mature onion, and for your own seed. They really are amazing. And so far there have been no diseases or insect bothering them at all like the other large onions.
We are also keeping what there is of our garlic on the counter. This year, as I have written about, was almost a failure. We had enough to plant about 6 small rows last fall, but what we are eating is very small as you can see. The flavour is good but again it is time consuming to peel.
In the picture, there is also an example of what is left of our apples. Ernie is still eating them but I cannot bring myself to 😉 He says they are good even though there is a little brown in the middle.
So we are set for onions until the winter onions peek through the soil in the spring.
Descendants of these poppies have been in our north garden for around 80 years. Each year they seed themselves and we weed and plant around them. The colour was originally a plain red but over the years we have counted at least 10 different variations in colour that have developed, including white, white with red edging and a light purple. This mutation occured naturally. In the picture you can see a red flower with white edging and different shades of red.
This year we decided to fill in our small strawberry patch because the winter was rough on them and most didn’t survive. We didn’t do anything special to fill this in other than let the existing grass work its way into the area. Also working their way into the bare soil were weeds – or what most gardeners would consider weeds.
While watching the grass grow in, I noticed that there was a large clump of clover that was attracting bees. They all looked so happy, so I left it there. Also in the vicinity were some violas and other perennials that had been in the strawberry bed. I left them all.
Suddenly I noticed that the bed was now full of weeds that actually looked pretty good. I added a rock and dug up the soil, pulling out some black medick and a few other things that I considered weeds in this bed. Now I had a small flower bed of mostly weeds.
The picture below is terrible but gives an idea of what it looks like. I like to use this to explain things in life. Not everything that we consider bad is necessarily bad. Maybe we just need to look at it a different way.
To see the vlog about it go to: http://youtu.be/vO7KPUjednA
It works because I like it and it is insect friendly and dog friendly – if the dogs pee on a few things it doesn’t matter that much!
This year we grew some of our own vegetables from seed for transplanting into the garden. These were tomatoes, cabbage, brussels, broccoli, oregano, basil. Everything grew and grew. This is unusual for us. More often, the plants are spindly and small and they take more work than is preferred to get them to live.
This time we ignored them, so I guess that is why they grew so nicely.
We will be moving them out into the shed soon for the nights and in the day they will be somewhat protected outside until they harden a bit.
We did transplant the tomatoes, which we never do, so I guess that does count as not ignoring them.
Maybe it is just one of those years.
Our garlic harvest from last fall is still going strong. To date, there has been only one or two rotten cloves – that’s it. It is completely different from the previous two years in which we lost quite of bit of our harvest and had to quickly make garlic powder from the rest of the drying cloves. Many of the cloves are starting to sprout but no mould at all. The taste is still good as well, and we are eating some everyday!
We really enjoy making our own stuff. This is especially true when it comes to the garden. It is so simple to go out and buy what you need – which usually promptly breaks because of the poor quality found in most things made nowadays.
This spring we made a hot house for our peppers which has really turned out to be amazing. I also included pictures of a hand trowel that Ernie found lying around here and fixed with a nail because not surprisingly it broke after a small amount of use. As well, we use an old barrel to destroy personal papers – the lid is from an old fridge, and the milk jugs are used to protect plants in the spring from frost, all piled up on a metal pole found at the garbage dump.
In other words, buying new isn’t all what its seems. Making your own stuff is creative and stimulates the mind, and it is easier on the earth.
Believe it or not the following soup is incredibly tasty. I found the recipe in an old cookbook of my aunt’s that she gave me. The flavour comes from the spices and onions.
Ingredients: Olive oil – but you can use butter as well. Slice onions and sauté them in the fat until soft. Then add a small amount of rosemary, basil, thyme, and salt. Chop up a medium potato into small pieces and add that. Finally add the zucchini to fill the pan and cook until soft. Taste when cooked to check for spice amounts. Don’t over do the rosemary most importantly. You can add pepper but be careful with it.
All of the ingredients in this recipe we grew in our garden except the olive oil and salt, obviously. If you have a small amount of animal fat you that you have saved you can use that instead, as it really doesn’t matter flavour wise.