Plastic-free Homesteading

(Feeling pretty capable back in September. Oh, to be young and innocent again.)

A while back a friend asked me how the plastic-free homesteading was going and I said, “Great, between the dismal failures.” Yup, sometimes the pressure cooker stew burns or the bread comes out dense (or mutant, see picture) or the goat milk yogurt does whatever it does that doesn’t involve thickening. Maybe you are already thinking that none of these are failures – they are the signs of a fearless housewife embarking into an unknown country (the Olden Days, remember) and learning much along the way.

That’s right, I am. After a few months of figuring things out as I go, of occasionally melting down and wailing “this is supposed to make me happy,” of serving dal all week for dinner because I just couldn’t think what else to make (I know some of you do that on purpose, but gee whiz, enough’s enough), and of somehow persevering anyways because I made a vow but also because I had a hunch that less waste really could equal more joy, things are looking up.

These days, my bread is coming out positively artisanal thanks to the fabulous and foolproof no-knead method. My dinners are a triumph of creative simplicity (right, honey?). I’m saving the goat milk for cheese making, and using cow milk for the yogurt  because it’s tear proof (and cheap and comes in returnable glass bottles). All of this makes it a lot easier to have warm fuzzy feelings about “doing the right thing.” Which every day becomes less and less novel, and more and more just the way we live.

I know, I know, it looks like I’ve got things under control. But not to worry. I’m sure I’ll burn the soup again soon.

Feeding the Grandmothers

IMG_0039IMG_0020I didn’t learn to can food from my grandmothers. That knowledge came from books and mentors, was pulled from the great Out There where such wisdom resides, waiting for whomever comes looking. From these women I inherited my eyes and nose, a hefty dose of sentimentality, and faith in the unseen. When I think of the generations of grandmothers stretching back into time, it makes me a bit dizzy, as when I gaze up at the Milky Way and try to fathom how big the universe really is. Each ancestor in my lineage–and yours, too–faced unique challenges on both the personal and cultural level. Like us they found ways to celebrate, to love their families, and to forge onward. A few nights ago, when the moon was bright and fat through the apple branches, I put a serving of dinner out among the fallen leaves. I spooned a helping of apple sauce made from that very tree on top, and said a short prayer of thanks. It went like this:   Thank you, thank you, thank you for this good life we lead. May we use it well.