Monday, January 16, 2012

Do you ever wonder?

One of our yummy meals from last week using what we had.
 Currently I am reading "The Long Winter: by Laura Ingalls Wilder out loud to the kids. I have read this book (the whole series) many many times (as a child I practically had them memorized and I also read them out loud to the kids a few years ago as well) but I love them and learn from them each time I read them. In case you haven't read them the summary of "The Long Winter" is this: The Ingalls family was living in a brand new town in South Dakota. They had some things set aside for their winter's food from what they had been able to grow the first year on their farm but they didn't have enough and they were counting on the trains to supply what else they needed. Well they started having blizzards early and often and the trains weren't able to come through and didn't come until May. But with ingenuity and the community working together they all survived.

   We have also been hearing about communities in Alaska this year that are shut off and yesterday in church we discussed how the city of Samaria lasted through a siege for 3 years (2 Kings 17:5).

  All of this very much makes me wonder- "If we were in any of those situations how well would we do?" Ken thinks I am a little strange and supposes that I am the only one who reads "The Long Winter" and gets inspired rather than thinking I am glad that doesn't happen to us but I do enjoy imagining how we could make do with what we have if we were faced with the circumstances of not being able to get out and buy anything more for a period of time.

  So... I proposed to my family that we try and see if we could make it through the winter better than the Ingalls did and not go shopping until May. They didn't go for it though they did find the idea interesting and would support me in it a bit but not all the way. I don't know if I would have been able to stick out or not either (I may have gotten quite thirsty for milk and hungry for cheese) but I do think it would be fun to try (all while knowing I COULD go shopping if I needed too- that makes a huge difference!).

  So I was out voted on the idea of no shopping (an consequently not drinking milk and running out of other things we like) but I still intend to see just how little shopping I can do this winter (Shopping for food and everything else).  We have been blessed with so very much we really don't have much need of buying anything. I am going to see if I can keep our meals so yummy and interesting that they won't even notice that we have run low on something that they particularly like. Since cooking is not my favorite thing in the world to do, something like this helps to keep it interesting and henceforth more enjoyable.

  I also will try to make sure we have a good balanced diet even with less shopping. I do still think we need plenty of fruits and veggies- we have quite a bit canned and frozen and my parents have been sharing cabbage and garlic with us that they still have from their garden but I also have sprouts growing and I tried planting some bunching onions inside which if that works out we will be able to eat their green tops in a couple of weeks. Mara and I were also discussing the idea of planting lettuce and radishes inside which would be a nice addition to our diet.

  I need to do more research concerning calcium needs. I know there are some people who don't think milk is good for you (or who have dairy allergies) that don't drink much milk but I need to check to see what is actually healthy for our family. We won't be cutting out all milk by any means as that was vetoed but I am thinking about taking a break from it myself and also trying to drink less as a family  and drink more of our herbal teas instead. Also I have found that we really don't need it in baking and in things like pancakes. The pancakes I made this morning I made with water instead of milk, no oil in the batter and less eggs and they turned out just fine.

  Another project that I want to try for this is rendering down beef fat for using for some of our oil/grease cooking and baking needs. I have some from our grass fed natural beef but I have not tried rendering it yet.

  By the way- for any of you that actually know us and might get the idea that we are not able to go shopping or something and might think you need to help us out- please don't! That is not at all the case! Ken has a good job and we are extremely blessed. It is only for the fun of it (both in entertainment value, and the fun of saving money and just that curiosity to see how well we can meet the challenge) that makes me want to do it. I will NOT cause my family to go hungry nor feed them an unhealthy diet.

   It is fun to experiment and see all the different types of food you can make from what you already have on hand. For instance this past week the kids were ready for their afternoon snack (Ken jokes that we have 6 meals a day since the kids and I tend to usually have a morning snack, a snack after naps and a snack in the evening too) and the boys wanted to have popped wild rice since they had enjoyed it once before at a class they went to. So we popped a bit of wild rice which is easy to do- simply put 1/2 cup or so in a greased iron skillet that is on about medium heat and then shake or stir until it all pops. It doesn't pop real big or violently like popcorn but the insides do pop out of the shell. Just salt it and enjoy. I didn't make a lot as wild rice is rather expensive even here in wild rice country so I decided to make some parched grains as well. I repeated the same process with both field corn and wheat berries (they don't pop but they do swell up and grow somewhat soft) and then we salted and ate them too. It was a yummy and pretty easy snack using things that we had on hand.

Another recipe that I made lately that used things that for the most part we have plenty of was:

Rise and Shine Cookies these are great for breakfasts, desert and snacks.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first 5 ingredients together then mix in the honey, eggs and oil. Next mix in the oatmeal and sunflower seeds. Drop dough by tablespoons about 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your hand or the bottom of a glass. Bake 10 minutes or until light brown.

 Anyway- this last week I had fun eating out of our pantry (though we did buy butter and milk and were blessed to receive eggs, garlic,onions, cabbage and squash from my parents farm) and am game to do it for a lot longer! I imagine we will have to buy milk again this week unless I really figure out how to stretch it but I don't know that we will have to buy anything else.

 Here is what we are planning for our menu for this week:

Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Pancakes (2 times- I make extra and then reheat another day)
Eggs and Hash browns
Golden Egg sauce on toast
Muffins and Homemade Beef Sausage Patties

Main Meals:
Teriyaki steak chunks with pasta and cauliflower with cheese.
Chimichangas and corn
Tuna turnovers and cabbage salad
Cheese and Ham potato patties and green beans
Spaghetti and broccoli
Chicken Rice Burritos and salad.
Biscuits and chicken gravy and applesauce.

I am linking up to
Menu Plan Monday
-Pantry Challenge
and - Homestead Barn Hop.


Sheila said...

I have never liked milk, even as a small child, and am not big on any dairy at all. I have finally decided that I'm probably just mildly lactose intolerant, but I don't know that for sure. Every time I have blood work, I am interested in my calcium levels. My calcium levels have always been great. I try to eat a generally healthy diet, but I have never tried to eat things specifically to replace anything I might get in dairy. Obviously, this is just my experience, but I wouldn't worry about not drinking milk.

Raine said...

I like that idea, and will be following you to see how it turns out. My husband and I are sort of survival/sufficiency-minded, and have done challenges to live on stored food for a month, but never longer than that. We had planned in advance, in a modern way, though so we had dried milk and things like that.

For calcium, sesame seeds are extremely high in it, as are flax seeds; leafy greens like spinach, collards, turnip greens, arugla, kale, & swiss chard; brazil nuts and almonds; broccoli, celery, okra, soybeans, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. Blackstrap molasses have it too, which may be how a lot of settlers got it if they didn't have cows, and cooking herbs are high in calcium to.

Alla said...

Sounds like a great idea. This just put the incentive for me to see how far I can go too. For milk I usually have goats milk from my goats but during their dry spell I'm going to try making soy milk. It takes 1 cup soybeans for a little over 1/2 gallon of milk. Sounds like that would be cheaper than feeding my goats! LOL.

JoannaTopazT said...

I didn't know you could do that with wild rice! It sounds intriguing, and we will have to try it, since we do like both popcorn and wild rice.

Martha A. said...

I don't drink milk, but after being vegetarian without milk for a time, breaking my foot and being in the beginning stages of osteopenia at the age of 21, scared me. So, I did some studies and I take a liquid calcium/magnesium that really works and helps me a lot. It helps with cramps as well, if I take it all month.

I love the Long Winter and often think those same things you did. I think one thing we need to learn is being satisfied. My husband is from an Eastern European country and I noticed when I am with his family and he can eat the same thing for three days straight. They don't have a ton of variety. We are spoiled here and say things like "I need such and such." Eating bread, potatoes, beans, and wheat would get tiring.....and I am sure they longed and needed other food,but that food kept them alive and helped them to survive. Sometimes when money has been tight, I do remind myself that we can survive on less than what we think is needed.

Nola said...

This is interesting and made me laugh. Just that I don't have the energy to challenge myself to something like that.

As for milk, my family doesn't drink a lot of it, but we do yogurt a lot (I usually make it) and cheese a few times a week, and then also get calcium through alternative "milks" and other foods too. My one daughter really doesn't like milk at all, so I give her two servings of yogurt a day (the amount recommended in the food guide). You don't have to drink the actual fluid milk to get milk products, and as other people said, you don't have to drink it at all...but I do think its harder to make sure you're getting enough that way.

Alison said...

This is a cool idea! Brandy at has been forced to live off food storage for extended periods of time. She has amazing resources listed on her site for making this possible, both financially and for health.

Melissa said...

I adore Laura's books. I have a Little House On The Prairie Cookbook that goes through all the books and gives historically accurate (or as close to possible) recipes (it even includes a recipe for black bird pie).

Christy said...

I loved the Little House books and the Long Winter is among my favs!
I am sure you will learn a lot even if you only do this part way - living on what we have and wasting nothing is something to strive for!

Abbi said...

Thanks so much to all of you for your encouragement and for the information you shared! It is fun to realize that I am not alone as Ken thought I might be in my thinking. :-)

Kathy said...

oh I love the Little House books too! I want to learn how to be more self sufficient...I have such a long way to go though. Looking forward to learning from you and reading your blog. Thank you!
Followed over from Frugal tip Tuesday and Five Kids and an Acre :-D

Lady Violet said...

It seems calcium is the hardest mineral to digest, which is why when I lack sleep calcium - rich foods make me terribly sick.
Calcium rich foods are: honey and pollen, carrots, most leaf veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, nuts and grapes or raisins, tap water (depending on your area),avocados, and milk products.
My calcium and mineral count is always right in the middle where it should be, strangely enough, because I purposely avoid many of the above mentioned foods.


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