Sometimes it’s just hard to think of something to eat for dinner, even if all kinds of ingredients are staring at you from the cupboard, freezer, or fridge! We’ve been enjoying Pinterest lately, searching for recipes and gazing at mouth-watering photos. The only problem with some of these beautiful recipes is that most call for out-of-season and other store-bought ingredients. We try to use what is at hand in our farmstead kitchen, and that precludes following a lot of these recipes.
Eating for us is all about flavor AND sustainability. Eating is an agricultural act, as Wendell Barry has said. You literally vote with your fork each and every day for the kind of world you want to see in the future.
Being farmers on a budget who happen to grow actual food (many farmers these days only grow animal-feed crops like field corn and soybeans), we have a variety of fresh and preserved ingredients to choose from for our meals. We raise pastured animals for meat and have a very diverse garden that feeds our CSA customers and ourselves, and we almost always have duck eggs (although right now we only have frozen eggs while the ducks enjoy their winter vacation). We can, ferment, cure, freeze, and root cellar our products all spring, summer, and fall. Nevertheless, we still get into cooking ruts and need some inspiration. We decided to begin our “Farmstead Kitchen” series as a way to broaden our own cooking horizons, while sharing what it is like to eat from a diverse farmstead throughout the year. Even if you don’t have a farmstead, we can all learn to focus on what is available in season from local farms and learn how to preserve food for out-of-season use.
We will be focusing on creating meals out of what we have on hand and what’s been preserved by either canning, storing in the root cellar, drying, or freezing. We won’t be too strict; we have not yet grown wheat for making flour, and we purchase organic peanut butter and dried pasta. We bake our own crusty bread, but sometimes soft sandwich bread from the store is an indulgence. Enjoy the little things that are your splurges!
Our meals are based around the ingredients we have, instead of a strict recipe. Here’s some typical statements made around our kitchen: “What do you want to eat tonight? What do we have to use up? I’m in the mood for something starchy. I want Chinese food. Should we make refried beans tomorrow? There’s fresh chicken stock in the fridge. Are there any eggs left? We have a bag of apples still. Is there any bread? Do we have any sweet corn in the freezer? I have 2 heads of napa cabbage in the cellar. Can you grab a jar of lard out of the freezer?” After all of this, we often tend to go the comfort food route, especially in the winter. A stew, a roast, mashed potatoes. It’s time to shake things up a bit, and also a great time to take note of what things we’re really craving this time of year, so that we can figure out how to grow and preserve it for next winter’s eating.
Join us on this edible journey, share your experiences, and let us know what you think!