I've been practicing my self-sufficiency muscles today. Since I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma, Real Food, and Taste, I have been interested in eating a "traditional" diet: basically nothing that couldn't have been produced before the industrial revolution. It also includes eating grass-fed beef and pastured hens and local, organic produce. Naturally, I don't find it the easiest thing in the world to always follow these principles, but I'm trying and I'll share the ways I've found that make it easier to follow a traditional diet.
I think the easiest way to procure local, organic produce is to grow it myself. I'm a little limited, though, because we rent. Nevertheless, Paul and I have just finished planting strawberries, herbs, and lettuce--all in containers. Thanks to Sheherazade Goldsmith's A Slice of Organic Life, I found out that strawberries can grow in a hanging basket (below) and the book also walked me through planting lettuce in a window box. We'll see how it goes!
In other realms of self-sufficiency, I also made chicken stock. It's really easy and makes stock that is soooo much better than the broth that comes in a box from the grocery store. It's also very close to free to make.
1. Save chicken scraps/bones in a gallon-size bag in the freezer. When it's full, you're ready to make stock. Be sure to save the gallon-size bag, though. You'll need it when you're done.
2. Peel a carrot and chop it in 3 or 4 large pieces.
3. Clean a celery stalk and cut off the leaves. Chop stalk into 3 or 4 pieces.
4. Peel a medium-sized white or yellow onion.
5. Get out your largest stock pot and put in the chicken pieces, carrot, celery, and onion. Fill with water to cover by approximately 2 inches.
6. Throw in a handful of peppercorns, a sprinkling of dried thyme or a couple stalks of fresh, and a couple of bay leaves.
7. Bring the stock almost up to a boil and then back the heat off to a slow simmer for 4 hours. All you have to do now is stir every once in a while and check on the heat.
8. Strain the stock into a mixing bowl (throw the solid parts of the stock into the gallon-size bag and discard). Cover and cool overnight. In the morning, you can skim off the fat (which will now have solidified) and store the stock in the refrigerator. There is generally between 4 and 6 cups of stock after it has been skimmed. I use quart-sized Mason jars for storage.
If you've never used your chicken scraps to make stock before, it's really worth it just for the taste. It's really not as daunting as it seems, I promise!
This is the work I've done on the sweater I mentioned last post. This will eventually be the back of the sweater. The bottom portion is a 1x1 rib and now I'm working on the stitch pattern for the top part of the sweater. It's just a stockinette variation that gives a neat tweed-like effect that I think is pretty cool. It's going to be a while before I finish, but I'll keep you updated. I wish I could knit faster! There are so many projects I want to start!