Root Soup

After an art show weekend on the road, and an icy road, to boot, I needed comfort food today. Although I usually follow an 8-hour diet, I welcomed us home with breakfast.  My girls lay eggs even in winter, so I fried some of them up in a little local butter.

In return for their gifts, I cleaned and refilled all their water founts, put fresh hay in coops and runs, and treated them to a mealworms-and-milo snack.  When they’re happy, I’m happy.

Because it is still icy outside, I made a big pot of root soup for lunch.  The roots on hand were yellow onion, orange carrots, and russet potatoes.  I didn’t puree, but the russets break down pretty well.  I seasoned them with a little salt and Penzey’s Sunny Paris.  I added a bit of ham toward the end. Delicious!  And there’s plenty left for tomorrow.

Food can hurt or heal. I pay attention to what goes in our bowls and on our plates.  But sometimes, it is comfort one requires.

Stay warm and well fed, my friends.  And even on wintry days like this, get up and move around.  Movement, too, gives comfort.

Knowledge and Cheese

In my twenties, when I was writing cooking columns for a weekly newspaper and had access to good, rich Jersey milk, I made cheese.  And butter.   I learned the latter skill from my grandmother, and I’ve passed it on to several groups of elementary students.  The cheese-making skills came from books and experimentation.

Now, because I have access to good local cheeses, it has been a while since I felt the need to make my own. I wasn’t sure I remembered how, so I decided to spend a Monday afternoon getting reacquainted with the skill.  My instructions came from Claudia Lucero’s One-Hour Cheese. I started with a quart of whole milk from our village grocery store and a recipe called “First-Timers Cheese in 5 Steps.”

The recipe requires only milk, vinegar, and salt.  I added Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning (shallots, dill, and other lovely tastes). I followed the easy directions, and it was as easy as the name implies.  In twenty minutes, the man was tasting what I’d created.

Lucero’s book has a list of necessary tools, but this easy recipe requires only a 2-quart saucepan (I used stainless steel), a bowl, a slotted spoon, and measuring utensils, of course.

The tasty curds were lovely on our dinner salad.

My next experiment will be to make cheese using whole powdered milk.  Will it coagulate?  Will it taste as good?

Why now?

  1. If there are disruptions in the food supply, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your food storage can produce real cheese?
  2. And because I’m reading Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening and I came across this tiny treasure of wisdom:

“Reliance on self-reliance…presumes that you have an ample supply of every necessity and that other survivors (who will all be in the same boat) will let you keep it to yourself. (Should you even want to, considering that you will all need one another’s help?)”

Desperation and greed both make grand entrances when times are hard.  There is less desperation and less danger if we work together in communities, when we invite the wanderer to be part of the community.

More important than sharing your supplies will be sharing your knowledge.  It is the one thing you can never have too much of.  It is the thing that marauders can’t take from you so long as you are alive.  And your supply of knowledge isn’t diminished when you share; it grows.