Wednesday, December 2, 2009

81 days in. 9 to go.

Home stretch!

Here's a current picture of the garden. On the left, cilantro, then arugula, peas, then tomatoes then onions and butterhead lettuce at the far end.
There were three tomato plants that grew spontaneously. One grew right in the row where there had been the failed Simpson lettuce and the failed cabbage- I left that one where it was. Another was in with the onions and another plant was in with the lettuce. I transplanted them all into one row. The operation went off without a hitch and I hope the roots take hold and they continue to grow.
It may be just a bit early for tomatoes still. I usually plant tomatoes in Feb or March and I will still plant more then. These will be blossoming at the height of Arizona's cold season (possible freeze at night) and the blossoms are too delicate for even the slightest frost. We may or may not have any bees to pollinate them.

A few dishes on the table this week: Soft pretzels with spicy mustard. Deeeee-LISH! Usually you brush the pretzel dough with egg whites to give them a bit of a crust when they are baked. In the absence of eggs, made a paste/glaze out of the egg solids and they came out fine although a bit darker than usual. Half of them got baked with some coarse sea salt and sesame seeds sprinkled on. The other half was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and were eaten for breakfast today. The recipe called for butter which is gone. Butter solids were used with no detectable difference in taste or texture. I wouldn't spread it on bread or a pancake but it worked for baking. Sliced up a spicy smoked sausage from the freezer, fried it and served it with black beans. Refried beans and pepper sauce.

The freezer is about empty. Two lbs of breakfast sausage, 1 bag of frozen corn, 1 bag of frozen brocolli, 1 lb of hamburger and 1 lb of shrimp. There's nothing like some shrimp, brined and then boiled with some cayenne pepper and you shell right it there at the table served with some good Henry Weinhardt's Root Beer... The shrimp will have to wait until we can go to the store again for some root beer. The two Cornish game hens are de-frosting for dinner tonight. They'll be served with some corn and biscuits and a salad from the garden. The last of the frozen orange juice was served for breakfast yesterday.

Spent a few days in California with family and had Mexican food for Thanksgiving and spaghetti the next night. I spent the afternoon with my son, Javin and we went out for pizza. Stopped for McDonalds and Del Taco on the road- one coming and one going. Del Taco in Banning CA was out of refried beans that night. HA! I have a mountain of refried beans in storage! I settled for some tacos but a bean and cheese burrito would have been nice. For the road, homemade crescent rolls- sliced open and stuffed with tuna and mayonaise. Took a bag of sunflower seeds and a bag of Cheetos and a couple of cans of 7-up from the networking mixer a couple of weeks ago.

Commentary from observers is interesting when talking face to face. I know people are reading this but there are less comments lately than when I write about other topics. I don't know if this is making people feel uncomfortable. A friend asked last night how it was going and laughingly stated that her family would have already starved to death. It was an uncomfortable laugh. I didn't laugh at it. This is someone who has the means to do so and the knowledge that it is wise to do so but seems frozen with fear or something... GET PREPARED! After the initial discomfort in the conversation, she puzzled and then asked about the lack of butter and eggs and where we found the egg solids and butter solids and whether it was against the parameters of the experiment to have gone and purchased those. No, those were purchased and stored a long time ago.

In the time of crisis, the time to prepare will have passed. There may not be a grocery store, there may not be a paycheck, the outside food or water supply may be contaminated somehow. Now is the time! I bet there are people who are struggling with the economy right now and don't have the extra means to prepare for the future. I hope that there is not an additional crisis of some sort while our economy is still struggling. Mormons have been counseled to store food and supplies against hard times since WWII. Anybody who has not heeded that counsel yet- I don't even know what to say. What are you waiting for?

As the end of the experiment is in sight, here is a list of things that I will do differently going forward: Hot chocolate was very nice to have on hand- comfort. Beans and rice and wheat cereals and such will be more a part of the regular diet so that those things get rotated properly. The freezer has been a blessing but too much of my meat and vegatables rely on electicity. If I have it, that will be great, but if those food spoiled, I don't want to have an even worse crisis. Canned meats like roast beef and chicken are fine in salads and over dried potato flakes- mashed potatoes and gravy. Increase those and make them part of the regular diet so that they get rotated. There is no way to store fresh milk. It's something you'll have to let go of so be prepared for that. I store dry milk in a quantity as if I were drinking it as well. I d0n't drink it so I've found that I have too much of that. I need enough to make bread, have cereal, make mashed potatoes etc. I used to by a gallon or two of fresh milk weekly. Now it's a quart of mixed dried milk for the week. The butter lasted a long time- thanks for the lesson, Elijah, but it's another thing to prepare to do without. Are there any recipies in regular rotation that require it? Test out butter solids and learn to deal with your breads and pancakes served without butter. The pretzels and mustard were nice, the crescent rolls with tuna and mayonaise were nice.

Seeds- They have saved my sanity! If you don't have seeds in storage you are foolish. If you have them in storage and you have never grown a garden, you are foolish. Gardens should be a regular part of a prepared family's life. Learn what works and what doesn't, what you like and don't like, how to prepare it for consumption. Gardens are crucial! I'm actually going to look into the feasability of keeping a few chickens too.

This experiment has changed my thinking dramatically. I'm not a nut case survivalist, I just want to be as comfortable as possible in a crisis and opt out of the plague if you will, by staying safe at home. Weekly trips to the grocery store will be a thing of the past. I may change to monthly. I may increase garden capacity and get better at preserving and canning. I can make jam and jerky but that's about it. I'm going to review favorite recipies that go into a monthly rotation and make sure I have all ingredients to continue to make those recipies.

I've saved about $1400 on groceries this last 81 days. That still considers what was spent on the dried long-term storage items- it's pennies on the dollar. That is a substantial savings.

I did have a bit of a meltdown Sunday night. I just had a hankerin for some junkfood while watching The Amazing Race. There was just nothing in the house. Popcorn without butter wasn't too appealing. No butter to make cookies. I ended up having a bowl of cream of wheat with some chocolate chips. It took the edge off I guess. Yesterday- made cookies with a marachino cherry, some Chinese dried noodles, some melted chocolate chips and some almonds. I think I'll live until next week!


Cynthia said...

1.Your garden is gorgeous.
2.I'm amazed at this whole experiement.
3. We are not nearly prepared enough. (sadly we have LOTS of non-food essentials stored, but not adequate actual food)
4. I've been canning chicken lately. Surprisingly easy to do.
5.Your descriptions of dishes you cook are mouthwatering.
6. Cream of wheat is not a great evening snack though.
7. Mexican food for Thanksgiving??
8. Keep us posted on how the tomatos do through the winter.
9. Where do you get butter solids?
10. We love Amazing Race too.

Laura Ross said...

Curtis, I find this both insane and awesome. :) I don't have a lot of time so I haven't read every entry but I did ask Lesa some questions in California. Unfortunately, we have had to use our food storage to help us get through winters at different times throughout our married life. I am a believer and grateful for the lessons I learn every time we depend on it, though we have always been able to go to the store for fresh stuff so I think your experiment is a great learning tool for us that really don't want to participate in the experiment. We may be adventurous to try our 72 hour kit though. Good luck in the last week!

rich and steph said...

I need some lessons in gardening!! Seriously, if you ever have the time I would love tips about where to put it, how to prepare the soil and the best things to plant that 5 kids would eat.

Curtis Whipple said...

Rich and Steph- Garden tours on Sunday afternoons, 5 cents. Kids in strollers get in free.

Green Acres said...

Curtis I am so impressed! I'm also feeling a bit guilty. We have a garden, we bottle green beans, tomatoes, and beets. We buy fresh corn, boil it, cut it off the cob and put it in small freezer bags, tastes fresh that way. Also we raise cows, so we have plenty of meat. However, there is so much more I need to do!! We are looking into getting a chicken coop,because if not, the fox get them. Anyway I'm going to have Mark read this, and I think next fall after our harvest, we'll attempt your experiment! Milk will be the hardest thing to go without...maybe we'll have to get a milk cow. lol. We do have a small farm....come visit! Thanks again! You're awesome!