“Cornbread and butter beans, and you across the table”*

I keep finding reasons to put off my post about our meals; I’m waiting for some fabulous meal I know we are planning, or I keep forgetting to take pictures of the meals, or something else just comes up that I want to write about instead.  But today I realized, I can simply do multiple posts about food – it doesn’t have to be the one great food post of 2010.  This is a blog, after all.  I don’t have to get it all down perfectly the first time.

Coffee cake, farm-fresh egg, homemade yogurt from Goldy's milk, with fresh strawberries from a neighbor's garden

Seems like we are pretty much always thinking about food here, which anyone who knows me well would say suits me perfectly.  It isn’t just thinking in anticipation of the next tasty meal we’ll prepare with all these fresh, locally (as in, about 25 yards from the house)-raised ingredients, though there is a lot of eager enjoyment at mealtime.  It isn’t just thinking creatively and thriftily about how to use what we have, though we’re having a lot of fun with that too.  It is also the simple fact that everything we do, every day – whether turning compost, mowing a pasture, petting the calf, picking beetles off the asparagus, or keeping moles out of the peas – is about the food that sustains a family.

Tomato tart, lambsquarters pie, and farm-fresh egg, with milk from Goldy

From the very beginning, the moment we touch a seed or pet a calf, it is about food. We’re thinking about how to maximize the yield, how to “put by” for the winter, how to keep toxic chemicals out of our bodies and the environment, how to treat the animals that will provide meat as humanely as possible, how to use the garden beds this year to improve them for next year.  This may seem quite obvious, that working on a farm would be all about food.  But when you are used to eating out 2-3 times a week as we were in Albuquerque (not something we are proud of, but something we enjoyed immensely), it is easy to not be mindful of what you are eating: what is in it, where it came from, how it was raised, and how much work went into getting it to your oversized fancy restaurant dinner plate.  Ever seen those bumper stickers that say “No farms, No food”?  Isn’t it strange that we should need that ridiculously obvious message?  But I remember distinctly the last time I saw that bumper sticker feeling like it was a revelation.

At any rate, you’ll get a lot more on the ethos of the kind of farming we’re doing here from T in his recent posts on permaculture.  I meant this post to be fun, not preachy.  And I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m having fun thinking so much about food – imagining how good the butternut squash will be and all the ways I could prepare it, the crunch of the cucumber, the fragrance of the sun-warmed, vine-ripened tomato, the sweet waxy feel of fresh cream on the tongue, and yes – appreciating how good homegrown grass-fed beef can taste.

Home-grown, grass-fed beef tenderloin with garden salad and garlic sauteed lambsquarters

And for someone who ate out 2-3 times a week before, learning to make use of what we have, and – gasp – use leftovers, is a big change.  It’s embarrassing to admit – I know some of you (especially in our parents’ generation, but not exclusively them) have always been thinking in this way.  My parents are probably shaking their heads wondering what happened, since I was raised by an excellent cook who knew how to do all these things well and hardly ever, it seemed, had to throw away some left-over or vegetable that had grown a new life-form in a dark corner of the fridge.  Maybe I’m idealizing my memories.  But I’m having a lot of fun and imagining my parents and grandparents being very proud of me as I use last night’s mashed potatoes as a base for potato pancakes this morning, or extra sautéed onions and mushrooms from this morning’s omelet as toppings for my sandwich at lunch, or sautéed lambsquarters as a side-dish for dinner and then as filling for a quiche.  You get the idea.

Quiche with lambsquarters, smoked gouda, and tomatoes

Pancakes with homemade butter, farm-fresh egg omelet with leftover filling (sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and lambsquarters)

A lot of what we are using so far are things that M put by from last year.  We’ve had a wonderful home-canned vegetable soup that M says contained just about everything from her garden last year.

Home-canned garden vegetable soup, with grocery bought watermelon and corn

There are lots of shallots and garlic from last year too, which we enjoy in just about everything.  Another community member has an apple orchard, so we’ve had lots of applesauce and apple butter, one of my favorite condiments on the planet.  Lots of last year’s beef is still in the freezer, and we’ve had an amazing roast, tenderloin, a little ground beef, and home-canned marinara meat sauce, which we put on pasta, sloppy-joe sandwiches, and mixed in with soups.

Home-canned beef-tomato marinara on pasta with homemade mango jello and lambsquarters salad

In addition to lambsquarters, the garden has already put out lettuce, a little asparagus, and some snap peas.

Garden lettuce with garden snap peas, feta, store-bought carrots

Things are going to really get cooking, so to speak, when the vegetable garden starts to crank out tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, beans, beets, broccoli, watermelon, squash, potatoes, chard, collards, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, garlic, onions, and shallots.  You already know about the rooster, which I have great plans for, and we’ll be having more chicken soon.

I suppose any post on meals is only appropriately ended with dessert.

Handpicked wild strawberry ice cream, homemade from Goldy's milk

*  “Cornbread and Butter Beans”, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, album “Genuine Negro Jig” 2009 – please check out this amazing band – they have a really cool story and I am currently obsessed with them.

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7 Responses to “Cornbread and butter beans, and you across the table”*

  1. Emily says:

    Oh, yum, yum, freakin yum!!!

  2. Amity says:

    Wow — looks delicious! I love reading about what you guys are eating!

  3. Amazing! How do lambsquarters taste?

    • teeandzee says:

      Lambsquarters are a pretty mild green. Maybe a teeny bit more bitter than spinach, but not as bitter as kale, collards, or mustard. You can pretty much use them as a substitute for anything you’d use spinach in. They are mild enough to eat raw as a salad, but make a good filler or cooked side dish.

  4. Fun reading about the food!

  5. LORI B says:

    OMG. What a great post. My parents are depression-era, and I LOVE potato pancakes made from leftover mashed potatoes. It was a staple in our house growing up!

    This is the real “gourmet” food. Read any real French cookbook and you will find these things. Americans think that “gourmet” means highly expensive, first time use, etc., but the French or Italians have many recipes that use “leftovers” (I bet American culture is the only one that degrades previously cooked food). We call “weeds” the things that other cultures consider delicacies!

    • teeandzee says:

      So true, Lori! H & M tell me that a lot of the wild foods we are eating, as well as cuts of meat and parts of garden veggies that we don’t typically eat in America, are considered delicacies in other countries. I do sometimes feel like I’m living in a little European hamlet, and our meals definitely remind me of the meals my Italian host mother, Signora Giovanelli, made for me when I lived in Florence. I imagine that will especially be so when the tomatoes and basil are ready to harvest! Yum…I can hardly wait.

      Thanks so much for following along and for your comment! I love that our experiences are bringing up memories for people or reflecting what they are doing in their own homes. T says we need to return to depression-era mentality when it comes to our food and environmental sustainability in general. I tend to agree.

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