Archive for July 13th, 2008

Independence Days Update: Focus on Managing Reserves

Sharon July 13th, 2008

Hi Everyone – this will be my last ID update until August – since I’m doing so much about food preservation, and trying only to write online four days a week, I feel like I have no time to write content posts about other stuff between this responsibility, the book club and all the material for the class, so I’m going to use Sundays to write Peak oil and Climate change content for a couple of weeks, and come back to it when I’m not writing so much about preserving anyway.  I’m thinking that I may go to once every other week or once a month anyway – not in practice, because I think the “do something everyday” thinking has been helpful, but I’m worried that more people seem to think that my lists are intimidating than they do helpful, so maybe I’ll back off a bit, and just keep reminding us.

 On to my subject of the week – Managing Your Reserves!  This is important stuff – you do all this work – you spend the money to buy the food, you do the work to preserve it, you put up, you put it away – and you do not want to lose it.  That means that your food needs your attention every so often – probably not super often – that’s the whole virtue of storing things, but often enough.  Root cellared things need to be checked and sorted out, and things that are starting to spoil removed and cooked or eaten.  Canned goods need their seals checked every so often and for you to keep an eye out for rust and other damage.  Dried things need to be kept away from light.  Old stuff needs to be eaten before the new stuff comes in (have I mentioned how labelling is helpful yet ;-) ?).  Some stuff will need to be composted or fed to an appropriate critter now and again. 

 Some people organize their reserves by spread sheet, some people with paper and pen – but you do need some system.  If you write down how many containers of frozen chicken stock you have, you won’t spend all afternoon taking the freezer apart looking for that one when you used the last one last week.  I’ll do a whole post on potential organizational systems, but the major issue is this – just as the gardener’s shadow is the best garden fertilizer, so too is the food preserver’s shadow the key to actually getting to eat and enjoy what you have.  So, yes I know it seems kind of pointless, but make the time to do inventory, check supplies, look in the buckets, sort out the rotten apple that really will spoil the whole barrel.

 Ok, onward and upwards.  My weekly accomplishments:

 1. Planted: Saskatoons, betony, st. johns wort, arugula, beets, carrots, turnips, bush beans, cabbage, yarrow, bok choy, marshmallow, edible chrysanthemum, basil.

2. Harvested: Cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, cousa squash, beets, carrots, lettuce, parsley, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, basil, mint, onions, broccoli, green garlic.

3. Preserved: Rhubarb sauce, strawberry jam, strawberry sauce, herbs in salt

4. Stored: Picked up a big bag of nutritional yeast (good for grownups, good for critters) and packed it away, and some more tea (actually for my Mom, but she visits so often that I’ll keep some of it).  Added 10lbs more local honey to reserves.

5. Prepped: We finally cleaned out the haybarn that has been filled with the stuff from Eric’s grandparents that we had no idea what to do with for a couple of years.  Most of it will be given to our synagogue yard sale or thrown out (unfortunately, a lot of it isn’t give away-able – they brought *EVERYTHING* they owned – Eric’s grandmother was too overwhelmed by caring for his grandfather to sort things out), but we found some treasure (badminton and croquet sets, fishing equipment, a few additional garden tools – neat).  More importantly, we can now put umm…hay in there for the goats, which are coming just as soon as the fencing is up.  But the fencing couldn’t go up until we cleaned the barn because the posts are in there… So we’re getting there.

6. Managed reserves.  Cleaned food storage closet – partly.  Hope to finish tonight.  Inventory will begin soon - I shoulda done it in the spring, but was too busy with the book.  

7. Cooked something new – tried out a new whole wheat pizza crust – it was ok, but not as good as our fave.  

8. Reduced waste - the annual wave of fruit flies has made me religious about partially eaten fruit going to worms, chickens, sheep or compost pile. Not fast enough, unfortunately.  Cleaned out hay barn so that our neighbor with the horses can minimize her waste of hay – she was losing a lot to rain, and can now use our barn.  Anything rained on I get free for my garden, which is great.

9. Worked on local food systems: Gave a private tutorial to one of my food storage students so that she could take her lessons back to her community ;-). (ok, my college buddy Bess came for the weekend and in between gossip, I showed her how to water bath can rhubarb sauce – but it sounds better the other way).  Talked a bit about getting more local foods into my shul’s kosher catering program.

Ok, how about y’all?

 Sharon