Archive for September 26th, 2008

Friday Food Storage Quickie: Week 3

Sharon September 26th, 2008

Ok, so far we’ve added pasta, popcorn, orange veggies and dried fruit.  This week, we’re adding legumes and herbs and spices.

I know you already probably have some beans or peas in your food storage, but this week, I encourage you to get something leguminous you like to eat, but don’t store.  It is so easy to just buy one kind of bean or pea at the most – all navy beans or all split peas or something.  But the range of tastes and textures involved is really quite vast and wonderful.  So even if you are primarily relying on one thing, maybe add a little extra for variety – some 16 bean mix, chana dal, anasazi or Jacob’s cattle beans, or even some nice black soybeans.  The more you vary your legumes, the less it feels like “beans and rice…again?!?!” 

 What are the best sources of interesting legumes?  Well, in some areas you may be able to get local beans or peas worth trying – Maine Yellow Eye, Southern Cowpeas….  Indian, caribbean and asian grocery stores are excellent sources of inexpensive legumes, as are coops and supermarket bulk bins.  And if you have a little money to spare and are really adventurous, seedsavers.org has beans available on their sites, showcasing dozens of rare heirlooms.  And don’t forget to pick up some seed to grow some for next year.

Next up, herbs and spices.  You are not going to be happy eating grain and legume meals unless you can vary them using seasonings.  And since asian, indian and caribbean grocers are such great sources of interesting legumes, you might as well take some time to check out their spice offerings while you are there.  They are one of the cheapest sources out there for seasonings – and they often sell whole spices which keep much, much longer than ground ones.

Coops and bulk stores, odd lots stores, drug- and dollar stores are all great sources of inexpensives herbs and spices.  Think quantities here – you aren’t going to flavor a big pot of lentils and pasta with a teaspoon of curry powder – cooking lots of staple foods means using a lot of seasonings.  So if money is tight, look for the ways to get lots of bang for your buck.  Obviously, if you can afford it, buy fair trade and organic when you can.

Of course, many herbs can be harvested in  your garden – or someone else’s.  Seriously, consider asking a neighbor who gardens if they ever have extra herbs – most of us have mints and oreganos that regularly try and take up more space than they are allotted.  You can take rooted cuttings and plant them and any trimmings and dry them for winter.  Plants can be brought inside for winter or the dry season as well. 

Other seasoning plants can often be found in the wild – wild onions and garlic dry beautifully for garlic and onion powder, and many herbs have naturalized into landscapes – wild thyme ranges free here, as do several mints, while other flavoring herbs have also escaped in other regions. Harvest reponsibly, of course.

This week’s extra is not a tool – it is a medical basic – the tetanus shot.  Just like it is wise to keep your flashlights charged and ready, IMHO, anyone living sustainably and playing the dirt needs a current tetanus shot going into the crisis.  I know there are those who don’t vaccinate – personally, I feel strongly that this should be the exception for anyone who works or plays in the dirt, works with tools or does any of the other things that we’re all doing. We vaccinate selectively, but our kids always have a current tetanus shot.

 Keep it updated – tetanus is a horrible disease endemic in the soil.  So if you can’t remember when you last had a tetanus shot, now is the time to get an update – and to check on everyone else in the family.  This is especially the time to push a little for teenagers and young adults who might otherwise just skip it. So please, please consider getting updated – who knows how long we will all be able  to do this.

 Ok, have a great weekend everyone!

 Sharon