Saturday, November 8, 2008

What being a Pioneer means to me

Yesterday was cold and rainy. The laundry is still out on the line. However I was busy in the kitchen. It was time to take care of the tomatoes that were beginning to rot in their baskets, time for fresh bread, time for fresh yogurt made from the fresh milk from the cow.

I made spaghetti sauce from the last of the season's fresh tomatoes that ripened in the kitchen, you can see the last of the onions frying in the pan before going into the sauce.

I made meatballs from a combination of an elk shot "up on ta mount'n", and my neighbor's friend's cow we bought together. I mixed them with herbs from the garden, bread crumbs from stale bread, and egg (store bought because my hens aren't laying) and the moisture was the chicken (foot) stock I made earlier.

I had bought fresh milk last night and skimmed the cream off this morning and made yogurt. Mr. Greenjeans was home and DD14 wasn't feeling well so he did her job of grinding the grain for the bread.

I eventually got the sauce down to one pot which required us to eat some for dinner(I could really use a large stainless stock pot). This picture shows the yogurt maker and the fresh bread as well.

I canned the sauce at 13 lbs for 25 minutes and lovely Mr. Greenjeans cleaned the kitchen.

During the day he also made a hole in the chain link fence so that the chickens now have access to the yard from their rather small run. The trick will be to keep the dogs from harming them, but we can close the fence again too. Now that it's cold the dogs are inside a lot.

In some ways I didn't do so well with the pioneer challenge - I didn't always walk to my office, Mr Greenjeans and I went out to dinner at a new Mexican food restaurant that has just opened. But then again I think I'm living the pioneer challenge. We go out to dinner so very rairly that it was a real treat for all of us to go celebrate - and the food was good. Driving? Well, sometimes I'm just lazy and that has to get addressed at some point.

Even though these things are just the day to day for us, I love this challenge because as things go to hell in a hand basket, we are going to have to remember our pioneering spirit. People may have lost skills, but some still remember and others will figure out new and innovative ways to get things done. The new frontier is not clean and open land they way it once was, but rather how we begin new lives once the card house of our economy and oil experience has come down. It is the pioneering spirit that lies dormant in people of all nations and races that will once again come alive when needed.


mnultraguy said...

I agree about having a hard time with Pioneer week, as we live a very frugal life, so it was like normal.

Hausfrau said...

That sauce looks sooooo good. Got a recipe? Also, what do you use for your yogurt maker?

LisaZ said...

Your hens are beautiful! And the stove photos look so productive. Yummy, too.

I really like your last paragraph. We aren't "going back" to how things were in the Pioneer times, but we sure do need our pioneering spirit as we confront the challenges ahead.

And we're terribly lazy still about driving, too. Esp. when the temps went from 60s one week to the 20s this week. Brrrr!

Verde said...

Frau, I put the tomatoes through a food mill (I chop them up and cook them a little first so they process more easily). Then start cooking the watery tomatoes down to a thick sause. For 8 Quarts I used a bulb and a half of fresh garlic (not cloves but bulbs), 5 onions (because that's what I had), dried oregano leaf (1/4 C maybe?) and about the same of basil. Then just a little bit of marjorim, thyme, celery seed. Oh, and I added quite a bit of red wine (both to the cook and the sauce).

I use a yogurt maker I bought from a cooking store and use high quality store bought yogurt for a starter. Since buyig the yogurt maker, I have had just as good luck putting the milk and starter into jam jars in an insulated "cooler" filled with pretty hot water.

Lisa, I knew where the real pioneer started and I left off when I didn't choose to walk below freezing! Of course if this were the real deal, then I'd deal - I bought the family good boots when we moved to this climate and got a little money together. In fact that was our first purchase.

I'm crazy about those hens, I like to just watch them.

Matriarchy said...

Ain't ready to Pioneer, yet. Ain't got no chickens. :-)

You were very busy in the kitchen! Elk meatballs... I'm impressed.

I'm still struggling to really make bread and yogurt on a schedule. The yogurt "starter" I set aside from each batch keeps pooping out, and I have to keep buying little cups of plain yogurt to restart every second or third batch. Gotta figure out why.

fullfreezer said...

I'm with you on pioneer week. Except for the entertainment piece- We live like that most of the time. Oh, I made more things from scratch- like making my own pasta- usually I'm too lazy or time crunched.
But I agree with your ideas about the pioneer spirit. I don't think (and I really hope not!) that things will get back to covered wagon and no electricity times, but you never know- and survival skills, cooking included are important. It's important for each of us to take personal stock on occasion and see where we are.

Robj98168 said...

What makes folks so sure there weren't restaurants and cafes during the pioneer days- because I think there were. And from what I know of my ancestors they ate at the cafe everyday for supper (noon meal) in fact they wouldn't have considered not eating there as it was a social time, as well as "spreading the wealth around" supporting a local business. That is also an important part of pioneering- support your local baker, cheesemaker, candlestick maker as well as dry goods operator.

Tara said...

Ahem. Okay - a few things.

1. My kitchen is NOWHERE near that tidy when I'm cooking/canning!
2. Your meatballs look delish!
3. I have mad envy for your American Gothic "lawn chickens".

Verde said...


Ha! I almost took a picture of the sink area but Mr. Green jeans was just too efficient. *Believe me*, this is not an overly clean place.

Yea, those American Gothic chickens came with the house. Pretty funny seeing a chicken looking them in the eye. Last winter they were so buried in snow that we only knew spring was coming when their head began to show.

Gracie said...

LOL, I so agree on the clean kitchen. My kitchen is so small that I cannot can, cook and make bread at the same time. There simply isn't enough counter space. I need a new kitchen, lol. NOT a very pioneering thought there, or on second thought, maybe it is!

Love the pics and the stories that go along with it. Kudos on your accomplishments.

Diana R.Smith said...

In Little House on the Prarie Ma cooked at a cafe...seemed like a popular place to meet. Of course, when they went to town they'd make a day of it buying supplies,seeing friends--you,sometimes,have to refresh your spirit along with your larder!

I think the pioneer spirit is the most important...if you have the skills of baking,canning,gardening,etc. no one can take them away may choose to use your time in another fashion now but if things got hard enough you'd be able to survive and flourish. DEE

CM said...

I'll encourage you on the pot purchase. My dad bought me a 12 Quart stockpot with the extra thick bottom. I LOVE that pot and it gets a ton of use. It is worth every penny he paid for it. I think it was close to $100 over 8 years ago. I have friends who borrow it too ;o)