I was recently accused, via a post on facebook, of Food Insanity. Oh, the poster did not call it that, but I don’t think it’s a stretch. This happened by way of a link to a blog post at Northwest Edible Life: The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater. While it’s a funny post, and parts of it hit rather close to home, I don’t think we’re quite that far gone yet.
I could try to argue that we’re saving money by growing our own, but any savings from the garden are more than offset by the price of the goats and chickens and their hay and grain. Forget the $64 tomato; we’re somewhere in the range of the $140 pound of (fresh, artisan, organic) ricotta and the $20 (fresh, free-range, organic) egg. I’m sure we could buy groceries, even organic ones, for less.
The truth is, we do this because we love it. Hubby has never been happier with his ‘job’, and I am happy with my low-stress husband. We get to play in the dirt, keep cool pets like goats and alpacas, and hang out in the sunshine without having our view spoiled by fences or neighbours. Rather than going to the gym, we get our workouts digging in the garden, pruning trees, picking berries, hauling water, and pitching bales. At the end of all of that, we actually have something to show for it, too, which is a nice benefit. We are both happier, and more relaxed, since we moved to the country; this is a lifestyle that suits us well, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we got pregnant just six months after moving here, despite all the issues we’d had before.
For instance, a couple of days ago, we spent a lovely sunny afternoon picking chokecherries along a neighbour’s lane. Last year, we picked mostly here at the acreage, but the storm in June took out quite a few of our chokecherry trees, and blocked our access to many more with fallen trees and debris. The neighbours have tons of bushes that are easily accessible, and had no plans to pick them; we spent a relaxing couple of hours gathering a few gallons of berries. They were happy to let us at them, for the promise of a pint or two of chokecherry syrup later, once it cools down enough to do the processing.
(This is where I wax poetic about homestead food. You can’t get chokecherry syrup in the store, and I have never seen chokecherries for sale…)
Recipe: Chokecherry Syrup
For this recipe, you need chokecherry juice. If you are lucky like me and inherited a steam juicer, this is not a problem. For the rest of the poor folks in the world, though, you have to do a little bit of extra work. Boil the berries for a few minutes in just a little bit of water, and crush them up as best you can with a potato masher to release the juice. Put the whole mess in a strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth, positioned over a bowl or bucket to catch the juice, and let drain overnight.
For the syrup, mix 3 cups of chokecherry juice with 6 1/2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute, then ladle into jars. Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.
We serve warmed chokecherry syrup over pancakes. It’s a great Saturday morning treat on a cold winter day!
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