15 December 2011

Making it work in the 'burbs

In keeping with this "make use of what you have" theme, I'd like to share a resource that I have found invaluable:

There are many books covering urban farming and homesteading, but this is the one I have and I love it.  One of my new favorite recipes is in here, which is a powerhouse pancake using coconut oil, spelt flour, buttermilk, and a ton of eggs.  We make it for dinner, and I feel completely satisfied for the night, which is significant coming from this Evening Snacker.  I've also made crackers, yogurt, and have plans to try my hand at spelt tortillas.

I use this book to plan my container garden, because I for one did not know onions are good container plants.  Call me crazy, but I just figured that plants that grow below the ground need more depth than a container can provide.  I have also found the monthly timeline in the back of the book helpful, as the climate in NL is similar to the pacific northwest where the authors live.

The section that describes different grains and how they are used has enabled me to get creative with some of my own recipes, as I now know how to make good substitutions for basic white flour.

And talk about inspiration?  Throughout the book, there are profiles of homesteaders, highlighting what they do best.  While the book is big and could be daunting, it is laid out in a way that makes it a useful reference for whatever you want to know.

Here are a couple favorite quotes from the authors:

From Annette Cottrell (who lives on acreage in rural Carnation, Washington):  "The sheer number of hours I spend preparing food for my family has, at times, seemed absurd even to me, and has definitely shocked others.  But what I've found is that with experience, I've become efficient and organized.

...But I've discovered in the same way that tying a shoe feels impossible to a preschooler but is second nature to an adult, coordinating kitchen experiments, preparing meals, and managing a kitchen garden and livestock have become second nature to me."

From Joshua McNichols (who lives on a 5,000 square foot lot in Seattle, Washington):  "When I tell people that we're grinding our own wheat, slaughtering our own chickens, and buying directly from farmers instead of shopping at grocery stores, they often ask, Is it worth it?  
That is a tricky question to answer because the answer isn't something you can lay out in a clear, cost-benefit analysis.  My family now eats better food for less money, but we also work harder to get that food.  If this were just about the food, I'd burn out.  But it's not just about the food.

...As human beings, we have an obligation to share what we love with the people we love.  
...Food doesn't have to be that bad.  When finely raised and finely wrought, food achieves a higher value. It is alive, not only biologically, but semantically, as each meal carries with it a story--a story steeped in our values, a story that communicates who we are and where we fit in the larger world.  These stories have allowed me to feel at home in the city."

I completely identify with both of these statements.  As I become more efficient in the kitchen, I feel confident to make another change.  As I find a new recipe using less refined grains and more whole foods, or when I alter an existing recipe and am met with loud praises from even my most finicky eater, I realize the effort is worth it.

It is worth it to savor every bite.  I no longer have the urge to put more and more mediocre food into my mouth, because I am satisfied with what I am eating.  Not because I am a gourmet cook (you should see my menu plan!), but because I am a simple cook who takes the time to make real food with quality ingredients.

While the internet is full of valuable resources for making a change, I highly recommend this book to give well organized and practical information for growing, raising, or preparing your own food.  It is well worth the investment.

**Disclosure** I was in no way compensated for this book review.  However, if you click on the graphic of the book at the top of this post, I will receive a portion of your purchase price as an Amazon affiliate.


  1. Thanks for spotlighting this book. I've seen it at Barnes' & Noble. Now I'll have to check it out for myself. Those pancakes sound so yummy!

  2. The pancakes are amazing and very filling. Enjoy!

  3. Tracey thanks so much for this! I was just scanning the entries from last week's SLT for this week's pick and found this. I'm so glad my book has helped you out!! xo, Annette

  4. Wow - thanks Annette. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I had no idea I'd have the author reading what I wrote about her book.