Monday, October 08, 2007

I've been reading

I've been a lazy blogger lately. I've been busy. And when I'm not really busy, I'm working my way through a wonderful b-day present from the Duchess of Narberth (Hey!).

I'm only about 4 chapters into Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, but I am certainly in bliss. The nutshell: Barbara and family move onto their farm and live of the land and eat locally for one year. Interspersed through this memoir are foodie factoids, antitodal stories and recipes. I love it.

I love it because this is where I came from. Soon after I turned 10, my mom packed me up and we joined her soon to be fiance, soon to be husband and we moved out of the city and into the deep Wisconsin wilderness where we "lived off the land."

As a ten year old city boy, this had a lot of appeal. Small mountains (hills really), creeks and streams, woods...I could explore for days. But the appeal soon wore off. We moved 12/31/8x (I don't remember the year.) It was fridged cold. I'm not talking 40s, 30s, 20s...I'm talking -20s, -30s...suck! There was no electric heat in the house we moved to. And since no one was living wood for the wood stove. FREEZING COLD! Shortly after we got in, we started getting firewood and had a warm house. We had a great wood burning stove in the kitchen, which provide a lot of the heat for the house. And soon, my mom discovered how to cook with the wood stove.

Then we started gardening when the spring came. Rocks, rocks and more rocks...When I see TV shows or movies of frontiersmen/women tilling the land...I am with my brothers and sisters...that's some hard work.

As the spring sun warmed the soil, the plants started to sprout. This was exciting! We grew green beans in the city schools...but then they died. Again, the excitment soon faded as the spring sun turned to the summer heat that sweltered and wilted even the toughest plants. And the many weeds. I wanted to play in the creeks and streams, not the dry earth.

After nearly 6 years, and lots of back issues of Mother Earth News, we figured out what to do and how to do it. What started as a barely turned field of rocks and some soil turned into 7+ individual gardens of the freshest produce, herbs and flowers. We canned, dehydrated, perserved, froze and devoured the fruits of our labors.

As I have gotten more and more into cooking over the past several years, gaining wisdom, I look back to what I experienced as a kid with a much greater appreciation and a certain amount of longing. I wouldn't mind going back to a time when the only thing we picked up at the grocery store was milk (and some junk food, I was a kid after all!), knowing that everything else was coming from our gardens and the animals we raised, hunted or fished.

Barbara Kingsolver's book is allowing me to relive parts of my youth, long forgotten and generally unappreciated, with much vigor and vast amounts of jealousy. Pick up the book when you have a chance and enjoy a families experience to get back to the roots of food production and consumption.

(When I get a minute, I have some passages of the book that I have underlined/highlighted that I want to share. Stay tuned.)

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