Houses used to come with pantries, and our great-grandparents used to keep them stocked for the winter and against emergencies. These days we’re lucky to have enough kitchen cabinets, and culturally we’ve gotten out of the habit of putting food by. Food stores are an important component of earthquake readiness kits – and with the uncertain economy it wouldn’t hurt to have a winter’s worth of eatables squirreled away. Our 1980s split level house didn’t come with a pantry so we repurposed the closet under the stairs. Alex and I cleaned out the usual under-stairs-closet odds and ends into other storage spaces or out to Goodwill. Then we designed the pantry shelves. With the slanted roof we had to think through what size shelves we wanted. I knew I wanted large shelves on the back wall, the only wall adjacent to the exterior of the house. I figured it was … Continue reading

The Backyard Homestead

From the cover: “Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! Eat from the garden year-round with fresh veggies and homemade preserves. Make omelets from eggs laid by your own chickens. Pick fruits and berries from your back door.” This great little book shows up at bookstores all around town. It’s a pretty complete reference, covering gardening, growing fruit trees, raising animals, and foraging. Charming line drawings illustrate techniques like staking tomatoes, drying strawberries, grinding grain. My favorite part of the book is the section with plans for how to arrange what you grow, on half an acre, a quarter acre, or a tenth of an acre. The drawings really helped me picture what I could do with various sites on my own property. If you want to have anything to do with growing your own food, this book will have an idea that will get you … Continue reading

This week in food

Chicken: baked a chicken – this time I coated with butter and rosemary and baked in a pan with 1/2 cup white wine. Dinners: baked chicken, roast potatoes and green beans. Chicken pot pie. Baked salmon served with roasted root vegetables – fingerling potatoes, parsnips and beets coated with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Soups: we’re still eating the roast beef stew, white beans flavored with pork, summer squash soup, and corn potato soup I made and froze earlier this month. We eat these for lunch and for individual dinners. Preserving: Put up a dozen ears of corn while I was making the pot pie. Made another quart of chicken stock from the baked chicken carcass. Dried a pound of chanterelles I picked up at the Bremerton Farmer’s Market. Prepped food for a party: two banana blueberry loaves to serve with pear butter; boiled eggs for stuffed eggs; and tried … Continue reading

Fresh corn season

Catch it while you can, we get such a small window to eat fresh corn on the cob! It’s so easy to put up too, it takes literally fifteen minutes. Here’s what you do: Pick up 12 ears, say from Paul of Gregory Farm. Boil water in soup pot or blancher. Drop corn in for 3 minutes. Clean sink, fill with cold water and ice cubes. Drop corn in the sink – this shocks it and stops it cooking further, and also makes it cool enough to handle. Stand the corn cob up on a cutting board and slice down the sides to take the niblets off the cob. Put the cob in yard waste. Put the niblets in quart size bags, label, and freeze. If you’re thrifty you can save the corn water to make corn and potato chowder. Links: Gregory Farm … Continue reading