Daydreaming

It’s Sunday, but I don’t really have a garden update for you. We got a lot of rain this week which both prevented me from planting anything outside and from tending to the soil. I know the earthworms are moving around though because the birds keep landing on our fence and swooping down to the soil. The most noteworthy event that happened outside is I got Alex to trim off a few of the tree branches that were blocking some of the morning sunlight to our garden plot. 

Nevertheless, once the rain clouds blew over, we made sure to spend time outside, and this weekend we did a few fun things that we thought we’d share with you.

First, we enjoyed a lovely dinner with our friends Scott and Nicole who served us delicious meatballs made from local meats in tomato sauce with mushrooms over gluten-free pasta…

…while the cat joined us under the table:

It’s not often that someone else cooks for us so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Thanks, Scott and Nicole – it was delicious!

Then Alex and I visited the Frontier Culture Museum where we learned about different ways of farm life from various European and African cultures from the 1600s on through 1850s America. I love this place. The last time I visited I was in 4th grade and even then I loved imagining myself living on a farm. This time around I felt I am old enough to synthesize what I know about life and historical events to put everything into the big picture, and while that was utterly fascinating to me, we also couldn’t help falling in love with some of the animals wandering around:

And we got some ideas for remodeling our kitchen:

Kidding. That’s what my kitchen might have looked like 300 years ago – hah. Quite a bit different, eh?

And we did eat on this adventure of ours: a pizza at Shenandoah Pizza in downtown Staunton followed by a banana-caramel-cookies and cream cup of gelato at The Split Banana.

And so, inspired by the warm weather, the farm examples, and very probably our pleasant windchimes which have been singing all weekend, what I’ve been daydreaming about is self-sufficiency: getting by with less, and doing  more things myself – growing things, preserving food, making things – and generally being able to provide for myself by improving my relationship with the land and my ability to live frugally. And so I’ve been inspired by a few bloggers that you might be interested in checking out: The Pioneer Woman, Living the Frugal Life, and The Really Good Life for starters. 

My handsome fiance, fishing

You wouldn’t happen to know anyone selling a quaint, updated farmhouse with a little bit of workable land, would you? 

I’m kidding. Sort of. I don’t think we can really afford that right now. But that is what I daydream about. Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s a lot of work to grow enough food to feed your family comfortably. But it’s simultaneously motivating and rewarding.

And while it’s not really my intention at this point in time to blog to you about self-sufficiency and frugal living (there are plenty of other bloggers out there who are far more experienced at it than I), the subject does tend to come up every now and then even here because, to some extent, eating well – eating smart, that is – is about making the most of what you have, eating in season, and minimizing waste. And that is something yummy and that has a place on It Started with Yum

So one of the first things I’m doing in my journey to self-sufficiency, in addition to stretching my garden muscles, is beginning to keep track of the food we eat. Not just the recipes that I post on here, I’m talking about the raw products (how many potatoes did we eat this week? how many eggs? how many heads of lettuce? how much meat? etc) so that I can begin to calculate how much I might need to grow in order to not have to buy produce. It’s a long-term goal, sure, but I’m also curious to see what our eating habits look like over the course of a year. 

In the spirit of making do, here’s a simple meal you can pull together with leftovers you likely have around.

Veal Meatballs in Tomato Buttermilk Sauce (inspired by this New York Times soft-shell crabs recipe)
Yum Factor: Alex – 6.5, Jessalyn – 6 

– about 5 meatballs per person (I had some veal meatballs in my freezer from the last time I made them a few weeks ago; click to review a meatball recipe – replace the meat with veal, replace soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil with a tablespoon of dijon mustard)
– about 1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce per person
– about 1/4 cup buttermilk per person
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin

1. Cook the meatballs in a skillet or bake them in the oven.

2. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in a saucepot on the stove. Add the cumin. Slowly stir in the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer before adding the meatballs.

I served ours over couscous into which I mixed some sliced green onions. (Have you made couscous before? It seriously takes 5 minutes once the water is boiling. Fantastic). This meal was about using up what I had in the freezer (meatballs), using up leftovers (tomato sauce, buttermilk, couscous, and green onion), and using what I had (basil for the garnish).

It’s a small step – I’m certainly a long ways off from being the self-sufficient domestic diva of modern homesteading that I am in my dreams, but I’m learning. In the  meantime, I’ll continue to cook. And as it relates to my self-sufficiency goals, I’ll write about it and pass it along to you. 

So am I just a country bumpkin? Has anyone else joined the new generation of do-it-yourself homesteaders? Have you made any lifestyle choices to help you save a little moolah? Do you find satisfaction in making something yourself? Or would you rather that someone did it for you? What role do you think food and eating play in creating community and self-reliance? We welcome your thoughts.

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3 thoughts on “Daydreaming

  1. pobept says:

    I was born at the end of Americas great depression and raised being taught that a garden will keep you from going to bed hungry. I have spent the last 65 years living this life style and have no regrets.

    Happy gardening

    • Jessalyn says:

      What an incredible story and testament to self-sufficiency! I am sure you have much knowledge to pass on to others. My mom’s friend taught 8th graders for one school year and then decided that she never wanted to have to work that hard to support herself to eat so she started growing all her food and has been doing so for upwards of 40 years. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  2. […] I have made a buttermilk tomato sauce before, and I’ve made Jamie Oliver’s tomato sauce before – the one that […]

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