Last year both our garden and home-grown meat endeavors were far from what anyone would call successful. Between the late blight, the wonky weather, and a four-day trip to a blogging conference during which the very loose grip I had on weeding was lost entirely, spinach and peppers were the only produce we managed to harvest in any significant quantities. Add that to a late spring flood and the incredibly persistent raccoon predation that all but wiped out our poultry flock and suffice it to say 2009 was a giant failure here. We have been, I am more than a little embarrassed to admit, depending quite heavily on supermarket fare to fill-in the gaps that we were unsuccessful in filling during the growing months ourselves.
It has been a humbling experience; having to very reluctantly fill a shopping cart with goods I know will never really satisfy the cravings for the hearty homemade meals I need this time of year; having to stare our own failure in the face week after week, month after month. It has been more frustrating than words can express; having to hand over much of our hard earned money for products I consider, in many cases, to be incredibly inferior to those I tried and failed at stocking away myself — for much more labor, but much less money I might add.
And yet, it has also been an invaluable exercise in extending our food comfort zones and, of course, a crash course in being more creative. Did you know, for instance, there are approximately eleven hundred and seventy three meals based entirely on the green beans you managed to procure and freeze in copious amounts from a fellow gardener more successful than yourself? Me either. Or that spinach can be added to almost any recipe to extend the store bought ingredients and that, perhaps more importantly, you can feed your children said spinach three times per day, every single day, for weeks and so long as you don’t point it out they won’t complain — or turn green? I know, I too was shocked.
Tell me, in lean years how have you become more creative? How did it change your buying and growing habits for the following year? Already we’ve invested in raised garden beds, heavily composted and have decided not to accept pre-orders from our clients for poultry; not to sell the eggs before they’re in the basket, so to speak, in order to ensure we can provide for ourselves first.
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Of course the Pop’s Grass Fed Ground Beef (top), small-farm grown Gourmet Dried Mushrooms (middle), and Rick’s Picks Mean Beans — and other spicy pickled produce — (bottom) all of which I’ve been coveting certainly wouldn’t hurt the mealtime variety. Of that I’m sure.