Friday, January 4, 2013

Seasonal Eating: Homestead Menus Throughout the Year

At any particular time of year you'll have a different set of fresh foods coming out of the garden and root cellar to complement what you have frozen and canned. Winter, cloche, cold frame, and greenhouse gardening enable you to have at least a few varieties of garden-fresh vegetables year-round. Even in chilly November, in a basic temperate-zone garden and with some attention to protection, you might be able to harvest broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, escarole, kale, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, salsify, spinach, rutabagas, turnips, and winter radishes.

Homestead Menus Throughout the Year: Here are some menus from back in '72 and '73. Those were my banner years for home growing and good cooking. It wasn't "gourmet" or "health food" cooking. But we raised it ourselves without poisons and had plenty of food and plenty of variety. We dried fruit in our front yard. Mayonnaise was homemade. Butter was from our own churn and bread from our oven. Bacon or ham was home-cured, and sauerkraut was out of our crock, as were pickles. The root beer and ginger ale were homemade, too. We always had milk and usually an herb tea on the table.

Breakfasts. (If your chickens aren't laying, leave out the eggs.)

  1. Cornmeal mush; bread, butter, honey; soft-boiled eggs
  2. Toasted sourdough bread; pork chops; applesauce; scrambled eggs
  3. Homemade grape nuts with cream; sliced fresh peaches; poached eggs
  4. Cornmeal mush; home-canned fruit; elk sausage (1/3 pork meat); fried eggs
  5. Leftover boiled potatoes (sliced and fried); elk sausage; home-canned tomato juice; fried eggs
  6. French toast (bread sliced and dipped in an egg-milk mixture and fried); honey and butter to go on the toast; fried pork side meat; wild plums
  7. For a summer breakfast cooked outdoors: pancakes; goat's butter, honey; stewed wild apples; fried pork side meat.
  1. May lunch: scrambled eggs; leftover boiled potatoes fried with chopped green top-set onions; cooked, buttered asparagus spears
  2. Fried leftover cornmeal mush with butter, molasses, or honey; blackberries, fried meat; bread and butter
  3. Hamburger, sliced fried leftover boiled potatoes; tomato ketchup; bread, butter, jelly
  4. Leftover stew, extended with some fresh vegetables; bread, butter, wild plum sauce; mint tea with honey
  5. Ground leftover ham and pickle sandwiches; cottage cheese (we eat it with milk and honey--except Mike, who prefers it with salt and pepper)
  6. Sandwiches of herb bread and sliced cold venison roast; canned juice; pickles
  7. A special lunch: cold leftover steak in strips; fried potatoes and onions; hard-boiled eggs; canned applesauce; bread and butter; iced wild strawberry leaf tea
Spring and Summer Suppers
  1. Potatoes; bread; creamed onions; stewed dandelion greens; fresh raw asparagus
  2. Dandelion greens and (real) bacon bits; roast ham and gravy; potatoes; stewed rhubarb; radishes
  3. Leaf lettuce salad; radish roses; potatoes; fried meat and milk gravy; strawberries on leftover bread with cream
  4. Leftover sliced cold roast; bread and apple pudding (crumbled bread crust baked with milk, sliced cored apples, beaten egg, honey, cinnamon); warmed-up leftover gravy extended with milk (to go on the meat); boiled Swiss chard
  5. Chicken stew (made from an old layer, with carrots, potatoes, onions, turnips) and dumplings; blackberry apple bread pudding (berries, apples, milk, bread crust, and honey, baked and served with cream); iced herb tea
  6. Corn on the cob; sliced fresh fruit; roast; mustard greens; potatoes; half-cured crock pickles
  7. Carrot sticks; boiled peas; boiled new potatoes; fried chicken and gravy
  8. When you're hot and tired: potato salad (made ahead and chilled); barbecued meat (cooked by husband); tossed green salad (made by children); raspberry ice (made ahead); bread and butter
  9. Picnic: Fried chicken; potato salad; leaf lettuce salad; raspberries in whipped cream; ginger ale
Winter Suppers.
  1. Boiled sliced turnips; roast and gravy; baked potatoes; pickles; bread and butter; junket pudding
  2. Elk roast and gravy; sage dressing; baked squash; spinach; mashed potatoes; mincemeat cookies
  3. Pork chops; gravy, boiled peas; yeast biscuits; boiled potatoes
  4. Steak and gravy; mashed potatoes; cole slaw with homemade dressing; cream-style corn; crumb bread and cherry jelly; canned apricots
  5. Stew made with meat, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage; raw turnip slices dipped in herbed sour cream
  6. Leftover sliced cold roast; bread and apple pudding; mashed boiled turnips
Snacks. Snacks are for company, for husband or children famished between meals, for an afternoon tea break or a bedtime family treat. Lots of old-time farm families have a regular midmorning and midafternoon mini-meal for the working men in summer, when they are putting in long days. Maybe we take sandwiches and a gallon of cold tea out to the field and the work stops for a few minutes. 

I blacklisted store-bought cookies, potato chips, pop, and candy. But I don't fight snacks that are home-grown and home-prepared: fresh, canned, or frozen fruit; dried fruit, pickles, popcorn; homemade popsicles; homemade crackers; jerky; bread with homemade jam or honey. 

Leftovers like cold sliced roast or cold boiled potatoes are good with some salt or butter. My husband Mike doesn't like to eat leftovers, except potatoes and meat, so if somebody doesn't snack them up, the chickens or pigs get them--except for bread, which metamorphoses into bread pudding or lunch dishes that I serve when it's just me and the children.

[Adapted from the "Menu Making: 365 Independence Days" section of Chapter 7: Food Preservation. Other topics include: Seasonal Eating; Use What You Have; and A System for Menu Planning. Illustration copyright 1994 by Cindy Davis.]

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