Homesteading – Eat What is Set Before You

We haven’t left the homestead in two weeks. I’ve been outdoors, but we haven’t moved off the property. There was ill health, bad weather and high gasoline prices to blame, as well as the natural tendency of Northerners to stay put in the winter, where it is warm and snug. It’s been three weeks since we were in a grocery store.

The photo above is not what we have in the house now. We are subsisting on winter vegetables, a flat of clementines, beans, and a small amount of cheese and meat. We have run out of some staples. We may run out of more before we venture out to shop for food.

This goes against what we are taught by television and marketing. We expect to have a large variety of food at hand, and if we don’t, we must go shopping. Load that buggy, folks – no one should be trapped at home for three or four days with just one flavour of ice cream!

When Jesus sent out the disciples two by two, He told them to accept what hospitality was offered them, to stay in one house and not gad about, looking for a better meal. (See Luke 10.) And do we follow this simple instruction today? No, we are unappreciative of God’s hospitality. God provides us with apples, pumpkin and potatoes, all good food that will keep for months, and we yearn for strawberries and tomatoes – fragile food that doesn’t grow in the winter. We have the appetites of spoiled princes, rather than of ordinary workers. It takes vast amounts of fuel and effort to keep us supplied with the desires of our bellies.

Locally grown food, appropriate to our climate, is God’s hospitality in the house He has furnished us. It is tempting to make sarcastic fun of “foodies,” people who place great value in exotic and high quality products that cost far above what most of us would spend on meals, but it is equally demanding and unsustainable to insist that we have tomatoes and lettuce on our fast-food burgers every single day of the year. It is selfish, and short-sighted.

Eat what is set before you. It implies more than just food – it implies that we need to be satisfied with what we can produce, what we can sustain, and not spiral into debt and financial despair chasing desire. We have become a restless people, anxious for tomorrow, not trusting God. We require novelty and stimulation and fun. We don’t eat what is set before us – we reject it as bland and boring, too much like what we had yesterday and the day before. Games and gadgets keep us amused for a short while, only to be replaced shortly with the newest gadget or game.

Are we prepared to be bored from time to time? Are we prepared to slog through long winters of tossing hay to farm animals, day after day, and splitting wood, and shoveling snow, with no chance of a fun Florida vacation? Are we prepared to eat squash four times a week and beets the other three days, because God gave us lots of them? It’s one aspect of homestead life for which not many prepare themselves. Can we live without weekly trips to Walmart?

I’m not sure how I’ll be doing by the end of February; I wonder if God gave me a spell of poor health so that I would be grateful for the slow winter weeks. There is much to do yet, but I can’t do it now, anyway. It’s the time for browsing seed catalogs, and making budgets, of tracking down farmers expecting lambs and kids, of even planning for next winter’s wood supply. It is slow and tedious sometimes, but it is the quiet work God has given us to do.

Amd we still have lots of potatoes.


14 thoughts on “Homesteading – Eat What is Set Before You

  1. magdalena,

    Very timely post!! there is a growing push among the ‘slow food’ etc community to educate folk on eating locally and seasonally. This is the sustainable way to feed ourselves… I presented on this as a suitable subject for a theology unit dealing with Christian Ethics last year and touched upon this (remember the ‘slow food manifesto’ I sent you and other such?

    We are a priveleged people here in Aus; recent flooding has pushed up prices of a good deal of our fruit and veg; the govt. is imploring the two large supermarket chains here not to be tempted to import and kick Aus farmers in the guts during their time of flood recovery…please pray for them.

    Most of our produce is roaded; postwar development around our capital cities and larger regional centres crushed the local market gardening ethos that once fed our metropolices even in my own 1970’s and early 1980’s childhood. We grow what we can here… The Stephanie Alexander kitchen garden programme within schools, the explosion of community gardens and interest by householders who have a little gardening space in their homes to at least try growing something for themselves is growing and the best are in produce for much of the year; though if one is in a poor microclimate with even poorer soils, this can take years to master. Tennants have even less choice. Figs and apples will come in soon; we’re still enjoying stonefruit, good tropical fruit (though in Aus this is available all year round re pineapples and pawpaws ( still affordable in the Sydney area, though as one heads southwards to southern Victoria and Tasmania, this changes. I need to get to a decent grower’s market here in sydney… we have small amounts of berries, tomatos and mushrooms supplied locally… 20 years ago, you couldn’t get fruit from avocado, banana or papaya plants; that is changing.

    Timely questions to ponder.

    Sarah. the

  2. Great post. Bravo! Funny thing is that even though our son has special dietary needs that can end up running a person a lot of money at first, but we find it doesn’t have to cost that much IF we are willing to eat to live rather than live to eat. I know that is a cliche, but it is true!! I grew up in a family of professional cooks. My mom, aunt, cousins all had food businesses or restaurants. I spent 10 yrs catering with her. Food was her big interest and how to be creative on less was something she did at home, because she had to, but had her gourmet ideas and put those to use eventually. To be fair, cooking has been a thing women can earn money at in a lot of different ways and some ways allow her to still be home with the family. And cooking now and always was a huge part of a woman’s life. I grew up surrounded with stacks of cookbooks and menu idea papers lying around. Funny thing was, I had zero interest in cooking until I was in my 20’s. Then, I discovered I was good at it and I just thought it was my duty to keep on getting better. Then, came the allergies with kids and I had to work even harder to make new foods palatable and somehow, miraculously, make some dessert/goodies so our little ones didn’t miss out. Well, they wouldn’t have known if everyone else was not going so ridiculously overboard for every occasion they could think of to bring food and people together. We are hit with it everywhere and churches are REALLY bad. I have a hard time eating at these functions, as I prefer a quiet setting to eat where conversations are easier to have – I can’t eat and talk to a multitude of people buzzing around me very well. When I look up I see people kind of gorging and I think of the verse about riotous living and banqueting. I just want to see it’s importance of the food toned down. I tried to get our worship group to downsize the meal to snacks, chuck it altogether, or have it once a month due to the immense amount of work, mess, time it took away from our worship and other problems it created. You would have thought I suggested something pagan.

    We were talking tonight about how we have been trying to avoid making the big trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joes for specialty foods that make a strict diet easier. Like I would buy Applegate hot dogs ( 4 packs for a month) to help on days when I couldn’t cook quickly or had nothing made up. But I am resisiting it ( going to indianapolis tomorrow for Patrick’s neuro appt and therefore am tempted to go to these stores.). I also was looking for a butter substitute that has no soy and noone here carries the stuff. But, I can get buy by making ghee out of real butter and that gets most of the casein out of it. We don’t need hot dogs ( these don’t have nasties in them), because we are working on this plan where we have soups in the fridge that can travel in a thermos for travel. Here is what we are implenting. On Sundays we are roasting 2 free range chickens, 2 beef roasts, and some potatoes, carrots, celery ( we can cram it all in the oven). The first night we ate some chicken freshly roasted, took the meat off the bones and made stock with them. We made a big bowl of chicken salad the next day, a stirfry, and then with the little bits of chicken left we made soup with the stock and froze what stock we did not use in ice cube trays just for stock only and add them to the bag we keep in the freezer. The chicken salad fed husband and oldest working son lunches for 2 days, plus another 4 sandwiches they ate at other times. The soup had everything in the fridge we needed to use and we added some wild rice. That soup was a big part of 2 dinners, lunch for he and our son for 2 more days. We did make a meatloaf the second day and I do not use eggs, bread, crackers in mine. We blend up peppers, onions, spinach or kale and whatever needs used up in fridge along with a couple of spoons of tomato paste, herbs of choice, a dab of honey or stevia to counter the acid of the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and then knead it into the meat. No sausage, cuz I didn’t have it. But it made a great tasting loaf. I didn’t use a binder, not even oats, because we found out when Patrick could not have any carbs hardly at all, that it was good without it, so why bother? That meatloaf has made 2 dinners ( with the soup once), and 2 more lunches, and there is enough left for Patrick and I to eat for lunch. Now if we had done this with the beef this week, as we have done in the past, we would have made two big batches of soup at the same time and we would have had soup for 2 more days from our one day of work, plus sliced meat for sandwiches and meals to get us through the 5 day week easily. The meat costs under $30, but feeds a family of four, four the most part, for 5 days. We do have to eat other things, of course, but this gives us “convenience foods” when we need them that are healthy and cost effective. I am giving thought to sticking with less berries and stuff in the Winter and eating more of what is a local thing. I hope we can get a better stash of potatoes this year than last, and I still want Bruce to try the bury the potatoes, cabbages, and root things in the ground and cover them with straw. Our Ukranian friends had some box they kept in front of their apt. full of straw and they buried their veggies in it. I need to find out if they used more than that as insulation.


  3. Hi again,
    Boy do I make errors when I post. I should say I did not make the chicken on Sunday this week – I think it was Fri. But USUALLY it is Sunday when we are likely to do bulk cooking together, as Bruce has to work 6 days. And I am so blessed to have a husband who is happy to do this “kitchen ballet”, as we call it ( to symbolize the funny way we whiz around each other and not have major crashes), to help us succeed in what seems the right thing to do. Our son requires constant monitoring and often, help, and so I am so grateful to have a husband who does not resent all this at all. God is so good, isn’t He? We make it a family adventure, just doing the cooking and normal chores as we can together. I just didn’t want someone to notice I couldn’t have made soup on Sunday, as I noticed, and have had all those meals and it just being Monday. I got a bit mixed up because I am having a rough week emotionally, and am tired. Sorry!

    • No, you complained about too many servings of potatoes, but you didn’t say you were going to run out and buy corn chips instead. I grew up in a household where we ate potatoes three times a day – our neighbors grew them we picked them. Sometimes I could have murdered for a bowl of macaroni!

      • I find it hard to eat potatoes every, single day.Irish people think it’s ok to eat potatoes so often but they wouldn’t dream of eating any other kind of vegetable every, single day- just potatoes.We have a thing about potatoes.

  4. LUCY,
    I asked once before and got your name mixed up – I am crazy. I was wondering if I could be allowed to see your blog. If so, how is it done?

  5. I bet you’re gonna have wild strawberries next spring. I just thought of that—oh lucky lucky you. When I was little Daddy & I picked them on weekends & I et them on my cereal during the week. Deeeeeeeelicious! And blueberries…and wintergreen berries. And wintergreen leaves to chew. *sigh*

    • Strawberries are pretty good here. We have a highbank behind us, so I expect to find some. I may have to go up the mountain to get blueberries. I haven’t seen wintergreen in this area in many years, though. It is quite sensitive to logging.

  6. Plants have a kind of group sentience. They send out “messages” in various ways to say they are being attacked, for instance. Species of plants are codependent, as well, with symbiosis we are just beginning to note. For instance, disturb the root system of one kind of tree, some forest floor species will die; forest trees are codependent with fungal systems that live underground.

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