(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Organic Diet on a Less Than Whole Foods Budget
I know, I know. There’s Town Hall Madness, high dudgeon political theater, a boycott of Whole Foods, and it’s hot in August. But there aren’t any Town Halls by my rep this year. He’s a blue dog who will vote however the caucus tells him to vote. They never intended to give us shit, the insurance companies just need a bailout and Obama can’t just run that by anybody like he did for Wall Street’s wealthiest and crookedest players. Just another tax hike around here when forced to buy junk insurance, less money we’ll have for actually going to a doctor if we need to. Oh, well.
And there’s no Whole Foods anywhere near me that I know of, so who cares how much of a jerk the CEO may be? Are his employees happy with their health care? Then let ’em keep it. From what I hear it’s purely a Yuppie-Haven, nicknamed “Whole Paycheck.” Out here where organics are a regular way of life, I can say again, who cares? We’ve great farmer’s markets, tailgates, and plenty of small farms everywhere you look where you can pick your own, buy at a stand near the driveway, or off a pickup on the side of the road. Most garden/farm “naturally” even without organic certification. Apples are ripening fast, who the hell would grow a GMO apple anyway, for goodness’ sake!?
We’ve had a cool year. Sure, we get a few hot days, but usually not without a nice rain (we’re averaging an inch a week or more) and it’s never hot at night in these mountains. So the tomatoes have been pretty much a bust all around, only started getting ripe after they’d developed blight. Pumpkins are ripening early, but I think that’s because I planted them early. They’re quite tasty, can keep a long time in the field even after the greenery’s gone. My eggplant experiment doesn’t look promising but the potatoes are going great guns, the peppers are fruiting fine, and the herbs are thick this year.
My apples have been ripening for a couple of weeks. They either have to fall, or I get somebody to shake the tree and I play catch. Granny Smiths and Macintosh, I have used my self-constructed solar dryer – for which I sacrificed no digits to power tools – to dry as fast as they come in. Have jars and jars and several old coffee tins full, I figure a pie apiece if I can keep the boys out of ’em. They consume vast quantities right out of the jar for snacks.
Also ripe are the cinnamon pears. Small and hard, but seriously sweet and rich-tasting. They were here when we moved here, three trees. Two young-ish ones about 6 inches in diameter, one great-granny tree that is the biggest pear tree anybody’s ever seen. It’s 3 feet in diameter, about 70 feet tall, and the pears are hard as baseballs when they fall. There are thousands of ’em, and will definitely dent your car hood or head if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. The bears, deer and turkeys love them, keep them fairly cleaned up, though our driveway does smell a lot like overripe applesauce right now. I think they were used at one time to sweeten the corn mash for some high-dollar moonshine. I’d try my hand at that, but corn doesn’t do well here at all, and every time I’ve tried wine it’s turned to vinegar (but really good vinegar!). So I’ll forego the still.
What I’ve been doing is strolling out to gather a colander full of ripe and fairly unbruised ones (pears don’t really ripen until they’re a day or two off the tree). Wash them off, peel them with a potato peeler, quarter, clean and core. I’ve dried some, but they turn very dark and get sugar crystals all through them and on them. So now I’m making puree in the blender with a splash of cranberry grape juice, and drying leather. When the persimmons ripen I’ll dry them too. I hear they’re great that way, too mushy of a consistency for me to eat them fresh.
Oh, yeah. I’m making veggie chips out of the yellow squash and some of the pumpkin. Half dry them, then rehydrate in spices, then dry all the way. I’m storing in zip-locks, if they get a little limp I’ll just pop them into the oven on a cookie sheet when it comes time to eat some. They’ll crisp up just fine. Also drying the cutest little tomato-raisins you ever saw. The volunteer grape tomatoes that took over where the onions were are producing lots. I didn’t stake them, they’re fine on the ground, prolific and sweet. Cut ’em in half and dry until hard, you can’t peel or seed these puppies so I just dry as is. They’re quite tasty as a dried snack too, though I’m hoping since the big tomatoes died that I’ll get enough to powder. From that I can make tomato sauce at will, or add to soups and stews all winter. Mixed with my dried onions, bell peppers, celery and carrots. Have been drying kale and collard greens as well, they crumble into flakes and you can sprinkle them on anything or toss a handful into soups and beans. I’ll make some pumpkin/squash powder too, to use in an acorn/oatmeal gruel for hot breakfast with real maple syrup or honey. Have a neighbor who has bees and makes both maple and sorgum syrup, I buy however much I can when it’s fresh.
My mission with the dryer was to find a way NOT to have to can this year. Yes, I will have to can grapes (juice and jam), but that’s September/October, not August! So far so good, though now that things are coming in fast, I have put the oven to work on its lowest setting, with three racks full (two in the solar dryer). Looks like I’ll be salvaging much more of the crops than usual this year, since so much goes to waste when it’s just me doing the work.
I’m drinking a smoothie now of pear sauce, banana, cran-grape juice and citrus sherbet. I pronounce it Yummy! Sort of ‘Home Health Maintenance’ on an income that wouldn’t allow us to shop at Whole Foods even if there were one somewhere nearby. Best thing we can do right now is stay healthy. Already gathered and dried all the ingredients for anti-viral tea (peppermint, lemon balm, raspberry, Japanese honeysuckle, new grape leaves, mountain mint), just need goldenrod – which will flower any day – and rose hips, which must wait until after the first freeze. And a dash of sassafras root bark, for flavor. Figure we’ll take cheap vitamin D supplements too and hope for the best.
So screw Whole Foods! Who needs ’em? What we need is health care when we need it that doesn’t kill us or make us bankrupt. Is that so much to ask? Pitcher’s full. Pour yourself a smoothie and pass it on…