Saturday, July 5, 2008


I'm enamoured with pantries and root cellars. I would love to be able to put up enough food to last us through winter or, at least, to make up a big portion of our winter fare. Things feel very fragile in the world now and since I have had children I feel such a strong need to be able to provide for them and protect them in the most basic of ways - making sure that (whatever happens) we have a home and food to eat. We envision someday having a smallholding like Rebecca and Dan from Sallygardens, get the mortgage paid off and be as sustainable as possible. I don't need to live off the grid, but I would like plans in place in case of calamity - a stocked pantry and a wood stove with a supply of wood included.

Because we aren't quite there yet I am using this time to practice and learn new skills. My friend Laura came out from Boston this past week so we could do some "putting up". I have canned before (apple sauce and tomatoes) but both of those only need a big pot of boiling water. We had planned on caning peas and that required a pressure canner. For some reason that seemed intimidating (and possibly dangerous?) but it was no trouble at all once we deciphered the instructions written in teeny tiny type.

We both have CSA shares at different farms out here. Laura's also has a delivery out in Summerville where she lives but she comes back west where her family lives to do some pick-your-own throughout the season. Both farms had peas in season so we went to her farm with the little ones and picked several quarts of shelling peas. √Čamonn slept in the Mei tai on my chest and Miryam, who was not in a picking mood, mostly fed pea pods to the goats and their two new kids.

The next morning we rode over to my farm to pick my share of shelling peas and then home again to shell and can. Boy do I wish we had some goats to feed the pods too - I'm sure they'll make nice compost but it seemed such a shame to through them all in the bin - so beautifully green and crunchy. We shelled and shelled and shelled and were able to put up 8 pints of peas which felt good for our first go at it. Laura's farm allows you to pick more then your share if you pay extra by the quart, so I think next year we'll go out a bit earlier in the pea season and pick more. When were were there the peas were almost done. This year we'll get a better idea of how quickly we go through thinks like jam and peas so next year we make a more educated guess of how much we need.

To be honest, I don't really like canned peas, though Miryam and Andy love them. We did the raw pack method which hopefully will keep them from that over-cooked-mooshy-awfulness that I associate with canned peas.

√Čamonn, Miryam and a Big Bowl of Peas

Also, on the "putting up" front, we are purchasing a chest freezer to share with our friends who live a short walk from us. It will live in their basement and we'll each have an inventory of what belongs to us. I had great visions of freezing a bunch of berries for the winter but didn't even think about how teeny my freezer is. At this point we had to sacrifice ice cubes for the third gallon of strawberries - a worthwhile trade but I could really use and ice tea if you know what I mean...


Commonplace iris said...

It's probably a bit late in the day now, but for next time there is something you can do with the peapods. I was wondering the same thing as I shelled (not nearly as many) peas a week or so back and luckily happened to see this blogpost about making chilled peapod soup. Did a bit of searching and also found a recipe for a warm peapod soup.

I ended up making a warm soup (but not with milk) which I may or may not get around to blogging about or posting on flickr at some point when I'm back on track with all that! Suffice to say it was tasty (my almost 2 year old also liked it) and I shall do it again so hold that thought for next year.

Gillian said...

what a clever idea! Too late for this season unfortunately but now I know better for next year.
I get a big kick out of learning how to use every little bit of something. I just learned from our cheese monger that if you save the rinds from parmigiana cheese you can simmer it in soups or sauces to add yummy flavors.