Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Working for our food

On Saturday, I spent most of the day either in the garden, catching up with the produce that ripened while we were away, or in the kitchen, turning the harvest into soup.

Root veggies and my over-abundant kale were the day's focus. I made about 14 liters of kale soup just from our onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, beets and kale. The only things that didn't come from our yard were the sausage, kidney beans, and chicken broth. Here's the recipe (which I multiplied by four) in case you'd like some of your own:

1 lb kale
1 lb potatoes
1 lb beets
1 lb sausage 
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
8 cups chicken broth or combination chicken and beef broth
3 lb peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (or a large can or two)
1 cup kidney beans
Salt and pepper

Strip the leaves from the washed kale and cut diagonally into wide slices. You should end of with 6 - 8 cups lightly packed kale. Wash, peel and chop potatoes and keep in cold water. Prick sausage; blanch in boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes to release fat. Drain; cut into 1/2 inch slices; set aside. In a large saucepan, saute onions, carrots and garlic in oil and butter, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, beets and broth, and simmer, partially covered, for 15 or 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Stir in tomatoes and kidney beans and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Add the kale and sausage, cook 5 - 10 minutes longer and season to taste. (Serves 6 - 8)

I love that our freezer is filling up with hearty and nutritious stuff from our garden. It hasn't travelled thousands of miles to come to us, and it's organic. All those frozen strawberries, raspberries, beans, zucchini and my sisters' cherries mean that we have some local food to carry us through the winter.

But what really blows my mind is that my grandma spent all spring, summer and fall every year to put away food to carry her family through the year -- in the early years of her family's life, she couldn't turn to a grocery store every time she ran out of something. Preserving food, butchering animals, baking and parenting (12 kids) were her full time job. Especially in August and September, I find myself thinking of her and all her hard work, realizing that I don't do half of what she did. The planning alone boggles my mind!

And I think about how far our society has come from knowing how to create our own food -- how my daughter's 12-year-old friend didn't know that salsa was made from tomatoes! So much of what we find in our grocery stores comes in manufactured packages of "food-like substances" from Ontario or the US because we just don't have the time to do much from scratch any more. But I know that I'll never appreciate any of that packaged stuff as much as I will enjoy the soup made from scratch on August 22, pulled from my freezer in the middle of January, warmed and served with some homemade bread or biscuits.

Somehow, there's something satisfying about working for our food instead of taking the store-bought, easy way out...

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