Sarah Stutzman and her husband, Brook, homestead with their three daughters on a 3.5 acre farm in Pennsylvania. They raise much of their own food and teach their community to live close to the land, food supply, family, and local economy.
There is an unspoken truth about homesteaders. We are foodies. The culinary aspect of homesteading drives many of us to grow artichokes or can a pear chutney that will pair well with the freshly processed pork in late fall.
Why in the world would you raise your own food if you didn’t love good food?
I don’t follow recipes. I follow intuition. I use the ingredients I have on hand. There is never one meal that is the same and this drives my husband crazy. Folks ask me for a recipe and I can never offer them exact measurements. In fact my first recipe book gifted to me by my mom was titled A Pinch of This and A Dash of That. She understood the way I created it in the kitchen. It’s more about what you have on hand, the flavors that mend well together, and the love that goes into the meal. It can’t be written down in exact measurements.
Everyone wants a recipe. How about we start with the foundational principles of cooking. It starts with the freshest ingredients. As homesteaders we understand that principle. Most of us homestead to live close to our food chain and maybe even for the culinary experience. If we are craving feta cheese for a meal, our mind instantly goes to, “how can I make my own?” Am I right?
I recently started reading Tamar Adler’s book The Everlasting Meal.
She brought up a good point about recipes. Most recipes we follow are ingredients from another person’s kitchen. We may not have those items in our pantry or even easily accessible in our grocery store. Some of us live in rural towns with very small grocery stores. That’s why it’s more about the principles of scratch cooking, rather than following a recipe when cooking from scratch.
Learning to cook requires principles.These are just a few.
Know how to make a good broth and have it available at all times.
Know how to roast a chicken
More onion and garlic is always better
Never waste anything- the ends of the bread can be used for homemade bread crumbs or croutons for soup or salad.
Learn what flavors and textures blend well together
Learn to make a basic rue
Good fats are key- butter, tallow, lard, olive oil
Most importantly, the best food is slow food with dashes of love.
With all that I will leave you with the basics for a family favorite. If you have these ingredients, great. If you don’t, then make it your own.
Curry Chicken Salad
The meat from one whole roasted chicken
2 stalks of celery, leaves included
½ an onion
Squirt of dijon mustard
Dash of curry powder to your liking
Salt and pepper
Add all food ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined. Add enough mayo to make it moist.
Fold in halved grapes.
May it bless you and nourish you