The Homestead Cookbook

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"Progress was all right.  Only it went on too long." - James Thurber

Photo courtesy Chris Paul


What Not to Do

Top Ten Homesteading Don'ts

By Laura Negrón-Valentín


     "I took the time to learn and practice as much as I could.  It was not until I felt prepared that I began adding activities and tasks to our homestead.  I started little, but soon realized farming is (like any activity that depends on nature) a constant occurrence of a diversity of situations.  As a result, countless lessons have come from unwanted events and experiences.  It is curious to see that the sadder and harder the experiences, the bigger and stronger the lessons learned.

     Don’ts are hard to share.  In addition to bringing back memories I’d rather forget, they present, in a shockingly clear way how, accountable we are for what goes on around the farm and how potentially dangerous our actions can be.  When sharing our successes we end up with superhero-like feeling.  On the other hand, when the opposite happens, you end up with a feeling of inadequacy...and who likes that, right?  Yet, I am sharing them, because it is worth it.

     If any of my mistakes, ordeals, or mishaps can help fellow homesteaders be better, then dealing with them may have been, in some way, worthwhile."


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Spring Vegetable Quinoa

By Jessica Shelton


     "Nothing says 'Spring!' quite like fresh asparagus, tender peas, and fragrant mint.  This healthy dish features them all, along with nutty, satisfying quinoa and 'meaty' shiitakes.  Served as a side-dish or a hearty vegetarian/vegan entree, I think you'll agree, this recipe has the best flavors of the season.  As a side, you'll get approximately eight 1-cup servings bearing only about 220 calories each."



Mystical Morels

By Doug Smith



     "Different portions of society consider differing seasons as the 'busy time'.  For retailers it might be the Christmas season.  For farmers it’s spring planting and fall harvesting.  The canoe jobbers and travel agents stay busy during the heat of summer.  For folks who enjoy living off the land, spring means much more than garden planting or turkey hunting… it means searching for, cooking, and eating morel mushrooms.

     Like most things, the ideal time can fluctuate depending on location, but in most places in the northern hemisphere morel mushrooms are considered a late-April or early-May delicacy.  It takes only a good rain followed by a warm snap to jumpstart morels in their annual ritual of popping up out of the ground prime for the picking.

     What?  You’ve never experienced the spring euphoria that is a good mess of morel mushrooms cleaned, sliced, and sautéed in butter?  Add some fresh fried fish, pan-fried wild-turkey breast, or pretty much anything cooked on the barbecue grill and you have a meal fit for a king."




Hooked on Sugar

Kicking the Habit

By Megan Kutchman


     "A sugar addiction is every bit as real as an addiction to nicotine, caffeine and—according to recent studies—even cocaine.  While you probably know that sugar is linked to obesity, and you have probably noticed how kids react when they have some, what you may not know is that, at our current rate of consumption, sugar is actually killing us. 

     Research is now linking our high consumption—an estimated 16 percent of our daily caloric intake—with heart disease, type 2 diabetes (by way of obesity), high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer.  Kind of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? 

     Due to issues with gestational diabetes and concern for our children’s future health, our family decided to experiment with completely eliminating cane and corn sugar, in all their forms, from our diet.  What started as a spontaneous decision has become a lifestyle choice, and it has further opened our eyes to the very real danger our food system presents."



Black Thumb!

Helpful Hints for the Cultivationally Challenged

By Sheri Dixon


     "Over the course of the last 25 years, I have gardened both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, and  I have compiled a Gardener's List of Untruths, for those of us who have followed, to the letter, the advice of the 'Master Gardeners', come up with nothing to serve our families but dust and weevils, and had our neighbors turn us in for suspected toxic waste storage (HEY, that's my garden!).  Keep in mind that I have personally tested every Untruth, and while I will never claim to be a Good Gardener, I am comfortable in my role as Blackthumb, Defender of Inept Gardeners, Protector of Those Who Keep Trying.


     This year we will again plant a garden, for Hope springs eternal; there is no finer workout than an hour or two in the garden.  Country life just doesn't seem complete without those precious gems from your own garden: the one tomato that doesn't have rust, the one strawberry  that doesn't have a resident slug, squash yellow as sunshine, corn sweet as candy.

     Hand me that seed catalog, would you?  I hear the call of the land.  (Sounds suspiciously like giggling raccoons...)" 



Eco-Friendly Tips for a More Sustainable Home

By Andrew Brusnahan



     "Most people find that making small green changes around the home is fairly easy, and definitely more forgiving towards your wallet than, for example, a fleet of expensive solar panels.  From the kitchen, to the bathroom, and everywhere else in between, the green possibilities vary by the room.  Sometimes though, this can prove to be overwhelming, conjuring up concerns of where to start (especially if you have a larger-size home).  Not to worry though, just break your house down room-by-room, tackling each room from start to completion, making sure you accomplish all the changes you set out to accomplish to begin with.


     As you should easily be able to tell by now, if you got the itch to go green, it certainly does not have to be expensive.  This article was actually meant to show you ways to adopt more sustainable habits in the home for little or no cost.  At first glance, some of these practices may not seem like they will amount to anything substantial, but sometimes it’s the little things that matter, that add up, that create that warm 'feel-good' sensation in knowing that we are part of the solution."



Waste Not, Want Not

By Adrianne Masters


     "Growing up in the rural Midwest, and being a child not unlike millions of others with a more selective than exploratory palette, I was reminded most evenings while trying to escape the dinner table of the countless less fortunate, starving children who wished daily and in earnest for a meal like the one I had just been served.  Gratitude was an important virtue to my mother and she had no qualms about using guilt to cultivate a thankful attitude in her children.  My mother is a remarkable woman. 

     Her socially conscious reminder fell on sensitive ears and the result is a waste-sensitive country girl who will find a fix or a new purpose for just about anything before it gets hauled away in the trash.  Especially non-meat food scraps, which are repurposed into compost and are integral in my efforts to restore nutrients to the soil in my garden.  What food scraps we have, that is.  Clean plates are encouraged, of course.  Finding use for potato peels and carrot tops is a good place to start in an effort to reduce waste, but it is only the beginning of the creative process of turning trash into treasure."



The Collie Who Tried to End It All

By Neil Shelton


    "Well, I drove her all over creation, or at least the Ozark version of creation, for two or three days. During the middle of one afternoon, we were passing down one of the zillion or so back-county gravel roads hereabouts, past a small farmhouse, when a large collie came running out of the yard barking at us.

     I was just about to deliver the punch line of one of my remarkably humorous stories, when I turned to my passenger, not wishing to miss her appreciation of my profound wit.

     Her face was frozen in terror. Her eyes were as big as saucers and she was making a strange 'ACK-ACK-ACK!!' noise deep in her throat.

     This was not the sort of reaction I’d hoped for."



Delightful Scents

Using Essential Oils for Health and Home

By Karyn Sweet


     "It seems that the day has arrived, judging by the increasing popularity of essential oils.  The name stands for quintessential oils and they are composed of the natural aromatic compounds found in a plant—when you crush a mint leaf, you have essential oils on your hands.  Bottled essential oils are extremely concentrated versions.  For instance, it takes 150 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender essential oil.  One drop of peppermint essential oil is comparable to 27 cups of peppermint tea and 60 roses are needed to make one drop of oil.


     Essential oils are an easy way to gain the many benefits of plants.  And with their beautiful scents, experimenting has never been so enjoyable!"



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