The Homestead Cookbook

Homesteaders You Should Know

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"Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Photo by Karen Roe


Garden Therapy

Getting in Touch with Your Roots

By Laurie Charpentier


     "The ancients knew this secret.  They knew about the everyday benefits of using herbs in cooking and healing.  They knew just being in and around gardens can literally lower blood pressure, alleviate depression, and decrease physical pain.  They knew it was the perfect place to connect with spirit.  If you’ve ever plucked basil from its stem and held it to your nose or rubbed a tomato vine and then inhaled its earthy aroma on your hands, you know the secret I’m referring to.  It’s the secret of enjoying Heaven on Earth.  It means celebrating the miracles of everyday life and of finding the Divine in the smallest seed or grain of sand.  More importantly, it is the act of recognizing your Self in that aspect of the Divine—in that smallest seed and in that grain of sand.  It is the ability to see the tree inside the acorn—the potential held inside of you. 

     The cornerstone of Garden Therapy is intention.  Anyone who has ever taken one of my classes knows this by heart because I drill it into them.  Intention, intention, intention!  What do you hope to get out of your garden space?  Do you want to make it a Sacred Garden?  A Healing Garden?  A Memorial Garden?  What sets those different types of gardens apart?  Sure, you may choose specific plants because you’re interested in traditional plant meanings and their symbolism, et cetera, but mostly it will be the intention you bring to your garden, and thus, the intention you bring to your own journey."



Edible Flowers

A Rose by Any Other Name Just Might be Lunch

By Adrianne Masters


     "I’m confronted by a small lake and national forest outside the window behind my laptop as I write this now.  There’s an orchid on my desk.  And a stained glass lamp.  I design my garden with aesthetics in mind as much as efficiency.  It helps that vegetables grow in such beautiful colors and interesting shapes, of course.  What beauty really inspires me though is the illuminating brilliance of flowering blossoms.  And in order to spend my valuable, limited time cultivating these stimulating blooms, I had to find a use for them other than just 'pretty' and 'good for pollination.' 

     How about, 'edible?'  That quality is pretty tough to argue with, even for a rough-around-the-edges country man who doesn’t find beauty compelling and prefers function above all.  My country man in particular is a big fan of foraging.  He likes mushroom hunting; I can’t help myself from picking flowers when we go.  I love finding mushrooms, too, but morels aren’t really as pretty as they are tasty."



Weston A. Price

Introducing the "Real" Way of Eating

By Karyn Sweet


     "Weston A. Price was a well-known dentist and researcher who worked during the 1930s and 40s.  Many diet theories are developed and then foisted upon the people with the hope that the results will match the expectations of the nutritionist (and sometimes the hopes of the agribusiness that has endorsed the theory).  On the other hand, Price started by finding healthy populations of people and asking if their diets shared any common characteristics. 

     In his research, he traveled to isolated populations as diverse as alpine villagers in Switzerland, the Maori of New Zealand, Inuit tribes, and Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides.  He started by looking for people who were free of cavities, gum disease, and orthodontic issues such as crowded teeth.  He found that groups who were free from these dental troubles usually also enjoyed general good health, were free of mental illness, and had easy childbirths. 

     Clearly, the quality of food, from its production to its processing, was a strong factor in the quality of life.  This message was made even more clear when he viewed the children of parents who had abandoned their group's traditional foods for modern, processed food.  Within one or two generations, health had deteriorated."



Hooked on Sugar

The New Toxin

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."



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 experience 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.

     By the time you finish reading this you’ll know what to look for, where to find them, how to collect and clean them, and the best ideas for preparation."



Selling What You Make, Online

By Jeremy Pellani


     "What follows is the general process we go through when starting and promoting an online business.  Because all of our businesses have been selling what we’ve made, that is what I’ll speak to.  In the past we’ve spun yarn, made knitting needles, knitted hats and dipped beeswax candles.  We’ve now found our best success with pet memorial stones.  We have not become wealthy by doing this, in fact we likely live below the poverty line.  The truth is we need less money  because we don’t have to drive every day to go to work anymore.  We have plenty of time to grow some of our own food and prepare meals from scratch.  After all, that is why we moved to the country in the first place.         

     One of the secrets of our success has been to take small manageable steps.  Before we made any sales, it seemed impossible.  I got discouraged a lot and had my share of self doubt; but, because we persisted and repeatedly took small steps forward, we did succeed.  Not every enterprise we’ve embarked upon has made money (some have lost us some).  Through trying at it, we learned what we were doing.  In that sense success can be somewhat inevitable for those who are persistent, adaptable and are willing to see it through."



Pit Vipers Need Love, Too

By Neil Shelton


     "I once knew a woman who took in stray animals.  Her house looked (and smelled) like a veterinary clinic because of all the wounded creatures she was nursing back to health.  This same gentle soul, however, would risk life and limb swerving across the highway to wipe out a snapping turtle if she saw one in the road.

     She said she couldn’t think of any useful purpose that the alligator snapper serves on this earth, but frankly I think that if snapping turtles were cute and furry instead of hideous and slimy, she’d have felt differently.  I’ll bet there are all sorts of useful and important contributions that snapping turtles make BESIDES swallowing up yellow, fuzzy, baby duckies, but who cares when they look so monstrous?

     Well, the truth is, that our cold-blooded friends just don’t get no respect.  Just because you’ve got jaws like a steel bear trap, or long fangs that inject deadly venom, no body wants to cuddle with you."



Raising Backyard Chickens

The Basics

By Michael Schneider


     "Chickens are one of the easiest forms of livestock to raise and can be raised in many areas, including dense suburbs.  Chickens can be very productive too: they give you eggs for breakfast, they can give you meat to eat, you can breed them to make more profit (or just have more chickens).  Not to mention they also make great pets.  

     You may ask, 'Why would I raise my own chickens when I can buy eggs for $1.72 a dozen, or just get a roasted chicken at the store?'  I won’t get into too much, but the main reason to raise your own chickens would be life on 'factory' farms.  You can just do some quick research online about commercial chicken farms, and learn all about the bad conditions on these farms, and the negative effects they have on the chickens’ health.  It is a fact that free-range eggs are more nutritious for people, and a lot more humane for chickens.  If you buy 'free-range' eggs at the store, you’ve still got to watch out because 'free-range' doesn’t necessarily mean that the chickens are running free through green fields.  Research that, too.  The other overall benefits are that you know what you’re eating and the joy you get from raising your own chickens."


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