For the last few years Ed and I have celebrated New Years* by taking stock of the things we won’t have to buy anymore. They disappear from the shopping list because we either don’t feel like we need them anymore or because we have found a better substitute or because we make or grow it ourselves. Our list didn’t shrink considerably since last year but I would say we have more confidence in our ability to grow, process and store more foods. Next year we hope to up the ante with a real root cellar (or at least a better storage option than our front hall). We are able to grow and store enough squash, potatoes, onions and garlic to keep us happy for a year. The herbs are available in pots or dried even in winter months. We freeze tomatoes and corn and green beans and have fresh salad greens all year. We enjoy sorrel and other greens in warmer months but kept a few pots of sorrel and parsley inside for pick-me-ups during winter. Lots of sorrel pesto is in the freezer too. We tap our maple trees and still have some from last year to satisfy our sweet tooth until this March.
A couple of delights on the list this year…
Our own lemons! Not enough to give us as many lemons as we typically use in a year, but enough to know we would have some if we chose to not buy them at all.
Sun dried tomatoes. We stopped buying fresh tomatoes in the winter a long while ago, just because they are so disappointing. We grow a delicious Roma that tastes almost like a cherry on salads and it freezes well (whole, in baggies), so we have sauce tomatoes all year. But the sun-dried tomatoes really brighten salads and other dishes in a way that sauce can’t do.
Dried apples. We have a source of delicious free apples from the old (never sprayed) trees across the street. Drying them extends their usability to all year. They don’t store well because they are an un-tampered-with variety. We have dried them in the sun before but we invested in a dehydrator which we are looking forward to using with berries and currants next year. We freeze a small amount of fruit, but this will make it easier. There’s only so much freezer space and ultimately we would like to use less of that. Plus, we have a couple dozen currant bushes that will bear fruit this summer and almost fifty cranberry bushes that might bear fruit, so we are ready!
Tea. I can almost do a complete chai recipe but I haven’t found a good substitute for cinnamon. I can make it without a green tea or black tea base now, but tea and New Jersey tea are on the growing list for next year.
Trees and bushes and more. Last year we bought and planted hundreds of bushes and trees. This winter Ed spent time studying how to propagate various plants and he has been busy with his new growing mat helping baby plants grow. We still have a long list of new varieties to try but many favorites are off the buying list because we can make our own!
Wrapping paper. This has been off the “buy” list for more than a decade but bears repeating. Do you know how much fun it is to challenge yourself to wrap something beautifully with whatever you have in the house right now? You’d be surprised what you can come up with!
My favorite, perhaps! I have found I can do without a full time (off-farm) job! My desk job is now part-time which allows for much more time spent on what I call “direct” production. Instead of going to work for someone so that they can give me a paycheck which I can cash at a bank so that I can buy an onion, I simply go grow one! I now have enough security with making less because I need to spend so little and I have enough confidence in our ability to provide much of what we need so that I can comfortably “work” less.
*OK, we’re not that lame … celebration includes music and good food too, but it seemed more dramatic to put it that way 🙂