Monday, May 18, 2009

First the non-food, then the food...

Our main purchase this past week in terms of storage was laundry soap to put away. Yes, we will be using it just like normal, but it's a larger quantity that will hopefully last a really long time. We use a type that has little/no additives because we worry about skin sensitivities for our children. If used correctly, it will do like 224 loads (too lazy to go check the box, but I'm reasonably certain that I have that number right... :) and it's a brand that you can't just pick up in the store, so a last-minute rush to the store in an emergency--which I am trying to avoid at all costs anyway--wouldn't do any good. So, set on that for awhile, but have to save up for other stuff now....always more to do!

Visited my parents this weekend, and came back with various plants, but for the intents and purposes of this post, let's talk-- wait for it.....drumroll.....strawberries!! We actually have some strawberry plants already in our front yard, but now we have some in the back under our raspberry bushes, (why waste space?) and hopefully they will flourish. They certainly flourish for my mother, but since she has one of the greenest thumbs I know of, we will just hope for the best. It just got me thinking about how many sources of fruit we have in terms of storage/home production. We have raspberry bushes, and some strawberry plants, and that's about it at this point. In our climate, it would not be productive to grow melons, and we could (and probably will) grow tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, but the fresh variety are not popular with everyone in the household. Well, I have left off one plant that sits in the corner of our garden, but which my husband has continuously given away because I don't know what to do with it--a rhubarb plant---which must really like our yard, given the fact that it just gives and gives and gives. So it hasn't gone to waste, at least not very much, but it hasn't helped our food stores in any appreciable way. I only mention that in the interest of full disclosure, but it's amazing how many times full disclosure ends up making me look bad.... I know the leaves are poisonous, and you should only use the stalks. I just haven't used the stalks, so maybe I should look into that.

So we could always invest in lots and lots and lots of canned fruit, (as you can imagine, already in the plan) but fresh fruit is better, and what's more, if conditions are right, fruit bearing plants can be the gift that keeps on giving if they're properly tended. (For example, my husband is quite the expert at thinning out and properly maintaining the raspberry bushes, which can get quite exuberant in their growing habits.) My mom suggested fruit- bearing trees, but we are a little hesitant to make that investment at the moment, since we had to cut down the tree in our backyard after it died last year, and now it appears that some of the trees in neighboring yards are heading for the same fate. It also takes time for the fruit-bearing trees to actually produce fruit, but the sooner you start, the sooner you reap the benefits...

Anyway, I have decided to make fruit the subject of my poll this week. When I think about gardens, I usually think vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables. I could always use more ideas on fruits that do well in colder climates and of course, high yield never hurts.... :)


Ginger said...

Smart thinking to consider fruit-bearing trees and plants. You're right, canned fruits are a good investment, but once they're gone, they're gone. Having your own fruit and nut trees would be such a smart investment. Our biggest issue with such things is that we do not live on the property that we plan to retreat to and we are not close enough to care for plants out there. I'm currently planting apple trees and others in containers with the plan to take them with me if at all possible. As far as the detergent - I've made my own off and on, but for some reason, I'm having an allergic reaction to something and I haven't thoughtfully eliminated my homemade detergent as one of the possibilities. I'll check out your fruit poll.

Marie said...

Ginger--I'm impressed with all of your planning--I hope you'll be able to take the container trees with you and that they'll really do well in your future location. It's excellent that you are getting ahead since it takes years until the trees bear fruit.
When it comes to the laundry detergent, skin sensitivities are in the family, so we have always been careful about it, and we even have lotion that we stock up on that works for us. It may seem strange that something like laundry detergent could be a problem since it supposedly rinses out, but I know that it can cause problems. I wish you the best in eliminating whatever is causing an allergic reaction, and thank you for your comment--it is greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Hello Marie,

If you can or plan to start canning, I have a wonderful and easy recipe for rhubarb relish if you are interested. It can be used as a condiment for meats, but I also cook with it. I put chicken pieces in the crock pot, pour a jar over them and then cook on low for 8 to 9 hrs.

If you're interested, drop a comment on my blog or contact me through there.

Marie said...

Supermom--I have not yet acquired the skill of canning, though I am getting closer to convincing myself that I can/should/will learn how because it would be such a wonderful and vitally useful skill to have. I would love to have the rhubarb relish recipe, and I hope that you don't mind that I published your comment, because there may be others that are interested as well. I'm also glad that I now know about your blog...thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

I hope to get a step-by-step post complete with pictures up on my blog this summer after I make this relish, but for now, here's the recipe:

Rhubarb Relish:

1 qt rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1 qt onions, chopped
1 pint vinegar
2 lb brown sugar
1 tsp each cinnamon and all spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Put all of the above into a large pot and cook over medium heat until cooked down. (I use the bottom of my roaster pan but a large stock will work too) It will take 1 1/2 to 2 hrs to cook down. Spoon into sterilized pint jars, wipe jar rims and add lids that have been soaked in hot water and then add rings and tighten. The jars will seal as they cool.

A double recipe will make 7 to 8 pints of relish.

Marie said...

Supermom--Thanks so much--this is fantastic, and it's going in the emergency notebook. Thanks for sharing!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

What zone are you in? There are a LOT of berry bushes that do well in colder climates--loganberries, artic cloudberries, currants, etc.(All stuff I can't grow here)

I also have raisins, dried cranberries, and dried aprictos in my storage.

Marie said...

Prudent Homemaker--We live in Idaho, and the raspberries do really well in our yard, but I don't have experience with the ones you mention.
I forgot dried fruit! One other I forgot about was frozen! I don't feel too bad about the frozen fruit omission because we may not always have electricity in a food storage only situation, but with electricity, it can be awfully helpful...Thanks for your comment!