Welcome to my first blog post of the New Year and thanks for visiting.
One of the things which happens at the end of the year is that we have lots of birthdays to celebrate, including mine. I always start the year officially older. Our celebrations of Christmas and New Year always spread over several days, to try to give the birthday girls a moment in the sunshine too. We had lunch with friends and lunch with the adults of the family, and a picnic afternoon tea in the park with the grandchildren, just for birthday celebrations.
Did you give and receive presents recently? One of the things now residing in my house is a new attachment for my Kenwood Chef- it is a food grinder.
The reason this grinder was on the Christmas Wish list is that I was interested to go further with my experiments in building skills for slow food, slow living. The questions was, would it be cheaper to make my own mince and sausages? The 2.3 kg pork shoulder I bought was $20. Pork sausages are about $8-9 per 450g this week so making my own would save about half the money of buying 2.2 kg of sausages. (I am using for this example good quality sausages, not the cheap 'goodness knows what is in them' kind).
I tried it for the first time this week, making a boneless shoulder of pork into mince. I then made meatballs with some of it to serve with pasta and tomato sauce, and froze the rest. I have some sausage casings on order -it will be interesting to see if I can manage the process of actually filling the cases and making sausages. I am also looking into what else I can make with this attachment. The process, though slow-ish, was enjoyable and I will certainly go further with it.
I already have established several old timey sorts of habits and skills - I can make a pretty good sourdough loaf, most of my cakes turn out fine from scratch, I am now a regular pastry maker so pies and flans are often eaten here. My husband makes yoghurt and jams and chutney. There are pickled onions and pickled vegetables in the fridge for summer salads, which we made ourselves.
Of course we also try to grow food in our suburban garden, and whilst there are some successes -the blueberries have been fabulous-there are also failures. No strawberry has ever made it to ripeness in my garden without some pest eating it before I did! After several years, the mulberry is now producing decent fruit, and the rhubarb we pick is now both chunky and red.
Summer is well established now. The rains have gone, my water tanks are half full, and the irrigation is the focus of our garden survival. DH thinks we need a new solanoid thingo and a new controller for it. Shade has been spread around to help everything cope.
DH is a partner in the old fashioned skills, with his fabulous set of tools in the shed. Today he is working on my sewing room door, repainting it after sanding and making it nice again. I have a new sign to go on it when it is done.
The grandchildren have a swing set in their garden, and one of the components that they loved was a stand-on swing. On Christmas Day it broke, so we brought it home and DH made a new piece for it out of wood, and sealed it. It was a bit tricky due to the ropes involved, which he did not want to undo, but he worked out a design which enabled the new wood to be inserted without undoing the ropes at all.
The thing about this kind of slow living that many people comment upon is that it seems like a lot of work, and that they don't have time. Yes it is work but my feeling is that the work is the kind that gives deep satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. How else should we fill our days, except with the stuff of being independent and resourceful and practical, about the things which go to a good life without consuming more of the earth's resources than we need or can afford? Now that we are retired, of course we have more time to devote to these things. It would be hard to live like this in the conduct of a full time job and with young children, unless something were to change -if you could afford a part time job, for example, or if finally the kids were in school all week.
Finally some resources for you:
Jill WInger the Prairie Homestead - https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/author/jill