Friday, April 8, 2011

Fermenting a Plan

My parents were born at the start of the Great Depression, and it shaped the rest of their lives.  They have always worked hard and been amazingly frugal.  They flipped houses before the phrase was invented.  My mother (who had taken tailoring lessons) made most of my clothing and my sister's when we were growing up.  Dad changed the oil and the spark plugs in all of our vehicles.  We mowed our lawn with a push mower and dried our wash on an outdoor clothesline until we moved to the house where squirrels threw black walnut shells at the sheets and permanently stained them.

My parents were possibly the most saving with regard to food.  When I was a small child, we dined in restaurants perhaps two or three times a year on very special occasions.  We always had a garden filled with rhubarb, asparagus, and tomato plants at a minimum; when we had access to more planting space, we also grew zucchini, bush beans, and green bell peppers.  Dad shot a deer or two every hunting season; our steaks, chops, and sausage were all venison.  Mom made her own strawberry jam, rhubarb wine, and (not as successfully) pickles.  Thanks to them, I understand how to make a little grocery money go a very long way.

When I was in high school Mom briefly went through a sourdough bread phase.  Someone gave her some starter and for a while our meals were enlivened by chewy but tasty homemade sourdough loaves.  I don't know whether she grew tired of the baking or the starter died on its own, but one day the sourdough was gone and never returned.

Once I was out on my own I, too, canned peach preserves and bread-and-butter pickles.  I make my own spaghetti sauce and sometimes my own pizza crust, although I no longer have access to deer sausage.  I've never tackled sourdough, though, and lately I've been craving it.  I have a wonderful book called Ultimate Bread (by Eric Treuilleand  Ursula Ferrigno) which includes some great-looking sourdough recipes and an explanation of how to get a starter going and keep it active.  I think once I'm settled and my cookbooks are unpacked I'm going to give sourdough a try.  Any activity that involves saving money and great-tasting food is bound to be a winner - and I'll be that much better equipped to deal with any future economic downturn.

"All sorrows are less with bread." ~Miguel de Cervantes

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