Ree's post got me to thinking about how we manage food here in the wilds of Virginia. We live in a sparsely-populated region of the Appalachian mountains, and in most ways, I love the isolation. But that same isolation that is normally a balm to my soul means stores like Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart, and Costco are at least an hour away, with several mountains between here and there. There's a nice little hometown grocery about 25 miles to the north (no mountains), but I have no other reason to go there, so I don't. Locally, you can buy pricey essentials five miles up the road, and 14 miles away there's a Dollar General that will get you by on a lot of things. But real grocery shopping is an intentional thing around here, complete with a long list and in warm weather, coolers to keep cold things cold on the long drive home. No matter why we travel to the valley, our trip always includes a final stop at the grocery store and gas station. We Highlanders never waste a trip across the mountains!
Both Robin and I grew up with family vegetable gardens. Our parents were children during the Depression, and since neither family was overly wealthy, a garden was necessary to ease the burden of high grocery bills that go along with growing families. Therefore, when we got married, planting a garden was a given. Every year since, we've raised a lot of our own food. Nowadays that's all the rage, you know: buy local, eat locally grown, raise your own. There's an entire movement toward things like community gardens, gardening in pots and beds, and eating fresh. Along with the garden comes canning and freezing all those delicious fresh vegetables. Unlike most of Pioneer Woman's blog followers, what came to my mind when I read her post was not big and flashy grocery stores, but our cellar and freezer. Oh, I buy a lot at the store, but we stock up a little differently around here.
Welcome to our cellar! It has all the classic characteristics of a cellar: rough shelving, ample spider webs, layers of dust and dirt, and dim light.
The latch is a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, getting the door open is a cinch.
Once inside, you'll find enough food to last us through several winters. There are potatoes,
and more potatoes,
even purple potatoes! We like potatoes.
There are rows of jars of tomatoes, tomato juice,
and green beans.
Then there are the foods that take a little more preparation - recipes for canned goodness that you just can't get from the store. Things like my mother's yummy sweet pickles. I make a lot of these!
Robin made a lot of dill pickles this year. As you can see, he didn't get overly concerned about uniformity when he was cutting and slicing.
He's also not afraid to experiment, as evidenced by these canned green tomatoes. We're told they fry up real nice...guess we'll find out!
We love homemade salsa!
This spaghetti sauce recipe is a country fast food: brown a pound of hamburger, dump in the sauce, cook some spaghetti and supper is on the table in a jiffy.
New to our cellar this year is pepper jelly. I think I made five batches!! Each batch came out a different color, depending on the combination of peppers I used. Needless to say, I love the stuff, and I'm finding out cream cheese isn't the only thing it's good on.
I'd show you our freezers (yes, we have more than one) but they're too much of a jumble right now, not at all a pretty sight. As thankful as I am for all they contain, digging around in a freezer is not on my list of fun things to do! Suffice it to say they are full of various meats, vegetables (like corn and lima beans), applesauce, and fruits (especially strawberries and peaches).
We also have to stock up on firewood. Robin has been hard at work on that these last few weeks.
And so we are stocked up for the winter. My mother always said she never had to worry about me going hungry or being cold as long as I was married to Robin! When Y2K was looming, just before the turn of the century, many of our friends and neighbors said they were coming to live with us if all the dire predictions of computer failure came to pass. Sometimes I wonder just how long we could go without buying any food. We would run out of things like flour and sugar, but I bet we wouldn't go hungry for a long, long, time. Consequently, we're always a little puzzled by folks who don't have a store of food and fuel on hand. For us, stocking up is necessary and natural. Our cellar, freezers, and wood pile are sweet reminders of God's unfailing provision. He really does meet our every need, and for that we're always grateful.