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No Grocery Stores or Restaurants for a Year

 
pollinator
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My husband and I just made a commitment to each other that we will be visiting no grocery stores or restaurants for a year.  Are there others who have done this?  What were your biggest challenges?  Of course we have been developing our skills and our property for ten years, and have harvested our own fruits, vegetables, pork, chicken and beef, so we have a great start.  It may be the little things that sneak up on us.  You know like peanut butter, coffee or baking soda.  This will be an adventure. . .A picture of our bee hives for interest.
threehives.jpg
[Thumbnail for threehives.jpg]
 
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Wow, that's awesome Sherri!

I'm not in the position to be able to do it yet, but I hope to be able to do this too in the future.

Any tips on how to best be able to do it?
 
gardener
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I would love to be able to do this someday!

So, for me, going to restaurants is about more than just getting food there, it's usually about going out there and celebrating a day in a special way. Perhaps homesteaders can get that celebratory feeling from having a party at their homes and serving only their own produce and foods to friends and family?

Anyway, it is inspiring to hear that you can do this. And that is just about the ultimate in prepping and resilience planning, I think!
 
Sherri Lynn
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As far as how we are doing it, I read a book once that if you eat it, plant it.  So we have been busy planting fruit trees, nut trees, blueberry bushes, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries,  our annual gardens of corn, beans, kale, lettuce, melons, green beans, etc.  We have put in mushroom mycelium in hardwood mulch and logs.  We have egg laying chickens, 3 cows and 2 pigs and meat chickens in a chicken tractor.  In addition, I did not forget my kitchen garden with rosemary, sage, garlic, walking onions, lovage, dill, cilantro, chamomile, lemon balm, fennel (mostly use the seeds for tea and sausage) oregano and I am sure I forgot something.  We even have a couple of spicebush trees for a cinnamon substitute and some chicory planted for a coffee substitute.  We have three bee hives for honey, and we will be growing sorghum this year for the first time for another sweetener.  Our pecan trees will be about ten this year, and we have hazelnut trees as well as wild hickories.  We have rain barrels out where hoses won't reach and solar panels where electricity won't reach.  So it's now or never.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Rachel, we do potlucks so I don't have to do all the cooking or the dishes from time to time and take turns doing that with our neighbors.  We also do potlucks with family for special occasions or just cook for them.  It is amazing.  We are also trying to open up an on farm produce stand and are getting our friends to bring a drink and play cornhole with us on Thursdays.
 
pollinator
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That's awesome! At my old home I had gotten to the point where I was mainly just buying non-perishables at the store; brown rice, dried beans, lentils, flour, cooking oils, etc., and growing most of our fruits and veggies. We also had goats for milk. I think that, environmentally, producing your own perishables is a great first step, because those are the things being shipped all over the country in refrigerated trucks, etc. It seems like simple foods like dried beans and grains would have a much smaller footprint, if I buy those, and in most cases are harder to produce myself.

I moved to a new area and climate last year, but hope to get at least to that point again. In this climate I think I can also grow more stuff too, and rely less on grains and store-bought legumes, though I think we will always buy at least some of those. I am growing some dried beans this year and hope to grow all of them next year. Where I lived before, it was too wet for beans to dry properly, so I didn't even try. I also have potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash planted, so hopefully we will be eating more of those and less grain. Though I need to plant way more next year if I want those to be substantial parts of our diet.  
 
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I just went to a restaurant for the first time in over 2 years.  Frankly, after the first 30 days, it became the norm.  

Grocery stores are another matter.  I have gone 3 months without buying groceries when I was on a homestead. That was due to poverty.....so in one respect, it was easy.   We had a good garden and plenty of coffee. If I remember, protein was the challenge.  We had a great many meals with potatoes and green beans.

Keep us updated. This is going to be a great thread.
 
gardener
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I'm looking forward to reading your updates! I love the idea of the challenge, though I don't see myself being able to do it in the near future unless circumstances forced me to. I'm curious what "sneaks up" on you or what you miss. Baking soda/powder, salt, and more variety of flours and nuts would probably be my things to stock up on. Is stocking up pre-challenge against the spirit of what you're aiming for?
 
Lila Stevens
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Sherri Lynn wrote:Rachel, we do potlucks so I don't have to do all the cooking or the dishes from time to time and take turns doing that with our neighbors.  We also do potlucks with family for special occasions or just cook for them.  It is amazing.  We are also trying to open up an on farm produce stand and are getting our friends to bring a drink and play cornhole with us on Thursdays.



I have a friend that does potluck and cornhole a few times a month. It is always so nice when we manage to make it to one.
 
master steward
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Sherri, I feel this is totally doable.

Sherri said, "Are there others who have done this?  What were your biggest challenges?



In 2020, We went to the grocery store in March our next trip to the grocery store was in September.

I don't remember when the last time I was in a restaurant was.  Might have been 2018, I just don't know.

I did pick up a McDonald's burger for dear hubby, in Feb. 2020.

Sherri said, "It may be the little things that sneak up on us.  You know like peanut butter, coffee or baking soda.



Those can be ordered online, is that cheating? Or is it okay to order online?

I buy dear hubby snacks online and occasionally a few other things.

I fantasize about getting chicken fried steak from cracker barrel, a burger from Whataburger, and a few other things when I see commercials on TV.

We went to town today to buy material to rebuild our Well House. Normally that would include a trip to the grocery store.  I went about two weeks ago when we had to make another trip to town so we skipped the store today.
 
pollinator
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Tough call I think.
Are you going to store food in its basic structure?
IE Ground flour, milk from cows?
 
Anne Miller
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If you did not stock up before starting this challenge, I am wondering about a lot of things that I buy at the grocery.

Some of the things I am thinking about could be bought at other stores. Like antacids, laxatives, Sam-E, and other OTC?

Then there are things that a person could do without like parchment paper, matches, etc.

As far as I know, almost every household generates some trash. What about trash bags?

What about batteries?

March 2020, dear hubby started really worrying about items that he cannot do without. So I paid a lot of money buying these on eBay.  Grape Jam, Hot sauce, razor blades, etc?

I know your goal is a different goal than what my goals were in 2020.

My goal was just not to leave our property.

 
Sherri Lynn
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Anne Miller:

Many of the things you list we don't buy, like over the counter medicines or even medicine (rare).  I believe in the power of herbs and have them all planted.  As far as indigestion items, if something causes me indigestion, I won't eat it or if it is a rare slip, I just know there will be consequences and deal with them without medicine.  Many medicines are put together with solvents that make me sicker than what I was before I used them.  Mostly petroleum based items.  

This challenge was mainly for food.  I make our own jams and jellies and sauces.  We grow cayenne pepper which I use instead of black pepper.
However, I also make our own soap, and will be trying to make our own shampoo.  We will still buy animals, animal feed (until we can figure out how to grow it all), tools, etc.

Sherri
 
pollinator
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On my little urban plot I've just started a challenge of no produce buying this year.   All my herbs, plants, berries, etc.  will be from my own lot or foraged only.  Wish me luck.  I'm not in a position to do protein and fats that way but it's super cool if you are!  I hope  you post updates!
 
Sherri Lynn
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Heather:

Good luck!  You would probably enjoy reading a book called Possum Living by Dolly Freed.  This was a way they grew their food and meat in the city.  Great book!
 
gardener
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Each year, starting in late spring, I try to not buy any produce into as late into the fall as I can go. I'll make an exception for buying bulk things in season direct from local farms, especially if I can't grow it myself. For example on our way back from visiting family on the east side of the mountains, I'm not going to turn down a stop at an orchard to buy 50lbs of fresh tree ripened peaches and apricots. (It's only two hours away but a completely different climate because of the mountain.)

Back when we had a bunch of chickens, that was our protein source and we ate a TON of eggs. Now we have a chest freezer and we get a local cow or lamb once a year. This year it's full of elk so we won't be buying meat this summer either. I'll probably just be buying flour and other grain products and maybe milk for my kids who like to eat cereal. And chocolate and sugar (we have summer birthdays and birthday cake is a big deal at our house!)

I would like to not have to buy groceries all year but so far I don't grow enough for to preserve any of it. We seriously have 30+ fruit bushes and trees and my kids eat everything before it can make it into the house. By the time the kids are grown up, I'm sure the trees will be producing a lot more and then I'll probably be giving food away. We usually have enough squash and potatoes and corn flour to last until January. The only thing I have year round to eat are brassicas and things like walking onions.

I suggested to my teenage daughter that we could try a challenge of not buying any stuff (non-food stuffs) for a year and she looked at me like I was insane.
 
master steward
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A local couple tried this challenge and wrote some articles about it. They admitted that if it weren't for the support of friends, family and neighbors, they would have given up, which I find quite interesting. It's amazing how much feeling like one has support around you can get one through tough times - that and a crabbing license got them over a few weeks when food was scarce.

There are threads here on permies with crop calculators and key foods for a healthy lifestyle. For example, having enough healthy fat/oil in one's diet is critical as that is necessary for the body to absorb other things like Vit A.  It's also important to remember that different bodies have different needs, strengths and weaknesses. I tend to burn through Magnesium for whatever reason, and yet it's not one of the easiest minerals to get from food, (or maybe I'm not absorbing it well for some other reason?) How you prepare and store food will also affect its nutritional content - there's a good reason many cultures developed cultured foods like Sauerkraut and kefir.

I do know that in the 1800's in England, there was a size of land that was known to be capable of supporting a family at the subsistence level. When people started being pushed off those sorts of plots to provide labor in the city factories, much of that information/skill set was lost. It's good to see Permies recreating it!
 
Anne Miller
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I remember an article on Mother Earth News where a couple had achieved the status of being self-sustaining.

I am not sure this is the one I remember thought these people moved to their homestead in 1996:

https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-sufficient-living-zm0z13onzrob/

We all just need to keep working towards that lifestyle.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Jay, thanks for the tips.  I am thankful I am doing this with my husband as support.  One day at a time.  We shall see.  The good thing about fat is we raise our own pigs on pasture and render the lard, so we have that.  On magnesium, have you tried taking epsom salt baths?  I understand it can be absorbed through the skin.  I keep it on hand.

Anne, thanks, I will read the article.  I am currently reading through my stash of Mother Earth News.  lol.  I am on volume 4. . .
 
Anne Miller
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Jay said, "I tend to burn through Magnesium for whatever reason, and yet it's not one of the easiest minerals to get from food, (or maybe I'm not absorbing it well for some other reason?)



I also have problems with Magnesium so I take a supplement.  I also use the Magnesium Bath Crystals which also helps with pain relief.  It is similar to Epsom Salts baths.

I asked Mr. Google what is the difference between them.

{quote] is the rate of absorption into the body. The molecular structure of Magnesium Chloride is much more easily absorbed into the body than that of Epsom Salt.
 
Sherri Lynn
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We are on day 8.  So far we ran out of mayonnaise.  Luckily I had the ingredients to make some, so still not missing anything.  Meals have not been much different.  Eating a lot of asparagus and salad.  As well as hamburgers and sweet potatoes that we grew last year.  Had some frozen shrimp on a couple of our chef salads, as well as boiled eggs from our chickens.  Life is good!  Mayonnaise recipe
 
pollinator
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If I understand correctly, this is not just grocery store/food, you intend to not shop period for anything off at all, and to be self sustaining, 100%; including no internet shopping.  Below is what might cause a challenge, in my opinion.

Supplies for repairs to: fabric, roofing, plumbing, machinery, appliances, tools etc. as most of this is cheaper to do yourself, stocking up here might be critical.  

Always think about the critical infrastructure: well, power, heat/cooling, plumbing and everything you need to sustain or repair these systems.  

Have a well thought out disaster plan (fire, flood...how will you evacuate, get the animals to safety, and safeguard your home, farm and investments).

Health Items: thermometer, first aid (bandaging, splints, crutches, air cast...in case someone gets injured.

Food: all that stuff that expires and becomes useless; you mentioned baking soda, but lots more stuff has a very limited shelf life.  Supplies to store and preserve food (sugar, salt, vinegar, dehydrator, mason jars...).

Treats: all that once in a while stuff like ice cream, candy, special bakery items.

Animals: from baby bottles/formula to daily grains/hay to parasite/infection/disease control.

Think about what your backups will be if one of you gets injured or becomes ill...this is where everything can go sideways when you only plan for best case scenario; always plan for worst case, cover your butt.

I do not in any way intend for my comment to be discouraging, I just love playing devils advocate!  

I am excited for the challenge you are about to embark on, and jealous of your abilities and plans; I certainly would cave within a few months!  

Good luck on this adventure, please share where you had your triumphs and difficulties so others can more easily follow in your footsteps.

 
pollinator
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Going on a journey like this can be a real eye opener. It surely was for us. It took us several years of learning about producing food, about setting up a local trading network, about gathering and hunting, about changing our ideas and our eating habits. I now know that I can produce 100% of our food of we had to, while still having a varied and interesting diet. Knowing this has changed our lives, has given us confidence in this shaky economy.  

I no longer adhere to the idea, but it surely is nice to know that we could do it. We produce most of our own food, but now deeply appreciate our weekly restaurant meals, our non-local fruits, our special treats, the spices that I cannot produce myself.

Best of luck on your journey! You will have many challenges, and like it was for us, I hope you enjoy coming up with solutions.
 
pollinator
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Sherri, interestingly enough, I just listened to a podcast over the weekend about how Hawthorn Farm in Washington state went a year only eating food from their land.  Here is the link if you or anybody else on this thread wants to listen!

https://gardenerd.com/blog/podcast-hand-to-mouth-with-alexia-allen/
 
Sherri Lynn
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Lorinne:  This particular challenge is just about food, however, we are quite resourceful with other stuff as well.  Just brought home a trailer load of pallets. . .

Su Ba:  Did you happen to keep a journal?  I would love to see it!

Look forward to reading about Hawthorn Farm!

Today is day 9.  Ran out of butter and made a pie crust with lard.  I am going to have to tweak that.  Came out a little too crumbly.  Ran out of cheese.  I will miss that.  On the bright side, we just brought home a borrowed bull so we can freshen our cows for milk.
 
Su Ba
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Sherri, I didn’t keep a journal specifically about this topic, but I did post a blog covering our move to our present location, the creating of our new life. The blog covers numerous years. I stopped the blog with the covid crisis due to lack of time. Instead, I used my time to help my community during these difficult tunes, leaving no extra time for blogging at my day’s end.

You can check out my blog at kaufarmer.blogspot.com. I hope to get back to blogging there again in a few months. It will quite good reading to relate what has happened over the past 2 years.
 
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Alexia here from Hawthorn Farm, ears perked up by the no-grocery-store idea.

My husband Daniel and I did an entirely hand-harvested food year in 2017. We still grow the bulk of our calories (excuse me while I set down this mug of coffee). If we wanted salt, we went to the ocean and got sea water. Trade with friends for other hand-harvested food was legal. For example, friends brought us sidewalk lemons from their trips to California.  We had practiced increasingly long stretches of time doing this challenge for the previous 6 years, and our skills grew each year. So the actual year wasn't a big deal. But we did grow a wedding feast and get married that year! I was excited to get married, but eating an actual sweet maple syrup cake was also AWESOME. Big thanks to the friends who made maple syrup!

I had my own home-made rennet and cheese cultures, but ended up using bought culture and rennet because let's face it, my home-made rennet produced variable and sometimes gross cheese. I relegated that to the category of, "I could figure this out in a post-apocalyptic world, but I don't need to figure it out now."

I missed peanut butter occasionally. Trying to grow peanuts just fed the rats.

Simplicity rules. I have shifted away from trying to grow enough to replicate a grocery store diet, and be satisfied with simple foods. A baked squash. Steamed greens. A morsel of cheese and an apple. This has gotten easier as my soil improves--the food tastes better and is more satisfying.

The social aspect of a strict diet was the hardest part. "No thanks, I can't accept your muffins/homemade salsa/dinner invitation because I am on a random anachronistic strict diet." But the strictness was important to us, and made us take the challenge seriously. After all, most people throughout human history have eaten that way. It's well within human capacity. But it also highlights the ecosystem and actual ground and solar energy and fertility and time and muscular ability and attention needed to grow enough food to survive a year. That's going to be a different equation at other latitudes, but I can say that the challenge continues in a variety of ways here, and I continue to think daily about land-human relationships through the lens of food.

okay, picking up my coffee cup again... And happy to answer questions or have conversations with anyone interested. My life is devoted to beautiful food for everyone. I encourage everyone to take on whatever form of challenge suits them and helps them get where they want to go!
 
Jay Angler
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Alexia Allen wrote:

The social aspect of a strict diet was the hardest part. "No thanks, I can't accept your muffins/homemade salsa/dinner invitation because I am on a random anachronistic strict diet." But the strictness was important to us, and made us take the challenge seriously. After all, most people throughout human history have eaten that way.

For a single year, I get your point. It helped you focus on what was important and it may help people who read about your accomplishment, pay a bit more attention to where food, (and many other things we use in our daily life,) comes from. However, as you also pointed out in a bit of "an aside" sort of way, is that this is exactly how people used to eat as little as 200 years ago in many parts of the world, and still do in many parts of the world, so the "social aspect" didn't exist - you could eat with your neighbors because they also ate from the land around them.
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We have not been to a restaurant since Covid began...missed it at first but have gotten into cooking from recipes. We find some great ones on Instagram and YouTube. We did not realize how much FUN making things from scratch daily can be... together! We don't grow enough food (due to lack of sunlight in our magical forest location) to not visit a grocery store 2x a month (which is 45 minutes drive each way). And the bears make chicken keeping an invitation to mass murder in this area. You are very fortunate to have this opportunity.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Alexia:  Thanks for all the tips.  We are not being quite so strict, I think.  If it is a homemade potluck meal with our neighbors, we will not turn it down.  Most of them are homesteaders as well.  As a matter of fact the church we are attending is having a family fun day where they are ordering pizza.  The pizza is definitely off our list, but we are considering making a large pizza with farm ingredients (and some leftover flour) to bring for us and to share.  As far as cheese culture is concerned, I mostly was making farmhouse cheddar which I cultured with kefir that I just keep feeding.  The rennet, however, is a good point.  Wonder if I could/should put my current supply of rennet in a freezer until our cow refreshes (currently have a bull visiting)? Have you ever tried this?

Jay, thanks for your comments and knowledge as always.

Chave,  you are so right.  My husband and I have been creating from scratch meals for a long time.  Especially since our son was allergic to food additives (he is now 34 but we have kept it up).  As a matter of fact we just made some flour tortillas together last night from a wonderful video that taught me about hydration and letting gluten have time to relax and work.  I started a new subject with it called Back To the Land Cooking.  
Staff note (Jay Angler) :

In case people are intrigued: https://permies.com/t/179850/kitchen/Land-Cooking

 
Sherri Lynn
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We have some foods that we purchased from the grocery store before this challenge (not because we stocked up, but because we normally buy a little more due to not wanting to waste our time at grocery stores or because the organic mill we go to is a distance away).  For example, some leftover organic bread flour, organic corn meal, etc.  I have found that as I run out of things, I am increasingly going into conserve mode with the items I know I will run out of.  This brings about the challenge of changing how I store things.  For example, I am thinking of packaging my flour in smaller packages and putting into the freezer (instead of the 5 gallon bucket with lid it is now in).  Or moving other items to the freezer for longer term storage.  This also makes me wonder about my cultures like my everlasting yeast and kefir that I don't want to lose due to not using/feeding as often.  This is something I would not have thought of before the challenge.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Day 15.  Well the cupboards appear a little barer, but most of our food is in the canning cupboard or the freezers or the gardens now.  Sometimes I look at the bareness and think, "oh boy.  What have I done?"  and sometimes I am just excited that we are emptying out all the stuff that wasn't grown on the farm.  This is something I have wanted to see happen for a while.  I am continuing to explore more food sources.  For example, we are almost to the end of the store bought noodles and I was thinking, "What am I going to use with all the spaghetti sauce that I put up?"  So a friend is teaching me how to make lasagne with zuchini instead of noodles and we are planning to plant some spaghetti squash.  Our gardens are looking fabulous.  We are still picking asparagus.  Bluberries and blackberries will be next.  
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Sherri Lynn
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Tonight's farm dinner was really good.  Sweet Potato Salad (ok, so I always do some substitution.  Dried figs for cranberries.  Mustard and some horseradish instead of Dijon mustard, Dried cilantro and rosemary instead of parsley).  Delicious, and with some deviled eggs made with homemade mayo, the meal was complete.  Sweet Potato Salad
 
Sherri Lynn
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Day 19.  One thing a lot of people may not know about is cheese withdrawal.  We ran out of cheese.  The good thing is I have learned that food can still taste good without it.  The bad thing is I am having all of these weird dreams.  Now I have been on lots of weird diets in the past, including a 27 day fast, and 6 months without dairy.  I know that of all the withdrawals, cheese is the worst.  I can get over sugar in 3 days, but for cheese it's about 2 weeks.  Starts with a few headaches and always includes weird dreams.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Can you eat well when trying to live off the land?  Given our menu for our recent anniversary trip in the camper, I will let you decide.  It did require some organization and advanced cooking.

Supper:  Buffalo chicken wings (harvested on farm with homemade bbq sauce), pesto rice (leftover rice along with homemade pesto sauce), salad (fresh harvested romaine lettuce with dried tomatoes and pears from last year and strawberry vinaigrette made with 1/3 strawberry jelly, 1/3 olive oil leftover, and 1/3 pear scrap vinegar homemade last year), breakfasts - sausage (harvested last year), eggs with rosemary and asparagus (eggs from our chickens, fresh picked asparagus, and rosemary we grew, dried and pulverised in the blender), lunches bbq sandwiches (from pig we harvested last year and sauce made from spaghetti sauce we put up last year, homemade vinegar and some leftover sugar), homemade bread made with bread starter, leftover flour.  Oh and some homemade blueberry wine that we had made prior to this challenge.  Mint tea with fresh picked mint.  Life is good!  
 
Sherri Lynn
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Every time I hear the news I think maybe I should be buying stuff right now..  Then it's nah, I am just practicing for when.  There are times when I am just fine and times when I experience buyer's remorse like running out of butter.  But I don't really think I would do this if I didn't stick to the commitment all the way.  So far so good.

I am learning to try new things and some work out and some don't.  For example, today I harvested garlic scapes, lemon balm, asparagus, chamomile flowers, comfrey and plantain (so far).  For breakfast, I decided to try some sauteed garlic scapes with asparagus and lemon balm with a couple of fried eggs along with salt and cayenne pepper.  The smell and the flavor was wonderful.  However, the bottom part of the garlic scapes and the lemon balm small stems were quite fibrous.  A really nice session of dental floss and a tooth brush followed.  Oh well. Sometimes we just learn what not to do.
 
It's hard to fight evil. The little things, like a nice sandwich, really helps. Right tiny ad?
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