Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Projects Outside the Workshop

One of the lingering benefits from our sailing experience has been the appreciation and satisfaction that comes from being self sufficient.  Our boat was completely able to operate "off the grid" and many weeks could pass before we would need to find a port to re-provision with supplies or water.  We would supplement our supplies with fishing and berries while in remote areas, and simple repairs were done with supplies on hand.  Major failures were either "jury rigged" or done without until proper repairs could be made in port.  This independent style of living brought a lot of satisfaction in the knowledge that we could look after ourselves.

This desire for self sufficiency continues to impact how I continue to live on land and that feeling of independence is a major part of the satisfaction I enjoy when completing a project.  Not everything I need requires a trip to the store - often the materials are readily available and simple - and the supplies we do purchase tend to be more of the basics and less of the processed or finished product.  This last weekend was no exception - and the satisfaction just as real as any project I've churned out in the workshop - even though this one came from the kitchen.

My grandmother is reputed to have said that "no-one will ever starve as long as they keep a sack of beans stored in the attic."  Whether she actually did keep any stashed away is unknown, but her words ring true.  Simple provisions - rice, beans, TVP, flour - can provide the basics for many meals and are easily stored for long periods provided they remain dry.  This weekend's project was tackling one of those provisions; one we enjoy keeping stocked in our "attic."

The recipe I use is adapted from Mennonite's Country-Style Recipes by Esther H. Shank (Harold Press, 1987):

8 cups beans, soaked overnight and cooked for 1 hr in same water, drained, reserving liquid
1 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
2 onions, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
4 Tbsp prepared mustard
4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Mix well along with 4 cups of the reserved bean liquid, fill pint jars and process in pressure canner 75 min at 10 lbs pressure.

There's just something extremely satisfying with a well stocked shelf filled with jars you've prepared yourself.

Even if it did happen in the kitchen.

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