Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Food ramblings

I have the experience, unusual for modern America, of knowing exactly where my food comes from in a very intimate way. While I complained about having to clean my room as a kid, the more everyday task was the one I truly dreaded: weeding the beans. It didn't help that after we had a bumper crop one year, and some of our other veggies didn't make it, I developed the loathing for beans that can come from eating the same thing day in and day out for months. *And* had to help put them up, so we'd have 'em all winter, too. Meh.

This thought is mostly inspired by Peterson Toscano's recent thoughts on attending the Delaware County Fair. Now, most of his pictures depict rather smaller animal pens than I know my county fair to have, but his complaint that fairs are vegan-unfriendly made me think about fairs, good and bad. While obtaining raw vegan food other than salads might prove difficult there, my home fair had plenty of cooked vegan options - corn on the cob straight from the Grange booth being my personal favorite, preferably followed by fruit stew over at one of the church booths. (Used to be a dollar, with dumplings for 50 cents extra - dumplings probably being dairy.)

And I wonder how many Americans have even picked their own food, if only from a "Pick Your Own" place. And what growing practices are used at that place? (And what are the environmental consequences of tomatoes in Maryland coming from California or even Chile?) Another food memory of mine was going out to the fields with Grandpa on one of his old tractors. I'd balance on the hitch and hang on to the back of his seat and we'd go bouncing down the road and over to the cornfields where we would harvest the sweet corn less than an hour before dinner. Once we'd gotten back, I'd go sit on the porch out front while Alfred, the dog, tried to figure out what I was doing, and shuck corn. And no, kids, do not try this at home. I'm sure it's illegal now, and if I had slipped, I would have been no more than a greasy spot.

I've been treed by a hog, attacked by a chicken, nuzzled by cows, inspected by goats, and ignored by sheep. I have spent long, hot summers canning, freezing, drying, and generally putting up, hoeing beans, picking produce, avoiding cow pats, and escaping into the woods and streams. I've kneaded bread, churned ice cream, made butter, gotten yelled at for playing in the barn where the crops are stored. And yet I'm grateful not to have to eat beans all winter.


Blogger Lorcan said...

"I've been treed by a hog, attacked by a chicken, nuzzled by cows, inspected by goats, and ignored by sheep. " Yes... the joys of country childhood... it is why I think, many vegitarians are city folk... after being attacked by a goose, well... somehow they just taste better! Ice cream! Oh yes, we used to have the old hand cranker, where my brother and I would have to take turns cranking it, a brutal task, or siting on the churn to keep the inner part down in the ice and salt, and equally brutal task, aching arms or blue behind... but the ice creame tasted better, sort of like the geese tasting better I guess!!!

8/25/2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Our churn had a little latch which kept the ice cream bit down, so we didn't sit on the churn, and we younger kids would crank until our arms felt like they'd fall off, but then someone older would tell us our arms were too weak to do it right, and they'd start cranking. The last two turns were always done by Grandpa, who would say the same thing to the young men and turn those last couple of cranks. Then Granny would pop the container down in the big freezer, and we'd have dinner, knowing there was ice cream and some kind of fruit afterwards.

I still think chocolate ice cream isn't quite right - gotta be vanilla - made with brown sugar if we're really lucky.

As for the tasting better...

I think I'll post about the hog who treed me...

8/25/2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Little Black Car said...

Hey, we're looking for homemade ice-cream recipes. Any tips? We've tried a few but most of them have been too rich, or involve things like raw eggs which are probably OK as long as they're frozen, but other kids' parents tend to sort of panic when they hear that.

8/26/2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Try using pasteurized egg-substitute.

Yes, it's more expensive, but...

Ours was cooked, but very rich. I've got a great recipe, though, for citrus ice that's totally vegan. Essentially, you make a simple syrup that would guarantee any dentist a living for life, then mangle citrus into it (not sweet oranges - they tend to taste kind of insipid in this. Lemons, limes, grapefruit, bitter orange...) You want to make sure you get some pulp in, which is why I say mangle rather than juice. Leave out the pith, but grate some of the zest into the mixture, and freeze. Yum.

8/27/2006 6:16 AM  
Blogger Little Black Car said...

Sounds good. Thanks!

8/28/2006 2:14 PM  
Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

That's great you had those joyful experiences growing up.

Most of us do not, but we do live with the illusion that our supermarket food comes from little country farms with happy animals and wholesome earth friendly organic processes. That is a myth perpetuated by the industrial corporate machine that spends billions each year on clever PR and packaging.

Hopefully you still get your food from local farmers who use ethical and healthy practices in raising their livestock and growing their crops. But even so, milk production to me is a violent and cruel practice. A cow is forced to give birth so that she continues to produce milk. They often take her calf away to use as veal as she continually cries out for missing her off-spring they milk her two or three times a day. Not to mention the devastation to the evironment with cow waste getting into our waterways. I don't want to be part of that system.

I have to say in my quest to live a non-violent life, I can no longer eat animal products including dairy. That's my leading. I won't force it on others who do not see it that way. (But I won't hide the Light as I know it under a bushel either :-)

9/03/2006 8:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home