Monday, January 3, 2011

Home Economy

Roasted prime rib and steak
A couple days ago, I took the leftover prime rib and steak bones out of the fridge and put them in a kettle of water  to make stock. The bones had the rich smell of the dry rub from the roasted meat. As the stock simmered on the wood cookstove, that rich smell pervaded the kitchen along with the radiant heat of the stove. 

Ready to freeze

After the stock cooled, I poured it into jars and put them on the back porch to "prefreeze" overnight before wedging it into the freezer. Beautiful stock. It will make a delectable meal some night, probably when I need a quick nourishing soup after a long cold day. 

Before Christmas, I went through the pumpkins, looking for one to bake for pie, and I was amazed that not a single pumpkin had started to rot. They were all pristine. Perfect rinds, perfect stems. It consistently amazes me that a vegetable harvested months ago, can sit around in a cardboard box all those months and still be edible. 

Perfect flesh

I know the apples in the cellar are getting softer. By the end of February, they'll be more fit for cooking than eating. But they will still be edible

Making stock, sorting the winter squash, eating tons of beets and carrots as they get rubberier each week,  I never thought of this as home economics.  Sometime before I started public school, home economics had morphed from the science of food preservation - like how to can venison, to the consumption of preserved food - how to make desserts out of Jell-O and Cool Whip.  I avoided home-ec.

Kentucky farmer and author, Wendell Berry got me thinking differently about the economics of maintaining a household. He writes about what it feels like to be responsible from start to finish, for something made, something important and satisfying, like food. He says that when I grow pumpkins for pies, I am practicing a science and an art. He says that a home economy has spiritual value, that it provides the means of life and the longevity of nature and culture.  Count me in.

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef