Food for the Winter Soul

                  Homegrown Organic Squash

Food.  I love Food.  My whole life revolves around Food.  As the matriarch of a family with 7 children and now several grandchildren, I am acutely aware of how important food is.   And being a diabetic, food directly affects every aspect of my life.   I usually make meals from “scratch”  using whole foods.  Now that it’s winter, our meals have changed from barbequed zucchini, peppers and potatoes.  We have more cooked “starchy” foods like carrots, squash, turnip, and potatoes in meals of stew, chili, roasted meats, “breakfast for dinner”,  lasagna and other pasta.   (I recently read that Chinese Traditional Medicine recommends cooked starchy foods during the cold months)

Yesterday I had a nice chat with my cousin Maureen Sinclair about “the good old days” -we were reminiscing about our grandparents farm:   what an incredible place!  No wonder our Grandmother lived till she was 102 years old!  Even into the year 2000+, they heated the house with wood they cut themselves and cooked everything they ate on that cookstove.  They grew all their own potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, herbs and much more (AND often gave alot of it away to anyone who needed it) storing it during the winter in a glorious smelling earthen-floored root cellar below the dining room.  They raised chickens, pigs, and cows to feed themselves or trade for other products like flour.  Maureen and I chuckled at the memory of taking our turns churning the butter 50 years ago!  As simple as it sounds, their life was very demanding.  I can only hope to achieve some of what I consider their successes.

I’m not a JIT (Just In Time) kinda person (my son Marty worked at a fruit/veggie store and they actually called the delivery vehicle the “JIT truck”).  Many people only have a 3 day supply of food and shop on-the-fly every day with no meal planning.  On the other hand, I plan meals well in advance.  I have a stockpile of my most commonly used ingredients so it’s easy to make a meal without having to drive to town  for something I don’t have.  Every time I consider buying something, I debate to myself where it has come from and how far/at what “real cost” is it to get it to me.  I will NOT buy grapes from Chile or oranges from South Africa – I always read where produce comes from as it changes frequently.  We do eat meat several times a week so I’ve found a local supply of pasture-grazed beef.  I’ve also secured a supplier of “free range” local chicken eggs.  I try to have several hundred pounds of potatoes, 40 lbs of onions, 15-20 winter squash, and as many apples and carrots as my garden allows/or local, in my cold room in the fall.

Many years ago, I was intrigued about ‘the root cellar’ (I can still smell that sweet root cellar of my grandparents, in my mind) and came across a book by Nancy Bubel entitiled “Root Cellaring”  I bought a copy and we built a “cold room” under our mudroom.  But I have another “cold spot”, by default, just inside the front mudroom door where it’s usually just above freezing – so I’ve added shelves and bushel baskets (garage sale = 50 cents) for food storage. 

Cooking in my cookstove oven usually takes longer so again I plan ahead and get supper in around 1-2 pm or so.  Of course, stovetop foods can simmer all day while my cookstove heats the house.  In the summer I have a “rule” that if it’s hot outside, I don’t cook inside and heat up the house.  We use the BBQ or wood-fired chimnea to cook everything that requires cooking.

One of my favourite “desserts” is zucchini-carrot bread and banana bread.  I try to make these often at this time of year, freezing the extra loaves.  They are from the Whole Foods for the Whole Family Cookbook^title005#title005 -one of my recipes was selected for inclusion in this cookbook over 30 years ago, I am proud to say.

I can’t talk about food without mentioning “Sunday dinners”:  every Sunday, the family gathers to enjoy the day together and dinner.  Without fail, usually, all my children who live within 100 kms come back home on Sundays-we may have a “Wii-nament” with Wii bowling that even the youngest can do or just sit around talking or reading until supper while the grandkids play with each other.  These days, we’ve had to add the card-table to the end of the 2-leaf dining room table to accomodate the usual dozen or so family members at suppertime.

All this talk about food has made me hungry!

Christmas dinner

P.S.  Happy 20th Birthday to my daughter Nellie!


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maureen Sinclair
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 14:09:03

    That was nicely done Linda. You can’t take those memories away from us. It is always great to talk about old times, We sure have alot of them.The good old days,Good times at Our Grandmother’s farm.& always look forward to seeing you guys in the summer.We were brought up on the land & it didn’t hurt us one bit.I enjoyed it so much.I love food as well, & do alot of cooking from scratch as well.
    Happy eating cousin dear. Love ya: Maureen


  2. Rod
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 14:30:04

    Happy Birthday Nellie…

    You make me miss home! LOL


  3. Fred Schueler
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 14:31:09

    you remind me to go upstairs and see if the recent cold snap got to the Squash stored there. Remind us to give you seeds for the macro-butternuts variety we’ve been growing for the past three years – it out-produces any other variety of winter Squash we’ve grown here, and the fruit are a metre long, so for many meals you just whack off a length of neck and cook it without worrying about removing seeds.


  4. Iona
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 20:07:06

    It warms my soul to read this… Love these blogs sis… keep ’em coming!!… xo


  5. Sis
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 20:07:08

    Great story Linda, thats why I love coming to your place and feeling right at home and having great meals, It is so comforting and cosy at your place. I just love you so much, just because you and Bets are my best friends. I couldn’t image my life with out you all in it. Love Faye


  6. grammomsblog
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 20:16:55

    Sistas: BFFs !! As you already know, my place is your place….I love it when you come! We eat and laugh and eat some more ! lol


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