This morning my dear husband regaled me with a reading of a short article in The Week, a magazine we subscribe to. It involved the travails of the Clintons, who apparently find it necessary to rent a place for the summer in the Hamptons each year. They got into a dispute with their landlord of last year over their security deposit, which was $20,000, and apparently they weren’t getting it back because it was eaten up by landscaping and utility bills. So, according to the article, the dispute was settled amicably, but this year the Clintons did not rent that place again. Instead they rented a six bedroom place in the area for a measly $200,00 per month.
TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS? For a security deposit? TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS? A MONTH???? Let’s see. Around here, a family of four can live on $20,000 a year. Not high on the hog, but it is doable. I’m not even going to talk about how out of touch with an ordinary American life people who can afford to blow $200,000 per month on a summer rental must be. Are we ready for Hillary? Maybe. But does she have a clue as to what challenges most Americans face? I really don’t know. Does ANY politician?
Okey dokey. I’ll get off my political angst-wagon for now.
I have been visiting slide shows on the SF Chronicle’s website this morning: a Victorian for less than a million dollars, worst kitchen ever, celebrities who dated. That last one was a real eye-opener for me. Probably 80% of the people pictured and named in that little exposé were pretty much unknown to me. I did not recognize names or faces. I’m so out of touch. Kinda like the politicians, I suppose, but in a different way.
Probably the reason I’m so out of touch is that I actually have a life that involves producing a large portion of what we eat.
This was my kitchen counter a few days ago. I was proudly displaying the apples after they had been peeled, cored and sliced; ready for the freezer.
See the tomatoes in the basket next to the apples? They have been roasted and are now in the freezer alongside the apples. That reminds me. I really need to defrost that freezer and rearrange it. There are seven gallons of strawberries, six gallons of blueberries, one lug of peaches, plum pieces and plum puree, and God knows how many freezer bags of greens, green beans, asparagus, roasted winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, roasted tomatoes, and other stuff I have probably forgotten in there. Inventory needs to be done. The other freezer, which is even bigger, has the remains of a whole beef, sundry pork, lamb, poultry and fish, as well as the lard supply and again, God Knows What.
A job for another day.
I’m pretty sure the Clintons don’t have a pantry like this.
That’s the view from the door. Actually, this room is around the corner from the kitchen. Originally, this house was built with the idea that sometime in the future a second story could be added. This area was designed to become the stairwell up to the second floor. The hatch that gives access to the attic is directly above your head when you stand just inside the accordion door that hides this collection from the view from the living room.
Well, that picture simply does not do the room justice, so I stepped inside and did a few close ups. Below you find the left side of the room.
The olives are purchased in bulk, and Jim processes them. There are several flavors there, my favorite is the lemon/tarragon brined sevillanos. Below the olives is the tomato puree collection, and below that is the apple sauce. There is some pear sauce in there too. The red box of milkbones is Ruby’s favorite thing in the whole house.
All those silver bags you see on the right contain the bulk spices. We purchase them from Frontier Natural Foods cooperative. Everything on that shelf is organic, and’ if appropriate, Fair Trade certified too. There is allspice, cinnamon, cloves, caraway, mustard seed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, coriander, cumin on that shelf. No, we aren’t going to run out of spices any time soon. It may seem like a lot, but whole seeds don’t get stale like ground spices; and I can buy a pound of organic cinnamon sticks for less than you will spend for a 2/3 oz bottle of ground cinnamon at your local grocery. The rest of the prices have a similar ratio.
What you are not seeing because I didn’t photograph it is the giant container of 100 pounds of wheat, which I grind about 5 pounds at a time into whole wheat flour. Also, down on the floor is an anonymous box that contains the un-roasted organic fair trade coffee in 5 pound bags that we acquire from Sweet Maria’s.
Now let’s turn our attention to the right side of the room.
The second picture shows the jelly and pickle collection. I honestly don’t think I need to make any jam or jelly for three or four years. That is why I have been freezing most of the figs coming off the tree out by the barn. I still have plenty of fig preserves up there on that shelf. That reminds me, I need to pick figs today.
It is actually a little scary how many different kinds of vinegar we seem to require in this house. Sort of in the middle of the lower picture is a half gallon jar full of some sort of red amorphous substance. That is the raspberry vinegar I am making from the raspberries I managed to get to ahead of the birds. It is about time to filter the raspberries out of the vinegar they are steeping in.
Below that is a bunch of containers that are used to ship olives from Greece to the United States. We found them at a recycler up in Santa Rosa over two decades ago. They are equipped with giant o-rings under the lids, and when screwed down those lids keep the bugs out of the contents. We have unbleached white flour, corn meal, polenta, black beans, garbanzo beans, polenta, pinto beans, rolled oats, sugar, rice, barley, vital wheat gluten in 20-30 pound quantities. Our favorite container: the bright yellow one in the foreground. That has the chocolate chips in it. Right now there are barely ten pounds of them in there. Need to get more. Wouldn’t want to run out of those!
You will notice that not all of our supplies are organic, or totally environmentally conscious. For some reason, we find it necessary to have pineapple on hand. I imagine I could find it from some other source than Dole, but sometimes I just get tired of being so darned perfect.
A long time ago I found a link to a website that would calculate how long you could survive in your home without buying food based on the number of people who live there and the quantity of food you had stored. It told me Jim and I could get along for 3 and a half years on what we have accumulated here. That was before we bought the beef….
I guess we are good for a short apocalypse. This assumes, of course, that we are not immediately struck down by a bolt of lightning for our liberal, tolerant of gay lifestyle, heretical pagan ways.
I’d really better get my pagan ass out there, I need to pick basil for pesto, harvest the chard and get it blanched, and pick the aforementioned figs.