Here we go!
I am currently in the middle of another Homesteaders Food Challenge. This is a personal challenge to eat only foods from my own hands. More on the challenge & all the details here.
I have three weeks just about licked & no major bumps so far.
This time around has been dramatically different than my first time.
4 differences I’ve noticed the second time around
ONE: 7 Weeks is fast.
For starters, I’m only doing 50 days (instead of 101). That in itself is a piece of cake. 7 weeks is NOTHING when you have done 101.
Secondly, I have the wisdom of experience with me this time. Instead of searching for food and wondering how on earth to make a cracker, I am cooking and enjoying the fabulous real food recipes I have come to love. This second round has been a season of refining, tweaking and enjoying many of the skills I first learned last summer (like making crackers, pasta & tortillas).
I have tricks, recipes and snacks in my arsenal and I’ve stocked up the homestead for the real food festival. This time it’s like a holiday.
TWO: Weight loss.
My first stint at this challenge reduced my weight a little over 10 pounds. That was last summer. Losing over 10 pounds teleported me back to my college weight/ my before marriage weight / my before birthing 4 children weight. It was a good place to be. A very good place.
When the challenge ended I am happy to report I did not gain it all back immediately.
I actually didn’t gain any of it back until Thanksgiving – this is when I fell off the wagon.
Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year presented all sorts of temptations that no sane person can deny themselves. So, I sorrowfully found 4 of the 10 pounds that I happily lost last summer. I blame Santa, Baby New Year and chocolate for it.
4 pounds is not much, but I’ll be happy to see it gone again.
I am currently at the end of my 3rd week doing this and I’ve lost 2 pounds. This isn’t much weight but the fact that I’m losing weight at all is stunning. I eat continually and consume frightening amounts of meat, fat, bread and butter. On butter churning days I eat the stuff by the spoonful.
I spent the first 2 weeks the last time trying to figure out what to eat. Which is hilarious to me now. It was summer, I had a huge garden & there was so much to eat.
It’s winter this time around and there isn’t a garden to feed us. Still, I am cruising through the challenge without wondering what to eat. It’s much easier now. I have some simple staples that I keep stocked so I don’t ever get into a hungry pickle where I find myself holding a quart of green beans and a fork.
We are eating the bounty from summer and I am so thankful for all the days I spent canning. The little jars of food are simply a miracle. It’s like opening a can of summer each day.
By far, not being prepared, is the biggest stumbling block to my success on this challenge. Likewise, when I am prepared, it’s easy to prosper.
When I have a refrigerator and freezer filled with foods we can eat – it is soooooo easy.
When the fridge and pantry is bare, this is panic time. My children don’t know how to turn a can of tomatoes into lunch – at least most of them don’t. Which is OK – I am head chef around here & I know 16 ways to use a can of tomatoes!
I have spent a lot of time baking, cooking and frying just to have food in our home ready to eat. It is time well spent and, if planned right, doesn’t have to consume your life. This is triumph.
This round has been smooth sailing and I haven’t even taken a lunchbox of food to a restaurant (yet). I’m sure it’s going to happen, I just haven’t been to a restaurant in a couple weeks.
If you’re curious what’s been on the plates around here…. Here’s a glimpse:
I have several of these recipes in the works, so stay tuned if you like anything you see.
Tortillas: One of my family’s favorite meals is homemade chicken tortillas. The ingredients are so simple that it’s hard to believe the flavor is so deep. I have mastered the art of flour tortillas and no longer complain when I make them.
Turnips: Turnip soup was a horrible day.
Deer Leg: I oven roasted a Leg of Venison last week and we ate on that baby for days. Day 1 as a roast, day 2 as sandwiches and day 3 as a venison vegetable soup.
Sweet Potatoes: As a food group, I hate sweet potatoes. They are just too sweet and they taste like baby food. I don’t like them baked, mashed, in casseroles or covered in marshmallows. That being said, I am a purist, so I eat them even though I don’t like them. I believe in eating foods because they are good for me & if I happen to like the way they taste, it’s a bonus. So, yes, I eat sweet potatoes and turnips even though they are disgusting. I have found 2 enjoyable ways to eat sweet potatoes: as fries or juiced. Sweet potato fries are delightful. I turned 6 giant sweet potatoes into fries one night & didn’t stop eating until there was nothing left to eat. My second favorite way to ingest a sweet potato is liquify it with my masticating juicer. Sweet potato juice is marvelous. Especially if you toss in an apple and some cranberries. Really good.
Handmade Pasta: I’ve learned that if you are going to make pasta, lasagna is the way to go. Giant flat noodles – this is zero work. Just roll the pasta out thin & start layering it into your casserole. Homemade pasta tastes so much better than the store bought stuff it’s absurd.
Artisan Bread: Just take a minute and digest the picture of that dutch oven crusty bread. If you think it looks good – you should taste it. It has 3 ingredients and defies the laws of food. No kneading, perfect crispy crust – this stuff is preposterous.
Empanadas: I have no idea how to spell empanada. Empanadas are a time-consuming pain in the neck, but if you make 400 of them and freeze them they will make your life better for 2 months. I still have 4 zip top bags filled with them in the freezer that I am hoarding. Deliciousness.
Pork Cutlets: If you like round steak you will die when you eat pork cutlets. The night we had fried pork cutlets was dreamy. My pork (berkshire – I raised them) is so tender and marbled it’s not even like pork. You could cut them with a fork. No knives necessary. A side of turnip greens & apple scones made this dinner memorable. Yum.
Other stuff: We are also eating canned peaches, canned green beans, frozen corn, frozen berries, frozen peas and a couple dozen other things I have “put up” from last year’s harvest. I have a drawer in my outside refrigerator filled with turnips. Why won’t they rot? It’s like the turnips are destined to torture me indefinitely. I just can’t bring myself to throw them to the chickens. I’d rather cook them, swallow them and complain about it.
I do miss fresh veggies, but the frozen and canned versions are working out just fine.
We are filling many of the gaps on the dinner plates with baked goods this time around. Instead of cucumber salads, marinated tomatoes, fresh peppers and sugar snap peas we are eating: apple scones, blackberry muffins, crusty breads and fresh rolls. Which you will not hear me complain about…. ever.