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What I Have Learned from Clara

Last post 06-16-2010 12:11 AM by sissy. 17 replies.
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  • 06-07-2010 8:40 AM

    • Brandy
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    What I Have Learned from Clara

     I have been reading Clara's Kitchen and enjoying every word. She not only shares recipes but talks about how they did things to make it through the depression. So far I have tried three of her recipes and have enjoyed each one.

    The green bean recipe taught me how to make those elegant and crisp beans that rest in fancy dishes in magazines and on websites. The baked apples added a a healthy dessert to my list of options. It was the last one I tried that really enlightened me.

    I have been approaching the balance of healthy and affordable all wrong!

    Like many others, I feel that growing food is an excellent plan. I know what goes into them and I can control expense by the choices I make. However, I get overwhelmed by trying to get it done, especially when I begin to think of how I will manage "the big stuff" like potatoes, lettuce and other things we rely greatly on for meals.

    Clara's dish was a simple one of potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes cooked on the stove top in a couple of tablespoons of oil. Naturally potatoes are the main portion and the cheap filler side dish so I really should grow potatoes to lower our food expense and have a natural food, right?

    Wrong.

    As I was cutting everything up and putting them in the pan, I realised I had a lot of carrot, onion and celery in there. Hey, those would be easier to grow and maintain. Why not grow what I thought of as the small things and use them as stretchers for the foods I am not ready to try growing like potatoes. The price I pay weekly for tomatoes alone covers a small bag of potatoes. 

    I took the idea a step farther in contemplation. My husband won't eat most cooked vegetables but he loves salad. I make salad with lettuce as the main ingredient. Lettuce is one of the most expensive ingredient and least filling. Why not change proportion there too and toss in more tomato and some carrots too. This would become cheaper if I am growing those tomatoes and carrots. 

    Perhaps Clara didn't intend this lesson on changing the balance of foods and the direction I was planning gardening but it's one I thank her for. I also thank all of you who have been discussing food with me and laying the groundwork for me to consider different approaches to meals.

     

     

     

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 06-07-2010 10:54 AM In reply to

    • Pat
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Some interesting thoughts, Brandy! The idea of growing what you can and using it to stretch the more expensive ingredients makes a lot of sense.

    Are you growing lettuce? If it gets too hot there to grow it year  'round, you can grow it indoors.

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  • 06-07-2010 11:27 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Pat:
    Are you growing lettuce?
     

    No. That is one of the things I have stressed about feeling I needed to grow to really be able to save by producing our own foods. 

    I do have onions, tomatoes and parsley plants growing along with blackberry bushes. I use snips of onion tops instead of green onions for seasonings.

     I felt I wasn't really doing that much by way of food production when I looked at what I planted this year. It does seem a larger effort when I consider how I can use more of these foods but less of other things I buy. I think carrots and celery would be easy enough to add in when compared to lettuce for better success with this. 


     

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 06-07-2010 11:49 AM In reply to

    • Pat
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    If you have room for carrots, they're not hard to grow. Celery is a little harder, but it may grow better there than here.

    I work on the opposite thought: I try to grow the things that cost more and then buy the cheap things. Carrots are cheap here, as are potatoes (comparatively, anyway).  That may not work as well for you, though.

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  • 06-07-2010 12:06 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

     

    Pat:
    they're not hard to grow

    That's what it was looking like to me. I have been avoiding ground planting but maybe if I just focused on thing, it wouldn't be overwhelming. I experimented with potatoes in a box last year. It didn't do well but there were some issues like even professional crops dying off in my area.

     

    Pat:
    I try to grow the things that cost more and then buy the cheap things.
     

    That does make sense but I have been finding that the easy to grow things I can handle are often the cheap stuff. But then that is probably why it's cheaper. 

    I do hope to grow some of the harder items but your posts and the links about gradual gardening and the $1 gardening helped me to keep my plans simple and achievable this year. I hope this will mean success.

    Until my plants start bearing some real edibles and I have enough of them going, I am still reliant on shopping. However, as you said, some of these things are the cheap foods at the store. Regardless, it is in the favor of my budget to maximise the cheaper food use. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 06-07-2010 12:25 PM In reply to

    • Pat
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    • Joined on 03-06-2007
    • Colorado
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Brandy:
    Until my plants start bearing some real edibles and I have enough of them going, I am still reliant on shopping. However, as you said, some of these things are the cheap foods at the store. Regardless, it is in the favor of my budget to maximise the cheaper food use.
    That makes sense. Any time you grow food, either cheap or expensive, (unless you do it the unfrugal way!) you'll save money. Whichever tactic you use will be worth the effort.

     

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  • 06-07-2010 12:45 PM In reply to

    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Brandy , do people plant late summer or early fall crops there? I  know here, we can plant lettuce,different greens in aug for a fall crop. I think that my Dad planted collards and a few other things for fall crops in  NC. Carrpts and peas cool weather too. Babs

    Officially recognized Stretchpert in Prayer Circle
  • 06-07-2010 1:01 PM In reply to

    • Brandy
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    • Joined on 03-28-2007
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    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

     

    babs:
    do people plant late summer or early fall crops there

    We have short winters so I am sure some do.

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • 06-14-2010 10:10 AM In reply to

    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Brandy,

    You can grow cut and come again lettuces more easily than types like romaine or iceberg, where it's one big head and done. Yes it can bolt, so it'd be too warm for you to grow some now, but when cooler weather comes, you can grow these pretty easily.

    I like using mesclun, and this year have a lettuce mesculn mix and a spicy greens mix. The spicy greens bolt faster, but do add a tasty zing.

     If you have lambs quarter growing as a weed, you can also use that in salads. Better when the leaves are younger. Pigweed or purslane is also a weed that's edible and tastes yummy in salads, too.

     

    megan

  • 06-14-2010 1:25 PM In reply to

    Re: What I Have Learned from Clara

    Back in what I refer to as my "poverty stricken" days, I knew I wanted to garden, but also knew I was unprepared to really raise our food. I added herb plants to the tomatoes and peppers. One seed packet or one 4" pot was an affordable risk for me. I learned so much and felt rich every time I used fresh herbs to season my family's food. I also learned a lot about using herbs. Still not growing the majority of our food, but coming closer each season. AM
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