13 September 2008

The Warm Smell of Frugality


I so wish there were a way to scratch and sniff your computer screen so that I could share the smells of yummy goodness wafting through our main floor right now. A weekend ago (or so), I acquired some fruit from a friend's family's orchard (thanks again!). We picked peaches, pears, and apples that were a little north of perfectly ripe. This morning, my sous chef (which is what my mother likes to refer to herself as) and I went to work putting up fruit. Oh. My. Goodness. Is there really any commercial air freshener better than cooking fruit in your house? Amazingly good smells are coming from my kitchen right now, unreplecatable by chemicals for sure, and FREE!

So, what to do with an IKEA bag (huge recycled boat tarp grocery bags) full of not quite ripe apples? Applesauce, of course! We peeled, cored, and cubed 25 cups of apples. I added some cinnamon, vanilla, a little sugar to take the edge off the tart and a dash of salt to enhance the sweetness, and put the caldera on to simmer. It wasn't ten minutes before the whole house started smelling like apple-y pie heaven. I just let it cook until I like the consistency it's at.

Then, we peeled, pitted, and thin sliced peaches for the dehydrator. We use all kinds of dried fruits for adding to homemade oatmeal packets, cold cereal, trail mix, or for snacking on straight out of the jar. The dehydrator lives in our mud room off the kitchen because of counter space, but even so the smell of warming peach goodness is travelling all over the main level. You would think you had stumbled into a 100 year old pie bakery if you happened by right now.

Mmmmm. Yum! It smells fabulous in here. Who needs Glade candles when you can permeate the air with yummy goodness for basically free (except the electricity I was going to use anyway)? Best of all, we will wind up with an entire jar of dried peaches and a giant vat of homemade applesauce for free. Add those to the bags of asparagus, bags of green beans, and two jars of dried cherry and pear tomatoes I finished up this morning before the fruit bonanza, and we are well on our way to a local, frugal, organic produce stash that will hopefully hold off our mid-winter urges to buy pineapples that were tracked across the planet.

Do you garden? Do you put up produce for the winter? If not yet, check it out. Buying in season produce from local vendors (which often means it wasn't sprayed with scary gross chemicals) and then storing it creatively for use throughout the scarce months is at the core of our collective homemaking history. Our grandparents did it. Their grandparents did it. Their grandparents likely did too. It's sustainable, responsible, better tasting, healthier, and cheap. What's better, really?



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