I have some encouraging news for those of you who are lamenting the escalating food prices. That's about all of us isn't it? Well, take heart, I just read the prices from a grocery ad in Alaska and was really jarred. The rural areas where the wages are the lowest are the hardest hit. Milk is $9.89 a gallon, eggs $4.60 a dozen, a loaf of bread is $6, and a pound of strawberries is $10, Lunchmeat is $14 a pound.
So, for about $44 you can have a simple lunch! Ouch!
In these rural villages 40 percent of the annual wage goes for home heating costs. While we take no pleasure in their misery it helps us realize that things could be a lot worse. They expect to pay $7 a gallon for gas this winter.
On a happier note, hasn't this been a glorious summer? So far I've only had the air conditioner on once and that was back in April. It's been like a UP summer with cool nights in August. The gardens have slowly arrived at their peak, with the rush of canning and freezing. I need to can my peaches and tomatoes for winter, that's two things that are worth the price and labor. So far I've only done beans and asparagus. I did pick and freeze some Saskatoon berries for the Thanksgiving pies. Last year we had gooseberries and blackberries from Leslie Putney's berry farm here in Benzonia. Check it out.
I told you in my last column that I was planning a visit with some folks from my old home town in Arkansas. I had a great time with this wonderful couple and our visit barely scratched the surface! It was like a trip back to my childhood home. The lifestyle there during the Great Depression was different than living farther north. The south had been depressed long before the big depression hit, so it came as almost the fatal blow for many. People did actually die as a result and many survivors still bear the emotional scars.
Since we were kids and all in the same boat, it was much easier for us than the parents who carried the awesome responsibility of providing for a family. My new friends let me borrow a book he had written about his childhood there. I wish it was in print so you could get a copy. It is wonderfully written and a great read. People bartered, borrowed and befriended each other to survive. Home remedies were the only health care we had.
Of course, I was interested in the food, which consisted of the crops and livestock you could raise yourself, and drought often wiped out both. There was also fish and wild game. Tree fruits, berries wild grapes and nuts were abundant. If you had a job you could "run a bill" (charge) your groceries from one payday till the next. (The forerunner of the credit card?) The problem here was your money was spent before you got it! Sounds familiar.
A usual meal was cornbread and beans, with coleslaw hopefully, and sometimes potatoes.
If you were lucky enough to have a cow, you had wonderful fresh milk and butter. Little did we know then that cornbread and beans made a complete protein, and cabbage was a powerhouse of life-giving nutrients. Actually, the meal was healthier than many expensive meals we enjoy today with all the carbs and saturated fats. Looking back can be good, it helps us be better stewards of what we have and more generous to those who are in need. Life is always a balancing act.
Speaking of this wonderful cabbage, I hope you have an abundance of fat juicy heads waiting in your garden so you can try this refrigerator coleslaw. It stays tangy and crisp for days and is great with a sandwich or a meal.
2 qts shredded cabbage
1 c. thinly sliced celery
2 chopped green peppers
1 chopped red pepper
1 lg. onion chopped
1 pint cider vinegar
2 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. tumeric
1/2 t. powdered alum
1 t. celery seeds
1 T. mustard seeds
Clean, chop and mix all vegetables together, drain well.
Mix vinegar, sugar and spices together and bring to a boil. Pour over vegetables while hot. Stir and put it in a large glass jar. Cap and cool and refrigerate. Can be eaten after 12 hours and will keep up to two weeks refrigerated. Make about 20 servings.
This is so old it's new and making the rounds again. It's a delicious salad you can use most anything you have in, and make it in 10 minutes.
We just had it at a potluck and I'd forgotten how good it is. It can be used for a dessert, too.
My friend Paula sent me her recipe, she calls it Idiot's Salad, I Googled it and sure enough, there it was!
Paula's Hawaiian Salad
1 16oz. container small curd cottage cheese
1 small box Island Pineapple Jell-O
1 sm. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 sm. can crushed pineapple, drained
8 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed
Flaked or shredded coconut, as much as you like
Put cottage cheese and dry Jell-O in your food proccessor bowl or use electric mixer and mix to whatever smoothness you desire (some folks don't like lumps!) add mandarin oranges and mix slightly. In a large bowl fold this into the Cool Whip, crushed pineapple and coconut. Chill till serving time. Serves 8
Parting Shot: We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children -- Native American proverb
Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached via the Record-Eagle at 120 W. Front, Traverse City, Mi 49685; or by sending e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org