Sunday, April 27, 2014

Calling all 'Modern-Day Pioneers': growing, brewing, baking, preserving, candlemaking, & more!

Yes chickens may be involved—but only if you want them to be!  You can use Charlotte Denholtz's The Modern-Day Pioneer: Simple Living in the 21st Century as a primer, picking and choosing the skills you want to hone as you so desire. Whether you're a fan of Little House on the Prairie or not, there are tips galore for both urban and rural do-it-yourselfers. Here's the breakdown of Denholtz's "pioneering" categories and what they entail.
  • growing your own food using the land you have (including composting, raised beds, using rainwater, and keeping chickens, rabbits, & bees)
  • canning and preserving (including pickling, freezing, drying, and curing meats)
  • recipes using your canned and preserved goods
  • baking bread and brewing beer
  • help for injuries and illness: herbal first aid and curing common ailments with herbs and food
  • soapmaking: equipment, basic recipe, and variations
  • candlemaking: rolled and poured container candles
  • quilting: fabrics, supplies and two starter projects—wall hanging and nine-patch baby quilt
  • sewing: hems, seams, holes, tears, buttonholes, taking in and letting out, and camouflaging repairs or stains.
Re the cured meats section: I knew I loved the delectable creation known as "corned beef" as soon as I sampled it (via the largesse of our Catholic family's Jewish friend, "Uncle Sol"), but had always questioned what the heck corn had to do with it. (Obviously, this was long before the answers to any and all conundrums were available in a flash, via the internet.) According to Denholtz, the "corn" refers to the coarse salt used in curing the beef. I must admit, I'm not appreciably enlightened—but I'm happy to have the recipe, which is reproduced below.
6 lbs beef brisket (flank or steak); 8 cups water; 1 cup Morton Tender Quick Salt; 3 tbsp sugar; 1 tsp ground pepper; 2 tsp mixed pickling spice; 2 bay leaves; 2 cloves garlic, minced. Cover meat with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then let water cool for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients. When liquid is lukewarm, cover with a clean, triple-folded piece of cheesecloth. Weigh down meat to keep submerged in brine. Leave to cool for 36 hours or more.
If you're interested in various aspects of choosing, growing, or preserving healthy, delicious food—and who isn't?—then have a look at the latest Daedalus Books Forum, called "The Simple Life: Ideas to Nourish and Sustain." We've curated books that highlight cooking with fresh ingredients, that inspire going local, that talk about protecting the environment, and that celebrate "homesteading" (growing, making, and preserving your own victuals!).


  1. I was taught to sew clothes from a pattern and knit sweaters on four needles. But today I cannot find the McCalls or Simplicity paper patterns I used to use, and fabric stores are not to be found in the shiny new malls proliferating in this neighborhood like mushrooms after a rain.
    Anyway, time is forever lacking. (I prefer castile soaps to the tallowate kind since I found out that the tallow comes from slaughterhouse carcasses being boiled--ick!)

    1. Gioconda ... I see the old McCalls & Simplicity patterns in thrift stores looking all forlorn. (And quaint.) I wouldn't know what to do w/ them other than an art project! When i tried to sew a skirt in home ec I sewed it together and gave up in despair.

    2. Castile soap forever! Gross, I don't think I realized that non-castile soap might be made from disgusting ingredients and processes such as you describe.

  2. I was able to check out Charlotte Denholtz's The Modern-Day Pioneer: Simple Living in the 21st Century. The bread baking recipes in this book are great, simple and lead to delicious outcomes. Fantastic book on homesteading.

    1. I'm glad to hear that ... it's important to know before you invest your time! I had a girlfriend who used to bake her own bread (whole wheat of course) for economy's sake & it was fantastic.

  3. I find it so neat that years back, mass produced canned goods, manufactured clothes, and so forth, revolutionized the lives of millions. But today, in a world dominated by such, many are trying to go back to a time of making their own products and growing their own food. I wonder if in the future there will be a happy compromise?