Unlike in previous years, I haven’t been celebrating by going out and stocking up on dry goods and not-so-dry goods from the grocery store just yet. Why? Because we still have tonnes of food. As such, I’m trying to hold off on the restock until I’m ready to do the Big Shop wherein I also buy half a dozen bags of soil from the grocery store garden centre (I’ll be getting thingd delivered anyway, so why not get a LOT of groceries at the same time?)
As I alluded to in my Week Three post, there wasn’t a whole lot of Eating from the Larder happening during Week Four. I bought popsicles. I bought a burito. My wife and one of her other partners and I went out for pizza and gelato because it was sunny out. I also used on-hand root veggies, the last of the winter squash (which I bought in October, y’all – Butternuts are AMAZING keepers), a variety of frozen veggies, a few tins of beans, a little dried fruit, and some home-jarred tomato products to make dinners on other evenings. Stew featuring a mix of meat and legumes + a mix of veggies and occasional fruits (and anything I can add to impart a smokey flavour – NOM!) will continue to be a Thing in our household. I used left-over pork ragu mixed with leftover burrito filling and some extra pre-cooked black beans + rice to make a super-fast, marvelously tasty stew last night (technically May, I realize).
One thing I’ve noticed (or haven’t noticed) this year is that, unlike last year, there’s not a significant rise in bank savings over the course of the month. Part of that is that I’ve been temping for three months (and covering 100% of the rent for a significant portion of that – though not for May) so the money levels are different from what I’m used to looking at. The other reason, though, is that we’ve been eating from the larder, in a fairly significant way (though not as big a way as during April) for most of the past year. Either getting the majority of our veggies from the garden (the rhubarb and Vietnamese garlic are up alrady, fyi, with the strawberries and sage coming along on their heels) during Summer and autumn, or else using home-jarred and home-frozen stuff over the winter. Our meat (aka: Francis the Pig) arrived, for the most part, a year ago and, even though I’ve also bought turkey, beef, duck, fish, and chicken occasionally through the past year, our groceries were paid for “up-front” in a way that they never had been before. Given how tight our budget has been since last Summer, when my lovely wife started up the Ottawa Leather Works and stopped (for the most part) working outside of her own business, I have to say a big Halleluiah for that one, since I know our usual grocery bill, pre-garden, would have been around $200/month and, instead, we’ve been able to put that towards heating bills and similar.
Take-aways from this year’s Challenge:
1) Praise the garden (and the forethought that goes into all that canning)!
2) Variety remains the spice of life
3) Make more salsa
4) Baking bread in triple-batches and freezing 2/3 might be a good practice to get into. A lot of the bread went moldy (this is a common problem), and I’d like to avoid that happening in future, but also it’s a big help to have pre-made bread on hand when you run out and (a) the kitchen is a filthy mess with no counter-space, and/or (b) you are sick and trying to avoid spending effort on anything but getting well again.
5) Ditto for freezing stuff like waffles, pancakes, muffins, savoury scones, and other snacky baked goods.
6) We are still eating about a pound of cooking cheddar per week. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
So there you have it. The Eat from the Larder Challenge is over for 2016. Sit tight, as the garden-garden-garden posts will be starting up in short order.
Meliad the Birch Maide
 Strictly speaking, I make limitted amounts of this due to there being someone in the family with allergies to peppers and pepper-derived spices, BUT said person lives in Toronto at this point, and so isn’t around as often as she used to be. Next summer, I will (probably) make more tomato-peach salsa and (slightly) fewer jars of herb-infused crushed tomatoes (plain crushed tomatoes, on the other hand, remain a major staple).
 I love waffles, but our waffle-iron has a teflon coating, and that will kill our little birds very quickly if it gets too hot. I would really like to replace our waffle iron with one that has real, cast-iron plates. (Or, y’know, just replace the plates on the one we’ve already got. That would be even better!)
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