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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Compost Stew

kitchen scraps in compost barrel
Once upon a time, back in the day, I spent my weekends with seriously alternative off the grid living kind of folks. If it was yellow, we let it mellow; if brown, flushed it down. All the TP went into a paper bag because it was too hard on the septic system (lagoon or city sewer). The cool shower dripped at a trickle and was timed to three minutes. Bundle up. What heat? Being a self-made pioneer girl who once picked green plants and boiled them for dinner I was not fazed. I had lived with wood heat in the country and when we neglected (or were too poor) to buy fuel (from trees) we were left to burn whatever we could find. There was an abandoned shed on the property and desperation required its breakdown and consumption. I placed huge stones on the wood stove (and smaller ones inside) to gather heat for the bed and car. Those were the days. I was thankful to move into town where I could heat my home at the touch of a dial.

After those experience and many more, you would think I was open to just about anything. And I was, until… Sitting at lunch with my crunchy granola comrades, our attention was called to settle a dispute. We had a visiting social renegade from a commune up north who proposed we have compost stew for dinner. There were audible groans and sounds of distaste. I sat quietly thinking there would have to be something prepared fresh to accompany this entrée. We were big on whole grain breads and fresh ground nuts. As a veteran survivor of foods I refused to eat as a child, I would easily make it through this one meal. There were always fresh fruits, teas and nuts for later. 

Something in there look appetizing?
We had a self appointed leader in this supposed equal congregation. She said no. He asked for a discussion and explained that where he came from nothing was wasted.  Someone explained that kitchen scraps are not wasted. They are composted. At this point, he reached under the table, lifted the kitchen compost bucket and began to dig through it. He pointed out bits of discarded produce that could be washed and the mold, rot, and discoloration cut away. The visual did not help his cause. 

As with every hippy dippy groovy nut group I have belonged to, there are always those who side with the most insane and ridiculous of concepts and ideas. He had his following as well. Sometimes I think it was because he was from that commune up north. He was bearded and barefoot, scraggly in form and dress; generally unkept in that way that says wild, grizzly. Women/girls running from money dig that sort. So, off they went to prepare their dinner.

At that point, I am thinking, “Note to self: Nut butters from a jar; bread from a package. Hide good food for later. Many days left here.” I passed on casseroles, stews, soups, and salads. If I didn’t crack it or peel it, I was not eating it.

It is popular to write and talk about being frugal, but there was a time when people were living it on a whole other level. I will share about saving money and how I manage, but as I have already traveled out to the edge, I am content to enjoy the warmth of my home, fresh food on my table, good wine and beer.

Here’s what I did save, though. I have fresh greens in the winter. Organic and free!

Fresh turnip tops

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