Pioneer times were tough, and we would never suggest life without modern plumbing, refrigeration, or electricity! But with the fast pace of modern life, some folks have decided to learn skills from bygone eras. This includes purchasing local products made closer to home with more care and quality materials, unhooking from technology, and embracing homesteading. In our Pioneer Life in the 21st Century series, we’ll help you embrace a few pioneer-like actions, create mindful moments, and perhaps save a few bucks, whether you live in an apartment in the city or a planned community in the suburbs.
In the pioneer days of yesteryear, not one thing was wasted!
Old clothing was turned into quilts, and broken down, irreparable bits of furniture and the branches and limbs of trees cut or fallen down were kept for kindling for the fireplace on a cold night. Every morsel of food, especially, was treated as a precious commodity.
When we consider the consumer culture we live in today, it really does seem a bit wasteful. But turning back to the pioneer spirit, we show you how you can gain more mileage out of your food, and turn what may have ended up in your compost or in a landfill into additions to your current recipes.
If you’re often using lemons to squeeze for fresh lemonade, to add to your smoothies, or to make fresh summer salad dressings, consider first zesting the outside of the lemon before juicing.
Gently zest the outer layer of the lemon, and store in an air tight jar if you’re not planning to use it right away. If you’ve never ‘zested’ before, be sure to avoid the astringent white skin!
The zest tastes great added to a marinade on chicken or fish, and is also an excellent addition to a vanilla cake mix, giving it a fresh and zippy lemony taste. You can also add the lemon zest into your frosting for an extra tart topping on your cupcakes or cake.
It’s also delicious on top of pasta dishes where you’re using a simple olive oil, parsley and parmesan topping, or fill an ice cube tray with water and lemon zest for refreshing cubes of lemon ice in your water.
If you’re a daily juicer, then you’re likely amassing pounds of fresh, organic food scraps. Don’t toss them just yet!
When juicing the items we mention below, consider juicing them one at a time to separate each vegetable and fruit from each other, so you can actually use them.
If you juice greens such as spinach, parsley or kale, take the scraps and use them to make a cheese and greens quiche. The green pulp will cook down even more in the quiche mix, and stems that failed to break down in the juicer will wilt in the baking process.
Carrot pulp can be added to bran muffins or to make carrot spice muffins. You an also use it to make carrot cake, of course!
Bone broth is all the rage right now, but our ancestors knew of it’s beneficial health qualities decades before drive through windows in hip parts of the country began serving it in 8 ounce cups.
Rich in minerals and loaded with a healing fusion of collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline, bone broth is said to support the immune system, and heal your gut lining. It also aids in reducing intestinal inflammation.
Using the bones from high quality meat is ideal. Think of grass fed beef, free range chickens, or locally raised lambs.
To make bone broth, start with a pot of purified water and your bones. It’s ok if there is still a bit of meat on them. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help extract the goodness from the bones, a few carrots, a stalk or two of celery, and a pinch of sea salt.
Allow your bones to simmer for as long as possible. If you are making it in a crock pot, then leaving it in there on warm for up to 48 hours is acceptable.
Use the bone broth as a drink on a cold afternoon, as the base in sauces and gravies, or as your liquid when making rice. You can also of course use it as your soup base! Bone broth can be frozen and used at a later date, too.
We applaud you if your stale loaves of Bread are making their way into the diets of your local ducks at the nearby pond! But we have a solution for that stale bread that most likely did come from the pioneer days.
Use it to make bread and butter pudding! This is a moist, dense pudding cake that starts with stale bread. It is divine served alone, or even better with a hot custard.
Bread and Butter Pudding
Butter your slices of stale bread, and line into a casserole dish.
Mix 2 1/2 cups of milk, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon into a bowl.
Pour on top of bread and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
Dash a bit of nutmeg on top, too. It is also tradition to sprinkle the pudding with a 1/2 cup of raisins or chopped dried apricots.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 35-45 minutes.