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Some of you know I lived on a farm for over two years. But you might not know those were years of extreme poverty.

The 130-something acre farm was about five miles from the nearest gas station and fifteen miles from anything that might be considered a city. My closest neighbors were Amish, except for the survivalist who lived one farm over. The landowners lived in the main house, but weren't there all the time. Dev and I lived in 900-square foot refurbished Amish house. We had electricity, indoor plumbing, and heating... but the heating was propane, and the insulation was poor, so winters were quite chilly.

Anyway.

We were cash poor. Really poor. But I ran the farm's CSA program, and had unlimited access to whatever the farm produced. I learned to cook country meals--hearty, with limited ingredients--and how to preserve the bounty at harvest time. One year, I and the landowner put up 80 quarts of tomatoes (of which I got half), and I personally froze about 20 pounds of broccoli, 20 of cauliflower, and 10 quarts of pear butter. Other food items were traded for meat, eggs, and dairy. I learned how to harvest and process black walnuts (total pain in the ass!), hazelnuts, and various seasonal wild greens. In other words, I learned to live on what the land gave me.

But that's not my point!

My point is, tonight I was reminded of the quick, easy, and cheap recipes I used to not only keep Dev and I fed, but to keep us happy with what we were eating. Fried apples and/or pears, skillet cabbage and sausage, blackberry syrup, elderberries, fried green tomatoes, squash and okra, venison chili (yes, I grew and dried my own beans), so on and so forth. I could get four meals for Dev and I out of a five-dollar chicken, including boiling everything down for chicken vegetable soup.

So the easiest and cheapest, and most decadent treat, is the fried apples. Cut the apples into hearty chunks (the bigger the chunks, the more firm the outcome), and toss them in a skillet with butter. If you like the sweet syrup, add some brown sugar, a slash of vanilla, and a splash of water, then cook it down. That'll give you something akin to apple pie filling. You can eat them on their own, or atop homemade ice cream (I can give you a recipe you can make in plastic baggies!), or as a side dish for dinner, or an addition to breakfast.

With all the talk these days about tight budgets and rising prices, I just thought I'd pass along a way to give ourselves a nice treat. :)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
marycatelli
Oct. 16th, 2013 01:26 am (UTC)
I think my mother made those sometimes.
blairmacg
Oct. 16th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
I love making them. Sometimes I'll sprinkle cinnamon on it, too.
sartorias
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
My mom calls that apple brown betty.
blairmacg
Oct. 16th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yep, it's very similar!
thanate
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:32 pm (UTC)
What do you do with elderberries?
blairmacg
Oct. 16th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
I used them, and mulberries, mostly like any other berry. They're not as sweet, but still tasty. But I also made an elderberry and honey syrup for cold/flu season.

http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2082006#hn-2082006-uses
elenbarathi
Oct. 17th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks! This is exactly the recipe I need right now - we've got an apple tree and a pear tree, and they've both got lots of ripe fruit now, but it's far from 'perfect' fruit; needs the bad spots cut out. I can cook the fruit down and then freeze it in single-serving containers to microwave this winter and pour over ice cream. Awesome!!
blairmacg
Oct. 17th, 2013 12:20 pm (UTC)
Perfect!

If you have an overabundance, there's always pear and/or apple butter, too. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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