Saturday, 14 August 2010

Bean soup happiness

It's been a busy few days.
Yesterday was the first day that "felt" like spring...  not that it was warm or anything,  but it was ok in the sun and out of the wind.  The wind was blowing from the north and felt different from the recent stormy low pressure fronts that have come through.  I did a lot of weeding,  and planted a lot of potatoes... not enough for the year yet,  but quite a few.  At the rate that my plants have produced in the past,  I should get about 80kg of potatoes. This is the easiest cabohydrate to produce, and it is possible to get enough from small area... compared with grain or greens.

This little pile of leeks is pretty special.
These are all leeks that grew vegetatively from a single one that broke off in the ground when I pulled it out last year.  I have used a few from here previously and there are a few more there still.  Free food?  No effort.  A bonus.

And here are today's vegetables to go into a bean soup...   Chinese broccoli (because I had to pick it,  it is producing heaps)  potatoes, swedes, leeks and cabbage.
The beans are the cheapest that I can get... pinto beans and I put them on the stove (with a handful of bacon bones) when dinner was cooking last night.  They stayed there all night, as the stove slowly cooled (another bonus of a wood stove) so that by this morning the beans were cooked and sitting in a beautiful stock of bacon and onion...  they just need some chilli spice.
I'll be putting it all together during the afternoon and when the oven is hot (wood stoves enable the oven to be heated at any time while the stove is hot... for no extra fuel)  I'll make some scones to go with it.  And that will be dinner tonight.
This is another one of those meals that give great satisfaction to prepare...  to grow the ingredients, collect them just before cooking and preparing a meal.  This is so different from finding a recipe, making a shopping list and gathering items from the supermarket shelves,  unsure of how old they might be.

I read an interesting article by Dmitry Orlov recently.  It is all about living happily with little money.  It is written about the United States (with which I am familiar, having lived there for several years in the 1980's-90's)  but many of the ideas have application here as well.
"The Russian author Eduard Limonov wrote of his experiences with poverty in America. To his joy, he discovered that he could supplement his cash earnings with public assistance. But he also quickly discovered that he had to keep this joy well hidden when showing up to collect his free money. It is a curious fact that in America public assistance is only made available to the miserable and the downtrodden, not to those who are in need of some free money but are otherwise perfectly content. Although it is just as possible to be poor and happy in America as anywhere else, here one must make a choice: to avoid any number of unpleasant situations, one must be careful to hide either the fact that one is poor, or the fact that one is happy. If free public money is to be obtained, then only the latter choice remains."  (Orlov)
Orlov's thesis is that it is no crime to be poor, and there is no reason to be wretched over it.  In fact there can be some satisfaction in learning the skills that are needed to manage on a minimal income.  He suggests that it is a matter of adaptation and culture....  and this idea was included at a conference held in Washington DC... "The New Reality: Preparing Poor America for Harder Times Ahead"  where one of the topics was apparently "culture" that Orlov called a "strange little topic" on the agenda.
"But then what about that strange little topic showing up at the very bottom of the list—culture? We'd expect the poor to be uncultivated, unlettered and uncouth, but beyond that, shouldn't we expect a culture of poverty to evolve, as an adaptation to being poor? To an anthropologist, culture is an adaptive mechanism that evolves in order to enable humans to survive and thrive in a wide variety of environments. To others, it may be a matter of dancing a jig or of strumming an instrument while crooning. To me, culture is, first and foremost, a matter of literature" (Orlov)  and hence his quotation from the Russian author above.
Perhaps this preparation of meals from watever is in the yard is one of those skills and the satisfaction of preparing the meal is one of the little pleasures that people don't often enjoy these days.  Next time I receive my Centrelink pension payment,  I won't smile :-)

And here is the soup....


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your writing on getting by with little money. It is ironic that one should have to appear miserable if one is poor, when it is the wealthy people who have the highest rates of depression.
In the words of Notorious B I G "more money more problems".
love From nick to you jane:)

Jane said...

I thought it was an interesting thought too.... though apparently one is supposed to look sad and miserable when accepting a "free handout".