Me and the Root Cellar, Prepping with a Parsnip, managing a Pantry


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Or what happens when the store shelves are empty and the trucks don't come in for days. I was going to call it Grumpy Granny Goes into the Root Cellar and goes all Postal with the Parsnips but that might be too much.

Here's the deal, I grew up with grandparents who lived like electricity was just invented yesterday. I figure I might share my thoughts on how to manage when the stores run out of veggies. Because I'm doing that again. I've enjoyed having stores with loads of fresh veggies, but I know how to fall back on the old ways when the stores run out of stuff.

Veggies are healthy, and most freeze dried food buckets sold to would be preppers don't have a lot of veggies or if they do it's a lot of the same one. Plus I'm not fond of freeze dried food. I eat what I store and store what I eat.

And have you SEEN THE PRICES??? $17.50 per kg ($8 lb) for single red peppers this morning but a bag was nearby that was only $9 for 2 lbs. Pantry systems that work, save money and that includes veggies.

In my prepper pantry I have real food that we eat every day, just a little more of it. I rely on my fridge freezer (the bottom 1/4 is a pull out drawer type, so not large but not the tiny ice cube holder from the old days)

And this morning we are back to serious shortages. Most of the shelves were empty. But the old long keeper root cellar veggies were there, and a select few like the peppers and some zucchini.

I live in central BC and our province had a massive storm that took out all our main highways including the Coquihalla where the groceries come up on in trucks. The Coq was destroyed in 20 different places and 5 bridges washed out in November. Since then they opened up a single lane (it used to be 4 to 6 lanes) and a few days ago it was closed again due to snowfall. So I'm getting used to shortages and empty shelves.

So I'm relying heavily on the kind of veggies (that are still for sale btw) that my grandparents routinely stocked and ate all winter.

Things like

Whole heads of cabbage

Rutabagas and Turnips-- not quite the same veggie
Onions and garlic

Hard squash like Butternut

and not surprising (apart from Parsnips) these are also the cheaper options for veggies in the supermarket.

When I was at our poorest, I would shop on pay day every two weeks and these are the faithful few I could rely on lasting for the full 2 weeks. Long after the salads and the spinach are gone, the carrots, cabbage and potatoes were hanging in there with a bowl of onions and garlic.

Later in the week I will post in some reliable ways to cook these because quite honestly some like the Rutabaga or Parsnips need a few how to tips in order to make them tasty for the family.

And I really do have some delicious ways to pull off a few leaves of that head of cabbage sulking away in the corner of the crisper and make it nice.

So I'm throwing it open to all-- got questions about the easiest way to make a beet behave for dinner without too much hassle or have you got veggies you KNOW will last in the crisper till a crisis is over whether it's a snowed in highway or payday is a long ways a way.

Time to share your tips!


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Sorry if this is scattered but I'm distracted at the moment. Will be more detailed later.

Storing is good, but growing your own is good too, if you can. My sister, my aunt and myself are all within yelling distance and we plan our gardens together. The oft used items like tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, etc. are grown on all three plots. We use spunwoven covers so that we can plant earlier in the spring and extend that into fall. Planting items each week during our seasonal window yields more food too over a longer period of time. We do a lot of veg in containers too since our weather can be changeable. You can do lettuce and peppers, carrots and radishes. I manage all of our herbs and with few exceptions, most are in containers. I keep a winter garden in my kitchen, using containers and a baker's rack in front of one long window and hanging shelves at the sink window. So even in apartments, you can grow a lot. Fresh herbs can perk up almost any dish so that you don't get bored and many have awesome health benefits, in cooking, in teas, you name it. If you don't have a green thumb there are all sorts of resources, co-ops, community gardens, 4H, your local government offices and even universities will manage campus gardens for people experiencing food insecurities. Many will actually come check out your spread so as to give you advice for your specific situation. Many co-ops and community gardens will share seeds and allow newbies to learn in their bed gardens.

Canning meat is really easy too, once you familiarize yourself with the process. You can also dry meat and make your own jerky that'll keep for months in proper cellar conditions. And you don't have to have fancy equipment for it, you can use your oven. I have a dehydrator and a smoker and both can be used. Meat prices are skyrocketing and also growing scarce. Use social media or word of mouth to connect with folks in your community who hunt. Very often they will have extra to sell and/or give. Find your local butchers and make friends!! You can get worthwhile odds and ends, for super cheap. Suet for birds and critters if you feed them. I have a deal with one of our local butchers-he gives me deep discounts and I in turn will prep, cook and can a portion of that meat for him. I cannot stress enough just how important the skill of socializing when you're living a "make do and mend" lifestyle.

Ghoti Ichthus

Pray so they do not serve alone. Ephesians 6:10-20
Shortages have intensified here. Stores are blaming shortages on lack of manpower because people not coming to work because sick with wuhan virus or quarantining due to exposure to WV or having to stay home with kids due to schools going back to virtual because of WV :mad

Interesting that some stores seem to have bigger issues with manpower, and thus empty shelves, than others, and it's been this way for a long time. The stores with the biggest issues now are the same stores that had the most inventory and people calling off problems even before WV [sigh]

Unfortunately, can't put milk in a root cellar, but it can be frozen. And there's shelf-stable milk.

Been adding a few cans and jars here and there since last summer when the shelves were better stocked. Glad I did because some of Dad's favorites (and mine) are getting harder to find (and a lot more expensive).

We don't have a root cellar, but root cellar veggies do OK in the fridge, and depending on outside temps, the porch is a walk-in freezer or walk-in fridge. Just have to monitor the temp pretty closely, and I don't put meat or uncooked dairy out there "just in case"

:pray :pray :amen :amen

PS: A wine refrigerator/cooler can be used for fruits and veggies, but if storing onions, garlic, horseradish, etc. beware transference of odors to wine.
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LOL I had tons of those white scalloped squash several years ago so I have lots of squash relish. You know how much of it I eat? :confused: I also tried to make a squash preserves like my mom made. Didn’t turn out like hers as I don’t remember how she made it. I do use it in a spice cake as a substitute for apple sauce. Works great for that.
I also have lots of pickled beets which I love.
Right now I’m eating potatoes that already have sprouts on them a couple inches long. Not going to let them go to waste. Did plant a few in my compost bin early as the time is not till next month. Thinking they may survive the hard freezes in there.


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I have had next to zero luck growing parsnips. So maybe ought to start with what kind of dirt and when and where to plant.
Parsnips are FUSSY to grow, and that is probably why they cost more. They like sandy loamy soil without a lot of rocks and good drainage. If carrots like it, parsnips do too, but unlike carrots, parsnips are just picky. Grandad grew them. He liked to eat them or he wouldn't have bothered. My mother in law liked to make oxtail soup, and I do her recipe because G and I love it, and it calls for at least one parsnip, more if you can afford it. I never managed to grow them, but the above was Grandad's advice to me on growing them in the garden.

When I do catch a rare sale on them, I like to steam or boil them, and when they are tender, fry them in butter. They have a buttery creamy taste and texture that way.

They keep about the same as carrots do in the crisper drawer in a plastic bag.
Sounds like a game of Clue. Mrs. White killed Col. Mustard in the cellar with a Hubbard squash.
:lol that is exactly right! I love Clue!

I need to deal with the constant shortages here and getting back to long keeper veggies even if it's just parking a cabbage in my fridge and gnawing away at it. :bunny Or remembering to cook beets more often. Or figuring out more recipes to serve up the lowly carrot.


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I was remembering one of my books written by Edna Staebler. Long out of print it was Vegetables With Schmecks Appeal. She wrote a series of great Canadian Mennonite recipe books.

That's what got me going on the cabbage theme. She had some wonderful recipes for root cellar veggies that I used to use all the time when I was pinching the pennies.

She mentions going to the farmers market in the fall, buying the biggest best cabbage she could and taking it home, wrapped in plastic in her fridge. It would last her for months.

She would peel a few leaves off at a time for coleslaw or her mother's hot slaw recipe (I'm going to type those in below) or to mix with salads and stir fries.

Her mother's hot slaw:-- for 1 or 2 (can double or triple or more easily)

Peel off 4 big leaves, and cut in strips across the main rib.

Melt a TBSP or so of real Butter in a heavy saucepan that holds the heat and won't burn things on moderate to low heat and if you have a little bit of onion, dice that up and toss it in to start. If you don't it works fine without too. I've done it both ways, we like it fine either way and I prefer not to fiddle with the onion.

Dump the cabbage in, and set the lid on, turn it down to low or near low and set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Give it a stir once or twice in that time. You are sort of butter frying it and steaming it both.

In a cup put a tsp of sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and a good shake of pepper plus 2 tsp vinegar (I didn't always have fancy vinegar-- this works fine with plain white stuff). Blend in 2-3 TBSP of good sour cream.

When the cabbage is crisply soft as she calls it, you blend that sour cream and vinegar mixture in.

That one is EXTREMELY good and I need to locate a cabbage next time they have them in. (they just had the stir fry cabbage, not the regular kind)

Then there is:
Cabbage Cheese which she starts the same way, slice the cabbage leaves, melt a TBSP of real butter and add cabbage and cover like the above till it's crisp tender and stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese and cover up till it melts.

My own coleslaw is super fast and easy. I chop the cabbage, more than I think we need because it always shrinks down. Then I sprinkle a little sugar-- about a couple of tsp to a partial TBSP on it, a good squirt of bottled lemon juice and a good dollop of mayonnaise, and stir a couple of times. Let it sit a half hour and stir once more before serving. George loves that and it always has a nice fresh flavour. He won't eat the bottled coleslaw dressing and this is just as easy if I have bottled lemon juice, sugar and mayo on hand.

I'd love it if you all add some of your own great ways to fix cabbage in here.


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Kirkland Canadian cheddar cheese which is very like Kraft Cheddar--the real kind, not processed or low fat. Full fat, good aged cheddar. I get it in the 1.5 kg or 3 lb - ish - size.

Then we also routinely buy another one from Costco called Jarlsberg which comes in from Ireland and it's sort of a Swiss type. 400 grams, or just under a lb.

I use the cheddar for most things like the cabbage recipe above, just grate it, and toss it on but if I'm needing a lot of grated cheese for something I like that pre grated Kraft stuff with a little Monterey Jack in there for some kick.


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So tough athenasia! I'm continuing in prayer for that situation. :pray
It's the exact same reason the truckers in the States are up in arms. It makes zero sense to me what the govt is demanding on top of all the other struggles the trucking industry has been put through and my heart is with the truckers but enough said on that hot potato.

Onto the parsnips!

My favourite way to do parsnips is to boil or simmer till tender with a pinch of salt in the water just like carrots, and when they are near done, drain them, leave the burner hot and put a good lump of butter in and sizzle the excess water out while basically gently frying the Parsnips in butter. Once they begin to brown it brings a really good nutty sweetness out and they are ready to serve. I do that with carrots too.

If I was really doing it properly, I'd drain the parsnips or carrots off to the side while taking the hot pan, and browning the butter first, and when the bits of milk fat etc that are in the butter, begin to brown (buerre noisette stage for the French chefs) then slap the fully drained veggies back into the browned butter and shake and stir till it looks and smells perfect.

The other thing I like parsnips for is oxtail soup which my Russian mother in law used to make. Fry the oxtail chunks in some butter and oil in the bottom of the soup pot, then once they are browned on all sides, add a diced onion, some salt and pepper and a bay leaf then fill with water and bring to a simmer. When the meat is nearing tenderness, add chopped parsnips, simmer till those are tender and the meat is fall off the bone tender and it's oxtail soup. I need to see if I can find some oxtail chunks again because that is a favourite winter soup for George and I and it's delicious.