Friday, September 3, 2010

The September Bobaganda

OK folks, I am ready for fall. For my money, fall is the best time of year in Oklahoma. So let’s all join together and sing our way into the changing of the season. It may not be officially “crisp weather” just yet, but it’s not far away and after the heat of August I am ready for a change. So, all together now, follow the bouncing ball. . . let’s sing my Autumn Carol, to the traditional tune O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree).

(1) O Autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!
The air is crisp, the moon shines long,
It's time to raise our voice in song
The squash and pumpkins, taters sweet,
Peppers, greens, and nuts we greet.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

(2) The heat of summer is now past,
We wait the time of winter's blast.
The children are in school today,
The farmers work to reap the hay.

Peach preserves and apple butter,
Set our hearts to be aflutter.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

(3) There is no kinder time of year,
Than Autumn bright without a fear,
The peaceful times upon the land,
Bring hope and health, a time so grand.

So raise a glass of Autumn cheer,
A cider strong, a mug of beer.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

One question I’m hearing a lot these days is “where are the eggs?” You wouldn’t know this from the supermarket, but egg production varies with the weather. In the deep cold of winter, and the stifling heat of summer, chickens do not want to work so hard. So they don’t, they take a break. And so it comes to pass that there aren’t so many eggs for sale this month, which comes on the heels of the August heat and the ladies haven’t gotten over their summer slump and started in on their fall production. It’s always a good idea to check the website regularly, as some producers may list eggs towards the end of the order cycle as they become more certain about how many eggs they will have on hand. And of course, demand for locally and humanely produced eggs has soared through the roof on the heels of the gigantic egg recalls and the vivid television pictures of the deplorable conditions in the commercial egg factories.

The present egg situation leads me to the next fall topic, which is “On putting food by.” There are times of the year when egg production is really heavy. Indeed, we have actually had orders in the past year where there were still eggs for sale at the closing of the order.

One of the most basic principles of a local food system is that customers must “put food by” when it is plentiful, so they will have something to eat when food production is not so plentiful. So as egg production ramps up, buy extra eggs and freeze them for use later. In other words, buy the eggs for your Thanksgiving and Christmas baking and cooking in October. Here is everything you need to know about freezing eggs -- – and be sure to read this before you freeze eggs as you don’t just pop them into the freezer in their shells.

The same is true with veggies. Last month I bought a large bag of pickling cucumbers, and they are now becoming refrigerator pickles. Shortly after delivery day, we finished off a gallon jar of pickles I bought at the store. So being in a hurry, I simply sliced up the cukes, and added them to the now empty pickle jar (which was half full of pickling juice), together with a couple of habaneros (since we like everything hot), and topped off the jar with apple cider vinegar. Then into the refrigerator it went, and in about another week they should be ready to go. They will probably last about hmmm 1 week, given the way we eat pickles around here. This is probably the easiest method of making refrigerator pickles.

Pickling and fermentation are two very healthy ways to preserve summer produce for winter eating. At the end of this bobaganda is a list of links on pickling and fermentation. Buy extra this month and start putting food by for your family.

Freezing, canning, and dehydrating are also readily accessible ways to preserve the summer’s bounty. I have dehydrated zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkin, carrots – typically as shreds, which I then use in winter soups, stews, and casseroles. In my freezer I have frozen hot peppers and tomatoes, and quite a bit of cooked greens (mostly Swiss chard). And yes, it has good local meats in it too, and I have a back-up for the electricity in the form of a marine battery and an inverter.

There was a time when hardly anyone would want to go into winter without enough food to feed their family until the next summer’s harvest. Food these days is abundant and readily available, but we often forget how rare this has been in history, and how fragile the system is that brings us sort-of-fresh strawberries in January, flown 6,000 miles from the southern hemisphere.

So now’s the time to buy. There won’t be any cucumbers or okra available through the food coop in January. Get what you will need in January in September and October, and put some by for eatin’ later in the winter.  (If the coop producers are sold out, be sure to check your local farmers' market and any roadside stands in your area.)

Don’t forget long term storage items either, like buckets and bags of wheat. Beer and bread made civilization possible.

God help me, I bought a supermarket chicken. It was only five dollars. Hey, we’re all entitled to moments of craziness and weakness. I certainly got what I paid for. The first thing I noticed was that more than half of it disappeared when I defrosted it, lots of water in that bird and as we all know, water is heavy. Somehow, that had never happened with any of the chickens I have bought through the coop. Then there were the big globs of yellow fat. The meat had a greasy taste to it (I roasted it). So as it turned out, I paid almost as much as the price of a coop chicken for not-very-good chicken (factoring in all the water the processor injected that bird with in order to drive up the weight and create the illusion of a cheap chicken).

One thing that became obvious very early in our history is that the Coop’s meat market is very diverse. While we have a lot of producers selling beef, you’ll notice that they all have a bit different take on beef production – from breeds to pastures to feeds.

But we don’t stop at beef. There’s lamb, and goat, and bison, and pork. I count 18 different ideas from various producers on pork sausage. Italian, mild Italian, hot Italian, chorizo, hot breakfast, mild breakfast, medium breakfast, English bangers and etc. Not to mention the beef, bison, and lamb sausages. Don’t like any of them? Well, buy some ground pork or ground beef or ground bison or ground lamb and make your own (you’ll find links at the end of this bobaganda on making your own sausage). Buy a cured ham, or buy a roast and make your own.

Is your budget tight? Well, mine is. So we eat a lot of ground meat. I can fix ground meat every night of the week and folks don’t get tired of it because (a) the ground meat is so tasty, and (b) there are about ten gazillion different ways to prepare ground meats. No time to make a meatloaf? That’s fine, instead of making it into a loaf, make it into patties and pan fry. Need something to take for lunch? Make your own pizza pockets. Make your own dough, or buy dough through the coop, pinch off a golf-ball sized piece, roll it flat and then in a circle. Place a spoonful or two of your favorite savory ground meat and sauce or gravy mixture and some shredded cheese or ricotta cheese in the middle, moisten the edge of the dough with water, fold over and pinch the seams shut. Bake until golden brown, freeze or refrigerate for eating later. Zap in the microwave or warm in the oven. Voila, your own convenience food at a fraction of the cost of store-bought “Hot Pockets”.

You want contented cows, our dairy people have contented cows. And the taste of the resulting dairy products proves the point.
Start with our famous yogurt cheese. This, btw, is a low carb delight, which means its good for folks with issues with their blood sugar. Most of the carbs in yogurt are in the whey and yogurt cheese is made by straining whey out of the yogurt. So besides being very tasty, yogurt cheese is the best choice for folks who are watching their weight and trying to stabilize their blood sugar. You want a tasty, quick treat? Mix equal parts of yogurt cheese and ricotta, add some cocoa, a drop or two of vanilla, and a bit of sweetener. Voila, almost instant tasty dessert and low in carbs (depending on how much and what type of sweetener you use). Or use some mashed berries or peaches instead of the cocoa and add no sweetener. You can run it through a blender or just mix it with a spoon – a blender will make it “more smooth”, spoon mixing will produce a little more chunky result, but either way the taste is perfect.

Note that the carb counts of yogurt in general are less than whole milk – assuming of course it is real yogurt with real live cultures and it hasn’t been junked up with high fructose corn syrup. If you read labels carefully, you might find something in the supermarket, but a better choice is to buy through the coop.


I wish we had some good local food diners with take-out. I’d get the blue plate special with great regularity. But wait, we do have local food diners AND we have all kinds of take-out!. Most of us like to cook, but everyone has those days on occasion where you either just don’t feel like cooking or simply don’t have the time. Sure, you can make all kinds of goodies to heat and stash them in your freezer, but not everybody is up to that kind of quantity cooking. Comes now the wonderful chefs and bakers of the Oklahoma Food Coop. Together, they constitute one of the most incredible restaurants of all time. I have tried many of the prepared foods available from the coop, and they would not be out of place on the tables of the finest and most expensive restaurants in town. There’s nothing wrong with take-out, but do yourself, your family, your health, and your local economy a favor and get your take-out from the coop.


From body care to gardening, and on to the fabric arts, cook books, toys, games, and most points in between, the Coop’s “Mercantile” producers have a wide variety of artisan products for your shopping pleasure. It is, after only, only FOUR COOP DELIVERY DAYS until Christmas. Don’t wait until the last minute for your family’s holiday shopping. That’s a good way to stress your budget. Spread your holiday shopping out over several delivery days – shopping is always fun, so you might as well have some every month! Take some time to browse the departments and shelves in the non-food floor of our Cooperative Cyber Food and Mercantile Store, and find perfect gifts for all you love. Beat the rush! Make your list and check it twice. Figure out who’s been naughty and nice. Coop gifts are coming their way.


With times being what they are, supporting our local economies is more critical than ever. With the health care system being what it is, taking control of our health destinies are more important than ever. One of the most prevalent emotions running through the population these days is a feeling of helplessness, that things have somehow gotten out of control, and we are powerless before these great changes that are going on all around us.

Well, I will tell you the truth: that is a damnable lie of the devil and don’t you for a minute believe that its true. We the people are not powerless, we are not at the mercy of tremendous impersonal forces beyond our control. Or at least, we don’t have to be.

Two months ago, my blood sugar was running out of control. My fasting blood sugar was in the 200-220 range, and had spiked to over 240. Now its running 110-120, and hardly ever spiking over 140. And this improvement has been achieved without any medication, but instead by controlling my diet (counting those carbs!), and losing weight.

Five years ago, my utility bills were out of control. A lot of hard work later, I am no longer at the mercy of giant utility companies that see me as simply a bottomless bank account for their personal enrichment.

That’s because I have a plan for how I and my household will adapt in the coming years.

Everyone needs a plan to make it through the future. Now is the time to talk with your family, to read up on the issues, to research the alternatives, to create a lifestyle that will protect the quality of your life as we go into this age of peak energy and its decline, economic irrationality, and climate instability.

As we walk this journey together, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative is an essential aspect of our mutual adaptation to the realities of the future. We offer our own version of the convenience of the big box supermarket. You can turn in your order at a time convenient to you. You can have some of the best access available anywhere in the nation to locally and sustainably produced artisan food and non-food items. You can be confident in the safety of the food you feed your family. You can do your part to increase the security and well-being of your family while also creating a strong and resilient local economy that will help us continue to meet our needs no matter what those “giant impersonal forces” throw at us in the future.

All this, and tasty nutritious food too, is a bargain.

So let’s keep those bon appetitin’ good times rollin’, you hear?

Bob Waldrop, bobagandist






USDA on Fermentation and 8 pages linked on page


USDA info on pickling and 67 urls linked on this page


Storing dehydrated foods

Solar dehydrator Dehydrator.08

Dehydrating and curing

Solar food drying

Food dehydration options

Drying Chillis

How to make the Dry-it semi-continuous tray dryer

How to use the Dry-if semi-continuous tray dryer

Engineering drawings for small tray dryer

Tray Dryers

USDA info on dehydration And all pages linked on this page


Freezing convenience foods you make at home

USDA info on freezing foods and all urls linked on page


How to make salami

jowl bacon
honey cured bacon
corned beef
boiled ham
smoked ham
beef sausage
Jimmy Dean sausage
sausage making tips

Sausage making

Meat smoking and curing faqs

meat smoking chart

download more pages here

USDA standards on percent of salt and ntirates to be added to cured meats

These links are from my new online Compendium of Useful Information, access to 2 gigabytes of information on sustainable and resilient living.

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