“Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad, but bread is king.”
– Louis Bromfield
I have always enjoyed conversation with those who enjoy growing as well as hunting their own food. There is an insight that goes beyond the typical, because for each of them, this became a conscious choice at some point in their lives.
Even those who were born to farm families and raised on home-grown food had to have made the decision on their own to pursue this way of life. Sometimes, the decision comes as a result of simply realizing home-grown food means fresh, amazing flavor. Think for a moment of the difference between peas from a can versus snap peas so fresh from the garden that they are still warm from the sunshine and earth.
My friend Deanna, who had never known what truly fresh meant, decided a year ago she wanted to buy a few chicks for her two young children. Those chicks now produce enough eggs for her little family with enough left over to share.
The very first day that she gathered eggs and made breakfast with them, she couldn’t wait to tell me.
“I was stunned at how good those eggs were,” she said with a radiant smile. It has been an ongoing lesson for her children in so many ways — they have learned where eggs come from, that gathering must be done every day, feed and fresh water provided, and that sharing them with others feels pretty darn good.
I grew up giving no thought to any of this, taking it all for granted. Every day, we had the freshest milk possible, with our own pasture-fed beef always available, along with plenty of pork and some occasional elderberries, raspberries, strawberries, and bright red cherries from a big tree in our side yard.
We bought fresh eggs from a neighbor, whipping up delicious cakes and cookies. We all loved the traditional meat and potatoes fare, with amazing gravies and fresh bread.
Though we didn’t have an orchard of our own, we could drive a short distance to Scenic Ridge and come home with fresh apples of every crisp variety and an abundance of peaches in mid-summer.
We rarely went anywhere but the kitchen table to eat, and in my childhood, if someone said “let’s eat out tonight” it would have meant putting a tablecloth on the picnic table and carting stuff out to the back yard. The food always tasted even better in the fresh air and sunshine.
If someone would have told me as a kid that I would one day cook with deer meat, I would have laughed in denial. My husband loves to hunt, and I have learned to enjoy venison.
The deer live off the land all around us, so we know what they eat. They cost farmers plenty, their free-range feeding filling them up and out with no consideration given to boundaries.
Much of our lives, then and now, seems to revolve around food, and I have learned to cook fresh foods whenever possible. I have grown to appreciate locally grown foods not only for the great taste, but for the fact that buying from neighbors helps us all.
We are eating better, healthier, and offering a bit of cash for the hard work that went in to raising, weeding or feeding, the finished product for us to enjoy.