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homesteading

June 20, 2011

homesteading…such an odd concept for the modern human being. back in the day, people traveled thousands of miles across the country in search of a a home. if you found a parcel with no one residing on it, the government would give it to you to set up a home and make a life there. teton valley idaho is filled with large tracts of land that were homesteaded mostly by mormon families back in the early part of the last century. i am truly in awe of the amount of work and hardship that must have gone into making a life work here in the tetons back in the early 1900s. it is hard enough now with modern technologies like grocery stores and indoor plumbing. our weather is hard…in fact, they are still adding to the snow tally in the mountains which, if i heard correctly was above 400% of average to date. on years like this one, it is likely that your land would be flooded.  the ground in many areas is rocky, sandy or full of clay…so trying to dig fenceposts is practically impossible. our growing season is ridiculously short with the snow still falling into june and often starting again in september. forget growing tomatoes, peppers or eggplants in the ground outside. if you homesteaded here, you lived off of meat, potatoes, carrots and dishes sweetened with sugar beets.

so why did the people stay here and why do people continue to come here? well, there is the obvious…it is beautiful. there are few other mountain ranges in the states with as much physically distinctive character as the tetons. there is the character of the people. we have a pretty high transient community. those people who do stick around are generally hardy of mind and spirit. In order to make it here you need to be able to rely on others and have be prepared to help your neighbors out. we are not overly populated. with weather like this and no access to a major international airport like slc or den, there is no way we will ever get as populated as colorado or utah.

what can i say, the tetons are just a good place to live if you don’t want to be surrounded by a million people….if you are hardy enough to enjoy recreating in the snow, wind and cold (i must admit i am a fair weather winter recreator)… if you like holing up during mudseason which can last for months at a time…if once summer does arrive you have the stamina to hit up a social event every night and work on your garden every day…and of course if you are creative enough to use up those few ingredients you can grow here before they go bad.

yesterday, i decided that it was time to finally start “putting up” food from our homestead. i already told you about my delightful potatoes which we are still feeding off of almost a year later. well, we have also been flavoring our foods with the bounty of garlic from last year’s harvest. unfortunately the garlic is on its way out. the heads are beginning to grow long green rat tails and it was only a matter of time until they were rendered unusable. as pickled garlic is one of my favorite vices, i thought it was time to try making it on my own. i also decided that since i was going to can garlic, it was time to finally use some of the rhubarb which was growing on the property when we bought it. and so…my first attempt at canning and being a modern day homesteader. (i will save the pickled garlic recipe until after taste them in a few weeks).

Orange Rhubarb Marmelatta

1 1/2 lbs finely chopped rhubarb stems

3/4 lb sugar

2 oranges

2 inches of ginger

  • blend the oranges (peels and all) along with the ginger in a food processor until pulpy.
  • place all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1-2 hours. if the consistency is to your liking and the flavors are melded, it is done.
  • place marmelatta in canning jars and fill to 1/4″ of the top. wipe off jar rims and place new canning lids on top. submerge jars in a boiling water bath and process. (10 minutes at sea level and 1 additional minute for every 1000 feet above sea level) Remove jars from water, set on a baking rack or layer of towels, cover in more towels and let sit overnight. If jars are sealed put them up in your root cellar or pantry, if not, reprocess.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2011 3:47 am

    I have also always been in awe of the people who managed to build their homes in unpopulated areas…I can only imagine the hard work that went into it…Pickled garlic? I’m going to have to try that.

  2. pazzaragazza permalink*
    August 17, 2011 4:59 pm

    pickled garlic is delightful. i highly recommend trying it. i don’t have a great recipe yet though to pass along. i was warned by a friend who used to make it commercially that you should only blanch it for 45 seconds to a minute. otherwise it will be mushy. did mine for 4 minutes and it wasn’t mushy, but not perfect.

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