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Suburban Pioneer

Last Sunday I went full-on Pioneer Woman and made my own butter.

What occasioned this spasm of DIY was that I'd bought some heavy cream for Thanksgiving, because you never know which of your five desserts will need to be slathered with whipped cream.   But we failed to slather on Thanksgiving; and the cream was stranded in the fridge, sidling up to its sell-by date.   Thus the butter project.  And it worked like a charm.

Look at me, making butter!   Just like the Pilgrims.   Or at least, just like the Pilgrims if they'd had high-speed electric mixers, refrigerators, and Tupperware.

Truth be told, butter is hardly my only Pioneer Woman venture!   I have baked my own bread for almost 30 years, and at this point I'm pretty good at it.

And I make my own clothes!  Just look at this sweater I am knitting:

I've been working on this one for more than a year.   Thing is, I've been knitting for longer than I've been baking bread; but I am not at all good at knitting.  Right now, while it is still on the needles, this sweater looks pretty nice.   But I have learned after decades of knitting experience that once I assemble the sweater, it will become apparent how misshapen and ill-fitting it really is.  

And then I will go to Ann Taylor and find a nice sweater on the sale rack.  Just as my foremothers did before me!  Only my foremothers went to Loehmann's.

I have also knitted socks!  Here they are.

What I have done, actually, is to knit the same sock over and over again, trying to get it into roughly the same shape as a foot.   After I ripped it out three times I decided it would be better off left as a ball of yarn.

Most of my DIY projects result from a surplus of food of one sort or another which I am trying to save from consignment to the compost bin.   Late summer brought a bumper crop of hot peppers in our farmshare.  These I pickled, just as my ancestors in the shtetl would have done, had they been able to stomach anything spicier than a potato.

The late-summer farmshare also delivered a Napa cabbage, which I promptly turned into kimchi.

Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder did in Little House on the Prairie!  Only she also had to make her own gojuchang.

Pickled jalapenos and kimchi all came out just fine.  That big jar of pickled jalapenos made enough to accompany twice-weekly taco dinners for a family of 10.  Only we are, at the moment, a household of two; and we make tacos maybe once a month (in a good month).  The kimchi, on the other hand, is great in grain bowls -- which we make maybe twice a month (in a good month).   And also on a wide range of Korean dishes, none of which I know how to make.  So it's possible that both kimchi and pickled jalapenos may be destined for the compost bin in the end, after all.

I have an herb garden, and I use its bounty to make poultices to soothe aching joints and tinctures to treat fevers, using old medicinal formulas that have been handed down through my family for generations.

Just kidding.  My family's traditional remedies mostly involve Advil and Scotch.

Look: I may not have what it takes to function as a full-on survivalist.   But that butter was a great success; it will not be heading for the compost bin.  Because who doesn't love butter, especially when served with homemade bread?

Plus, I've heard it pairs great with kimchi.

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