Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anatomy of a Breakdown

I thought this was a great article.  Tess Pennington analyzes just what happens when you are caught up in a large scale disaster.  

She outlines the stages that are experienced when people are separated from the electrical grid, from clean water, sewage, transportation and/or gasoline, and normal food and water distribution.  You should probably read the article as it is good and informative, but not hard, but I'm going to give a short outline of it if you are pressed for time.

1.  The Warning: 

There usually is a warning, and often times the warning comes several days in advance of the disaster, earthquakes being exempted from this generalization.  Tornadoes sometimes only have scant warning.  For one reason or another there is a part of the population that decides to stay behind.

2. Shock and Awe: (1 to 2 days)

What a great phrase, but accurate.  It is hard to wrap your mind around the colossal forces that are unleased by these huge and/or violent storms, or the earth moving around like a carnival ride.  It is so far out of our experience that we can't comprehend it.  Those that stay behind are almost always somewhat unprepared for what overtakes them, and the majority are very unprepared.

3. The Breakdown: (3-7 days)

Here is the time when people run out of water, out of food, out of fuel.  The find themselves stranded and shocked by the loss of home and community.  Many of these unfortunate are the ones that the news guy sticks the mic in front of and asks how they feel.  Duh....not great.  Those news guys can be so annoying.

People are expecting things to go back to normal, but with powerlines down, substations trashed, often water mains broken, pumping stations damaged, things don't come back to normal very soon.  The roads might be torn up, rescue resources are stretched to the max and people are hungry, thirsty, cold/hot and very pissed off that their entitled needs aren't met.  Looting begins. You are pretty much on your own then.

4. Recovery: (8-30+ days)

Sometimes this takes years, and things are never the same.

We have a long history of self sufficiency, but we often are lulled into complacency as well.  Lots of times we think that a year's supply of food is a ridiculous amount to have, or we despair that we can hardly afford to pay for this weeks food, yet alone to build up a reserve.

We can't do it all at once.  It is a day-by-day process.  We have to learn to eat differently.  We have to take advantage of all the little resources that are at hand.  Often a good source of food is to process the food that we normally would throw away as being out-of-date, or fruit that is a little soft or bruised.

You can dry it, bottle it, make soup out of it, and bottle the soup.  We throw away hundreds of milk and beverage conatiners that would work just fine to store water in.  We throw away many glass jars that can be used to can jellys and jams, many with pop up lids can be used again and again (we will talk another time about what can be safely bottled in what jar), but you don't always have to buy brand new jars.

WalMart has a hundred camping items that will work pretty well in an emergency.  Buy one per week. 

Try to get by even for a night eating out of your food storage, cooking and lighting with your alternate sources of heat and light.  We had a power outage for a couple of hours early in the Spring.  We were fine for the essentials but couldn't sew, couldn't blog, couldn't surf, couldn't watch TV.....how embarrassing that was.

The truth is that is we don't prepare ourselves for troubled times, we will be unprepared, we will be afraid, and we will probably have to go out into the crowds of frightened and anxious people and won't be able to stay quietly in our homes.

Just a few thoughts.  Read the article, there is a lot more there than I have.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Zucchini Casserole....or Soup

OK, so I haven't got this dialed in yet to have the same texture and consistency as a potato or rice based casserole. But for that small failing, it is darned good if I say so myself, and it has two other benefits.

  •  It is a very low carb receipie
  • It gets rid of monster zucchini
  • You probably won't mind eating it fairly frequently
  • It is easy to make

1/2 Sweet onion
1 Bell Pepper
Zucchini - quite a bit.  About 1/2 of a club sized zucchini, peeled.
1 pint of chicken broth (mine was canned)
2 Tbl spoons tapicoca
1 cube of bullion
1 package of bratwurst, or sweet Italian uncooked sausage
1 chunk of cheese, cheddar or colby
Parmesan  cheese to taste
Pepper to taste
2 med sized tomatoes

Optional - to add to the chicken broth:
Celery seed - some
Oregano - some
Hot red peppers- some, depending on how tough or crazy you are.

Here is how I make it:

Drop onion and bell pepper into food processor and chop into a mince.

Replace mincing blade with slicing blade.  Slice zucchini into long slices with kitchen knife. Drop long slices into food processor with slicing blade and hence chop into small pieces.  The food processor bowl should now have minced onion and pepper on the bottom, covered with sectioned, sliced zucchini.  Empty the bowl into a casserole dish - long, flat and wide, according to how much zucchini you used.

Pour in the seasoned, tapiocaed chicken broth.  Dice the tomatoes, or more if you want, and spread over the top.  Press the raw bratwrust or Italian sausages into the zucchini.  Shred the cheddar or colby cheese on the top, sprinkle on a little parmasean cheese and bake, covered in the oven for 60 min at 350 deg F.  Uncover and brown with the broiler, but be careful as it is easy to get distracted and burn the whole thing to a crisp. Theoretically easy to get distracted.

I'll get a picture posted the next time I make it, but I wanted to publish it now.  You can probably add more tapioca, and it will just thicken it up.  


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Planting Guide

This year's garden wasn't as big in square footage as some of our past gardens for a variety of reasons (big tree removal and a busy summer), but it was somewhat saved by a three row, late summer planting of beets, chard, and arugula.

I don't know how many of you like to eat boiled greens, and actually there should be a fancy French term that would make them sound better.  Boiled Greens.....if I didn't know that they were so good, I wouldn't have anything to do with them either.  What is so good about them, you might ask?  Well they are easy to grow, fresh, and full of vitamins, a good source of calcium and fiber.  And.....basically not fattening at all if you don't put a pound of butter on them.

There are a lot of crops that you can plant in the late summer/early fall that will give you another crop.  Most people look at you strangely if you tell them you just planted another row or two in your garden, and it is late August or early September.  But that is fine.  The weather is typically warm enough to allow the seeds to germinate quickly and to grow well, but not so hot that they plants get stressed from lack of water, or become strong flavored from the heat.  You won't get a second crop of sweet corn, or any watermelon etc, so don't even think about it.  You can get great crops of salad greens (lettuce, cabbage, arugula etc.), and boiled greens (verts bouillis..... as the FrAnch are fond of saying...) (chard, collard greens, beets, spinach, mustard greens etc.).  If you had known and planned well, or have a time machine, you could probably get a second crop of peas.  Onions will over winter...beets and chard will be very mild flavored from growing in cooler weather.  We have had chard overwinter, but it usually in the really cold weather.

Sometimes, in late summer or early fall the stores have moved the seeds to the back of their storage room, or have gotten rid of their stock of seeds completely.  This can be a frustration.  We get our seeds from Mountain Valley Seeds, and they are always ready to ship.  They ship all of their seeds in airtight mylar covered zip baggys, so they are protected from light and moisture.  If you keep them in a cool place the seeds will last for a long time.  Also, Mountain Valley ships in quantity if you want.  So if you think you will be eating a lot of one variety, or want to plant a small field, they are the ones to order from.

Here is a good guide to fall planting that you can save to your computer as a PDF or print or not.  Not only does it give you an idea of days to harvest, but also of frost tolerance and of other characteristics.  For instance, it shows that beets have a better flavor when grown in cool weather.  We have noticed that broccoli is mild and sweet when grown in cooler weather, and gets a really strong taste in the heat of the summer.  I haven't planted a late crop of broccoli, but we noticed that the second growth after the main harvest was always better tasting than the main crop.  I don't know if our plants were water deprived in the heat, or if it was the heat itself that gave it the strong taste, but the second growth was always better.

I guess that is about it for now.  Happy harvesting! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why Bother?

It is the end of the season, just about.  Our garden was interrupted by  the partial removal of a large locust tree, and as a result of a busy spring and summer, and other projects around the house, I didn't plant the garden that we have had for the last few years.  We did get the raised beds planted, and I got some late chard, beets, and arugula planted in the main garden.  But that is OK.  Now we are contemplating a move to a house with a small farm, or a really, really large and overgrown yard.  We are contemplating raising chickens, milking goats, raising and even more of our own food, and I have to ask myself why I bother.  It is better that I ask that question first, and have some kind of an answer ready, because a lot of people ask me why, and sometimes I flounder with my answers.
When I started this blog several years ago,  there were multiple, immediate crisis' going on in the financial world and I felt that this might be a way to help make family members more aware of how dependent we all are to institutions and infrastructure that might fail, or that we might not be able to access, for any reason.

Time has moved on.  The crisis of Lehman Brothers has morphed into the Eurozone crisis..... and that will probably move on to something else.  More immediately,  we have had children out of work for extended periods of time, others that struggle to make ends meet as they raise families and try to complete their schooling.   So our family wasn't at the economic center of the hurricane, but they got plenty of wind and rain and 'power outages'.  

So in the here and now I find myself contemplating the future, contemplating a move, retirement, and a completely different life.  And so the question:  'Why bother?  Why do you want to tie yourself down.  Don't you know that you can drive to Costco (at probably any given distance) and get more food cheaper than you can raise it, and much easier?  Why do you want to bother?'

Part of my love for the rural and pastoral is a love for peace and quiet.  Part of raising a garden or raising stock is about a connection with my past, with Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents, patient, hardworking, full of faith and hope.  When I am digging, hoeing, planting, gathering, weeding, building....I remember stories of lives and times gone by, and I hope that I can live up to their standards of conduct and faith.  

Part of it is the good things that you raise. And you know how clean the lettuce is.  You know how much (if any) sprays were used.  What you pick is fresh and at it's peak of flavor and nutrition.   It is good not to have to run to the store every time you need an apple or an onion- you always end up buying other things too.  

Economy, nutrition, nostalgia, contemplation, and peace of mind.  Your mileage may vary, and gardens and stock care might be just a big pain in your backside, but I guess these are some of the reasons why I bother to raise a garden, and why I'll probably go to the bother of gathering eggs, and milking until I'm too old to raise a shovel.

(P.S. Here is a Prairie Home Companion audio clip on small town life and gardens supplied by Mike - {Thanks Mike} )

Raised Beds On the Cheap- The Frugal Farmer

I ran into a nice video on building raised beds with recycled pallet wood.  Your mileage may vary in that you might not be able to find pallets with the same dimensions.... but you are smart and can probably adapt this video to other scrap wood that you might be able to acquire.

Enjoy.  Our raised beds are made from cinderblock and are probably more durable than wood, and we are pleased with them, but they cost more, and they were quite a bit of work to build, especially the capstones.

Also, re-claiming pallet wood:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Urban Farming Website

It has been a busy summer, and for some reason I just haven't felt the urge to blog much.....OK - any.  

But today I did run across an interesting website that can probably give most of us (no matter what our skill or knowledge level) some good information about being more self sufficient and (thus, to my way of thinking)  having greater peace of mind.  I'm not sure, but I think it is a new site for that family in California that raised some huge unbelievable amount of food on 1/10 acre several years ago.  They look like the same people in one of the pictures.  

They have information on everything from gardening to bee keeping to chickens to goats.  Probably you aren't interested in all of these, perhaps none of these, but if you are, it seems like a good place to start.


Friday, July 20, 2012

FYI - Not Much Rain This Summer

Just a quick note - huge areas of corn have been affected by the dry weather in the mid-west this year.  Our whole food system is based on there being plentiful corn.  Meat, dairy, poultry, and ethanol for a gasoline additive all depend on the abundance  and cheapness of corn.

What the ultimate effects of the drought will be, I don't know, but I can't imagine food becoming cheaper, or gas for that matter either.  It seems like once food prices go up, they are sticky, and they tend to stay up as long as the businesses can keep them up.

Just sayin'.........as an old friend said once, after looking at the results of my hay stacking efforts 'Well, it looks like h--- now, but it'll look better in a snow drift'.  And so it is with our efforts to fill the pantry during the harvest.  It may not seem like much now, but you will be glad you did later on.

Here is an animated drought map for the last 12 weeks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Post Script:

P.S In one week we get to 'Spring Forward' and while it seems like you are getting less sleep, you will be getting and extra hour of light in the evening.   

Friday, March 2, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set......... Plant!

When the weather is cold, and the snow is deep, the seed companies send out the catalogs.  I'm always glad to see them.  I don't mind the winter cold so much, but the yard looks dreary is generally improved by a good snow.  Even though the early pitch to gardeners is probably mostly motivated by trying to beat out the competition on getting the first order of the sun deprived gardeners of the country, it is still a nice service to all of us.

Gardening is a funny pass time.  It doesn't beckon and call you out, or even invite you to think much about the coming season until it finally gets warm.  It's hard to get excited about getting the early, cool weather seeds in the ground when the weather hasn't even gotten to the cool stage yet.  It seems much better to tackle an indoor project, or just goof around with a game or YouTube when the temperature is low and the wind is blowing.  And after last night's storm, I know I will be inside for a while - you do have to be able to see the ground before you can do much digging.

So, on a snowy day what is there to do?  Well, a couple of weeks ago when it was still dry, but we were getting ready to take down a dead tree, I thought it might be time to stop using the rototiller for a lawn/garden ornament and took it, the lawn mower and the weed whip down to a small engine repair place to be repaired.  He was able to get to work on them right away, and will have them back to me in plenty of time to put them to work.  Also, the tree removal people gave us a 50% off price on removing a dead locust tree because they needed the work and it was not too busy.  You know that the first nice weekend in April there will be the start of the tidal wave of garden interest.  The stores will be packed, the small engine guys will be over loaded and the tree trimmers will be more expensive.

We got the tree down, many of the branches converted to firewood, and the trunk loaded and transported to a friend that has a sawmill.

 Early spring is a good time to start your gardening.  As soon as the soil is thawed you can start to plant your early season crops - peas, carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, chard, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips.  We are talking seeds - don't rush out to buy the early plants from the green house because they will get killed as we are still in frost season.

Another thing that I like about early spring is you don't have to do it all..... later in the year it is so much work.  Work, work work...dig, plant,  water, weed.  Now it is cool.  You can get a bag or two of steer manure from Home Depot or Wal-Mart or from the steer (if there are any in your neighborhood), spread it out on the row you are going to work on and do a little digging- you want to break up the soil and mix in the manure,  then break up the clods with the rake until you have a nice seed bed, then plant the seeds, cover them to the appropriate depth and call it a day.  You don't even have to water.  It is kind of surprising later in the season,  when it gets warm, how much you got done.  The cool weather crops will be very happy, and they will grow well for you.  Don't expect any peas if you plant them on June 1.

There is a lot of work to be done in the spring.   Digging in the garden, especially early in the spring often reminds me of a story that Grandma told me.  She probably told it only once or twice but since spending the years that we spent on the farm, it made a huge impression on me.  The story is pretty short - It was that my Grandpa always used to go out early in the spring to get the ditches in shape.  His ditches weren't leveled by laser, there was no concrete lining or steel head gates.  They ran along the highest part of a field, and were usually sod.  He would go along each spring and shape the sod, clean out the sand and silt, and shovel smaller lateral ditches to further divide the water to the rows.  Grandma said that he put a file in his back pocket and would go out and shovel all day.  That's the story, but this is how it plays in my mind....

I imagine that the shovel was kept almost as sharp as a bread knife - you can't cut sod with a dull shovel.  So I see him out there, all alone, the grass just coming up, wind blowing a little.  It's cold if you are standing around, but he isn't.  The shovel flashes regularly in the sun.  His arms are corded with muscle.  His hat is pulled down around his ears.  He works steadily, hour after hour, a break at noon, more shoveling in the afternoon until about 4 p.m.  Then he comes in and forks hay to the cows, milks 3 or 4 cows, feeds the chickens, chops and saws some wood for the stove and then comes in for dinner.  He sits down and Grandma and Harlan, little children then, climb onto his lap.  He eats his supper in the warm kitchen with his sweet little family.  He is so tired, but happy with his work and his life.  They put the kids to bed, maybe they read from the Bible.  They might have a radio....I don't know.  But soon it is morning again, the sun up just a little earlier, milk, feed stock, take the shovel and head back to the ditches.  And all without an iPod..........

I guess that is about it.  Back to taxes..... Some of you have told me that you wanted a reminder of when to get your gardens started.  Now is the time.  Start small, make it easy.   It should be a happy hobby that gives you some peace, some exercise, and some good food.   

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chili in a Bottle

Note: This post sat in the 'draft' bin for a long time.  Usually when a post sits in draft this long I delete it and move on, but this has quite a few links that I put in to try to explain just when and why you might want to use pressure canning, and when and why you might want to use hot water bath canning, and even why canning works to preserve food.  Being a geek, I find an interesting tie between processing food and early experiments in germ theory that were first done several hundred years ago.  Your mileage may vary if you are not scientifically inclined, or you might just enjoy a quiet browse through some new material.  

After whipping up a batch of chili for a family reunion that we couldn't attend I was wondering what to do with it all. Annie isn't a big chili fan, and I would be eating it in my lunch until the end of the month. Finally I thought - bottle it, and blog on it. The idea to do another blog on bottling came when I was chatting with one of my daughters about her anticipated garden. She said that she might even try canning. The more I thought about this, the more I thought that it is entirely too shrouded in mystery, because for the most part, it isn't that hard.

Being one of those people that often has to tell you how the watch is made, when all you wanted was the time, I thought a little background was maybe in order. I will make it brief, and you can make it as detailed as you would like.

Anton van Leeuwenhoek
discovered that there are forms of life so small that they couldn't be seen by the naked eye.  He made the first microscope, and it's lens was a droplet of water.  Later he made better lenses out of glass - grinding his own.

Louis Pasteur
- go down to germ theory and you can read about Pasteur's experiments with broth. Basically, those experiments allowed people to see what causes food spoilage, and to come up with a simple way to preserve food.  We have all been brought up knowing about microbes and how they grow and travel, and what they can do, but this was big stuff.  To be able to take a nutrient broth and show that it wouldn't spoil if all the microbes in it had been killed through boiling, and that no new microbes could enter due to the design of the glassware was amazing stuff. But enough theory, time to get practical.

Canning food is nothing more killing any germ or spore in the food, and sealing it so that no germ or spore can recontaminate it.   What you are canning is important - some things are harder for microbes to grow in than others, and consequently do not have to be processed as long or at as high a temperature.  Let's make a list:

Easiest to hardest to preserve:

  • Jams, jellies, kim chi, sour kraut and pickles are the easiest to preserve, and in some cases actually don't need any processing - they can be put into clean jars, hot from the kettle.  This is a 'hot pack'. They are acidic (sour) and/or have a high sugar or salt content.  It was common practice in my Grandma's kitchen to seal jams and jellies with liquid paraffin to keep out the dust.  It's possible that a little mold might grow on the top of a jar of jam if you didn't do anything to prevent it, but it is unlikely that it would be anything that you couldn't scrape off - it wouldn't penetrate deeply into the jam.
  • Fruit, fruit juice, salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and tomato juice etc. - these are all sour, but don't have a high sugar/salt content.  Botulism microbes and/or spores can not live in an acid environment, and so these things generally can be canned successfully with water bath processing.  Note: some varieties of tomatoes are 'low acid' and can allow growth of botulism.  Typically, at our house we add 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice (to fruits and fruit juices or tomatoes) or 1 tablespoon of vinegar to tomatoes.  We usually don't use vinegar with fruits - you could as far as canning safety is concerned, but it has a stronger flavor than lemon juice.
  • Soups, meat, pinto beans - anything not acid - these things all need to have pressure processing.  Pressure processing raises the temperature to above the point of normal boiling any elevation.  Some pressure canners have different weight sets that allow you to pick from a variety of settings.  Ours only allows 15 psi of pressure.  I guess you could fiddle with the stove's heat controls to keep the pressure below 15 psi, but I don't know why you would want to.  Complete directions for pressure canning are beyond the scope of the bullet point, and probably beyond my level of expertise.  Here is what I do: I put about 1-1/2" of water in the bottom of the canner, add the jars (these should be at least room temperature, or hotter -preferably very hot.), put the lid on, turn the burner temperature control to just below 'HI', and let it go.  When the pressure gets to 15 lbs (this is about 250 deg F), the weight will begin to rock and release steam.  I turn the burner down to about half-way to HI and let it cook for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes I turn the heat off and let it cool naturally.  It usually takes about 4 hours for the pressure to dissipate.  I usually wait until 12 hours or so has past before removing the lid.  This allows the pressure and temperature in the bottles to equalize with the ambient temperature and pressure and keeps the bottles from leaking around the seal, or worse, breaking. 
General Stuff to Watch:

Bottles: they have to be clean: hand or machine wash. It is good if they are also warm - 175 to 200 deg F. If you put hot food or liquid into a cold jar, the thermal shock can break the glass.

Lids- These also have to be clean. It is good if they are new, but not absolutely necessary. I always use new lids when I am pressure canning just because it takes to long to process, and I just don't want a problem.  For jams - the easiest - I often reuse lids, especially if they are decorative.

It is good to soak the lids in boiling water. The world won't stop if you just hold new lids under a hot tap for 30 seconds, but if you are reusing lids, you should probably keep them in boiling water. This has more to do with softening the rubber seal than it does with sanitation.

Food: For water bath - non pressure canning the food must be acid- sour. This is because botulism spores can survive and grow in the absence of air and in a non-acid environment. Pressure canning kills the spores, and makes it safe to can non acid foods.

So there you go.  If you have questions, put them in the comments section and I'll give you an answer, and even try to make it right.  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ward Christmas Party Chicken Slaughter

(This was actually written about December 20, 2011, so if it seems a little dated, it is.)

Got your attention?  It's not exactly bait and switch title, but close.  There was a chicken massacre before the Ward Christmas party, but I don't know where or when it actually took place, a chicken gulag somewhere.  I use a little more care when I volunteer offhandedly to help with Ward parties.  I spoke at the wrong time to the wrong person (R.S. President) and before I knew it (seriously - in 3 minutes she had talked to the Bishop and changed the menu from the traditional ham to dutch oven chicken - it was official) , I was in charge of the meat for the Ward Christmas party - about 200 people.

I know there was a chicken massacre because Annie and I bought 29 trays of drumsticks, thighs and breasts in preparation.  We actually kind of lost count of the number until we went to the dump.  It got to be a blur.  Three trays (styrofoam) filled a dutch oven, so that makes 9-2/3 ovens packed with chicken.

Unfortunately, I only have two ovens of any size, and since it was pretty bitterly cold I thought it best to cook them inside - ahead of time- rather than outside on the day of the party like you might do in the summer.  We did this once before, maybe 25 years ago - and it worked out well.  I just borrowed a bunch of ovens and stacked them.

In cold weather, and especially if there is wind, it is a lot harder to get the chicken done to falling-off-the-bone tender.  If you'll pardon the expression, I chickened out.  The sequence went like this: I packed one dutch oven with chicken parts, cooked it, put a new dutch oven in the big oven.  Put the hot one outside to cool, deboned the chicken, made gravy from the juice, packed meat and gravy in a 1 gallon ziplock and repacked the oven with raw chicken, put the new hot one outside.......lather-rinse-repeat.  It took a couple of days to get them all done, and then it was time to thaw the bags of chicken and gravy.  But, you can feed a big family or small army with dutch ovens.  The more the merrier. In the end we fed the ward and there was some left over.

It was a long introduction, but what I really wanted to post about was the left-overs.  We had two big dutch ovens, and three of our biggest Farberware kettles full of de-boned chicken when the party started.  When it ended, there was probably almost 2 gallons of chicken still in one kettle.  I tried to get everyone to take some home, but they were surprisingly reluctant and in the end we took it home.  In addition to the cooked chicken, there was the bones.  29 trays of chicken will create a bunch of bones - our turkey roaster was crammed-jammed full of them.  I could barely get the lid on.  The first boiling gave us about 8 quarts of rich broth.  What to do with all of this good food?!  Our freezer is pretty well full, and needs to be defrosted anyway, so freezing it would probably work, but it is a lot of work.

Last night I brought in two of the kettles and stuffed 7 quarts full of chicken and broth, and after about an hour of  gentle heating in hot water, I pressure canned them.  I'm not sure how much there will be in the end.  I'm sure that there is another 7 quarts that will be ready to go tonight, and then I will boil the bones one more time, and I think I will get at least one more 7 quart batch.

I guess that the reason for this post is to illustrate that food is available for storage when you least expect it.  Since we had the ward dinner and ended up with the left-over chicken and all the bones and broth, we found that a friend in our ward has a contact at one of the local grocery stores and gets ripe-to-over-ripe fruits and vegetables on a routine basis.  Sometimes she calls us at about 8 pm - you are not really thinking about food storage at that time of night.  We go over and she has a wide variety if produce in anywhere from good-but-ripe, to cut-out-the-bruise to hmmmm-this-should-go-on-the-garden condition.  It's not likely that you will be able to get access to the cast-off's of your local store, but the point is that you don't have to buy everything at full price.  When corn is 10-for-$1, it's time to bottle/freeze corn.  Do the strawberries look a little ripe?  You might be able to strike a deal, especially at a stand or smaller store.

Note: In the end we had 18 quarts of chicken and broth.