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Lifelong Learning, Food for Thought

Grow, Preserve, Pickle, Cure, Brew, Do It Yourself: Homesteading in the City

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Mrs. Gus Wright, Farm Security Administration client with her canned goods, Oakland community, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941.,[Mrs. Gus Wright, an African American woman and Farm Security Administration client, sitting in a chair behind numerous rows of her canned goods, Oakland community, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941.], Digital ID 1260071, New York Public LibraryMrs. Gus Wright, Farm Security Administration client with her canned goods, Oakland community, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941. Digital ID 1260071, New York Public LibraryThe first time I made my own cheese, it was a revelation. It was so simple and easy, it was ridiculous to me that I had spent years buying it at the store like everyone else.

I wasn't making brie or cheddar or anything fancy or aged at all, just the standard fresh ricotta that usually comes in a tub in the dairy case. Making your own ricotta is only slightly more involved than brewing tea. You slowly warm up whole milk in a pot. When it gets to a certain temperature (around 185°F), take it off the heat and add acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar. Separate curds from whey, drain in a cheesecloth, and voila, your lasagna just got that much more homemade.

More and more, Americans are thinking hard about where their food comes from and whether improvements can be made from a nutritional or supply chain perspective to improve our health and the health of our environment. When you control the ingredients, you know what is going into the food you eat. Author Michael Pollan says we should "eat food," as in food our great-great-grandmothers would recognize and not products filled with unknown preservatives and shelf-stabilizers.

I have been experimenting with quick pickles, mayonnaise, sauces, granola, candies and other basic recipes for a while now. You don't necessarily have to invest in equipment or hard-to-find ingredients in order to get some satisfaction from DIYing your fruit, veggies, dairy, condiments, drinks, or sweets. The extra effort can pay off in many ways.

Browse this list, or the library shelves in the 630s and 640s. Just look for an easy project that catches your interest; whether or not you decide to raise chickens in your backyard, it might surprise you how easy it can be to make homemade fruit roll ups...

Urban Farming

Foraging

Check with the proper authorities before you start foraging in your local park! "Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, but Not as Salad" The New York Times, July 29, 2011.

Pickles and Preserves

Fermentation

Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt

Drying

Homebrewing

To make small beer, Digital ID 2015204, New York Public LibraryTo make small beer, Digital ID 2015204, New York Public LibraryIf you need more beer inspiration, try George Washington's recipe... or not.

Livestock

Before you question the inclusion of bees and chickens here... I live in Brooklyn and I know for a fact both are being raised in my neighborhood!

General DIY/Homesteading Resources

A "demonstration team"... 4-H fair... canning their farm products, October 1921 , Digital ID 464359, New York Public LibraryA "demonstration team"... 4-H fair... canning their farm products, October 1921 , Digital ID 464359, New York Public LibraryCheck out this list in BiblioCommons: Grow, Preserve, Pickle, Cure, Brew, Do It Yourself. Have you grown or preserved anything interesting lately? I don't have much in the way of websites listed here, but there are many. Which informational websites do you read and recommend?

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This is a very cheesy blog !!

This is a very cheesy blog !! (Get it ?) Making your own cheese at home is waaaaay better than playing farmville...control your food destiny.

I agree! :)

I agree! :)

Just added two new

Just added two new acquisitions to the list: <a href="http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/search?t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=Food%20in%20Jars%20Preserving%20in%20Small%20Batches%20Year-Round"><em>Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round</em></a><br />and<br /><a href="http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/search?t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=Fishers,%20Foragers,%20Butchers,%20Farmers,%20Poultry%20Minders"><em>Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York</em></a>

another new addition:

another new addition: <a href="http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/19647910052_preserving"><em>Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons</em></a>

Just added True Brews: How to

Just added <a href="http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/19810145052">True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Beer, Wine, Cider, Sake, Soda, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home</a>

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