Historical Homemaking – part 1: wastefulness.

“This was the land of the buffalo.  One day a herd came in our direction . . . Two were shot and the humps and tongues furnished us with fine fresh meat . . . The large bone of the hind leg, after being stripped of the flesh, was buried in coals of buffalo chips and in an hour the baked marrow was served.  I have never tasted such a rich, delicious food!  One family jerked some of the hump and when rations were low it came in very handy.  In spite of having hung in the Alkali dust and being rather shriveled looking, it was relished, for when hunger stares one in the face, one isn’t particular about trifles.”

-excerpt from the book Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey (click on above picture for link to Amazon) by Lillian Schlissel and www.oregonpioneers.com.

I hate wasting things.  I really do.  My husband works hard to provide and is so generous that I just cringe at the thought of not making the best use of everything I’m given.  As a result, I try very hard to not let food spoil.

When the bananas start turning brown, I start looking for my favorite banana bread recipe.  When we aren’t eating the dinner rolls fast enough, they go in the freezer. When I separate 4 eggs to make hollandaise sauce I throw the leftover egg whites in with scrambled eggs or make meringue.  Egg shells and coffee grounds go into the compost bucket.  The white part of the green onions goes back in the cup of water after I’ve cut the chives to grow more chives for next time.

My husband is good at repurposing building materials; I repurpose our food.

In a recent article by NBC, studies show that American is “tossing away 40 percent of their meals – “essentially every other piece of food that crosses our path” – or the equivalent of $2,275 a year for a family of four, according to a new report.” (full article) Is that not the most pitiful thing you’ve ever heard when you consider the fact that, according to the United Nations, “about 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes”? (source)

When I contemplate that for just $35 each month, Gospel for Asia can feed, clothe and school a little girl, I realize that nothing is wasted on our sponsor child Alona George in India. I realize that I can live on less, just as well as she can, and I realize that my efforts for preserving and using the full potential of our grocery list is not futile.

The diaries of pioneer women, especially those who braved the westward journey, have always intrigued me.  So do the stories of homesteaders like those who built the original part of our home in 1932.  The hardships they faced – cooking over a fire of buffalo chips, pregnancy on the trail, child birth in a wagon, menstruation surrounded by men, keeping children safe and healthy on the plains – draws me in close to their hearts. I often wonder what my home’s “steader”, Mrs. Knopp, would think if she could peek in my windows and watch me wash clothes in my warm, automated, fully plumbed laundry room.  A smile comes to my face each time I dip the measuring cup into my homemade laundry detergent.  In the summer, I love hanging our towels on the line outside to dry just to feel a little bit more like the homemakers of the past.  Why waste electricity when God has already provided the heat and wind? Maybe she would relate to my resourcefulness and thrift – mine by choice, hers by necessity. I long to be as frugal, strong, steadfast and home-centered as she was.

I long not to waste time doing things that don’t matter as well.  I long not to waste the love and devotion my husband and I have built in our marriage by letting petty arguments steal our joy.  Ma Ingalls once said to Pa after an argument, “Time spent fighting with you is so wasted.”  I long not to waste one moment spent with my children because they grow and leave home so quickly.

“Who wants to look back . . . and wonder where those years have gone?”

-LeeAnn Womack, I Hope You Dance

We live in such a throw away culture.  From Barbie lamenting her disposal in Toy Story 3, “It’s just, I can’t believe she would throw me away!” to the over 50 million children who have been wasted via abortion in the US since 1973, we are surrounded by items deemed useless.  Mother Theresa said, ”I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things that we could use.”

Instead of throwing unwanted items away, we now take them to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for resale and support of shelter for families.  Instead of throwing food away, I do my best to either use it all or preserve it.

This week I set out to change one annoying habit of mine – wasting half of the limes that I buy bulk from Costco to dry out and rot.  I just can’t use them all before they go bad and honestly, the cost savings compared to buying them at my local grocery store justifies the waste in my mind.  But it still bothers me. So here’s what I did!

How to preserve citrus:

no. 1 – juice.

I juiced about half of them and froze the juice in an ice cube tray. After they froze, I transferred the lime juice cubes to a freezer bag. I use lime juice for things like shrimp tostadas, salsa, carnitas, salad dressing, etc, but it can also be used (as can any citrus juice) for hair and skin treatments or household cleaners.

no. 2 – wedge slices.

In the other ice cube tray, I cut wedges (I had to cut both ends off the lime before wedging it so they fit in the tray). After they froze, I transferred them to a freezer bag. I will add these to ice water, tea, or as a garnish fish, rice, tacos, etc.

no. 3 – spiral slices.

I pinwheel sliced 4 limes and froze them flat on a plate (to prevent them from freezing/sticking together) then put them in a bag for freezer storage. I will use these to float in a pitcher or beverage jar of iced water, lemonade, or tea. They’re really pretty!

no. 4 – dried peels.

While you could also peel or zest the limes, I am partial to lemons so I decided to dry my lime peels. When dried, they make great fire starters/kindling and can also be used for potpourri.

Remember that God gives us everything we need, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to use up every last bit of it. Sometimes that’s when we find the greatest fulfillment in His blessings: when we use up all that He’s given us to it’s fullest potential. I encourage you to find things to preserve this week, be it a veggie, an old piece of furniture, or a moment spent together, all the while thanking God for the wonder of His perfect provision!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my wastefulness series!


-Grandma Kiki

In what ways do you preserve food? In what ways has this post challenged you? Leave us a comment below! We always love to hear from you.

 Kim’s interest in Historical Homemaking began with Civil War Reenacting and led to selling her sundries at Farmers Markets across the Big Horn Basin. Her cookies are a local favorite and she enjoys sharing stories with her customers and giving free samples. She loves to write. Her favorite pastime is spending afternoons with her family and grand babies.
Visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/historicalhomemaking and join in the conversation!

Check out the links below to find out more from Gospel for Asia’s ministries all over the world and check out the free book No Longer A Slumdog, by K.P. Yohannan, foreword by Francis Chan.


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