What to do?

I wanted to do something but I didn’t want to be joining the hordes buying up big.

I know that was very easy for me to say.   I live on acreage and have a vegie patch.  I have this year’s summer produce in jars or in the freezer or otherwise stashed away.    I have a cupboard full of herbs and spices as I don’t buy ready-made spice mixes and sauces.  I also have dried beans and peas and various flours in the coolroom and rice in the pantry.  But this has nothing to do with being a prepper or hoarding.  This is just who I am and how I wanted to live when I retired.  I also know I am in the minority.  I don’t wish to criticise any who feel the need to stock up.  Nearly all of our population does not live as I do.  They are busy, they have to work, they live in apartments, they have kids and extended family to look after and, of course, the majority do not choose to live like me.  And … they are scared.

I am sad for my country, but I can’t bear to listen to politicians say “It is un-Australian to hoard”.  Australians are no different from anyone else in the world.  We are all people and many of us make bad decisions when stressed.  This is also true for when we shine.  During the bushfires, the same stupid politicians were telling us how Australian it was that we banded together and helped each other.  No, it wasn’t.  That is what good people do in times of hardship.  This patriotic thing has become ridiculous.  It just fuels an “us and them” mentality.

A photo was posted on Facebook of shoppers lining up to go into Coles, Armadale.  Someone had sarcastically commented “spot the Australian,”  referring to the fact that a lot of the people in the queue were not Anglo Saxon.  But, I bet, all or most were Australians or, at least,  Australian residents.  And if they weren’t, so what? 

Let us stop judging people.  I am on my community notice board in Facebook and I am sick to death of people pretending everyone else is hoarding but not them.  I have read only one comment by a person who admitted they were because they were worried we could be designated zones and trucks may not be able to bring food between zones.  What a brave, honest person.

The other day, we came back from Perth and called into the supermarket in Bridgetown to buy milk and bananas, as we always do, for the next day’s breakfast.  I bought fresh milk (for tea and coffee, etc) and long life milk to make some yoghurt (no bananas as they were over-ripe).   A woman in the shop attacked me.  She said she hoped the milk was not just for me as she didn’t want to be talking to a raider.  First of all, I didn’t ask her to talk to me and, secondly, I was doing exactly what the government has been telling us to do.  Buy as we normally do.  I was so taken aback, I didn’t respond but, geez, I wish I had let her have it.  She does not know me and has no right to judge.

I am sad that people will lose their jobs, that we all will lose a shit load of money one way or the other and that our sense of security has been temporarily taken away.  But I am not sad that this crisis may make us all take a breath and realise where this country has been heading.  We have become a country that is more about the individual than the society.  We have been using America as our role model when there are so many other countries to which we could look for guidance – the Scandanavian countries, for example.  People don’t like paying taxes (I understand that this is due in part to people not trusting the Government to spend their money wisely but that thought is for another post) but still expect welfare, a quality education system, quality health care, to be looked after in their old age, for the disabled to be looked after, for good public transport, good roads, etc.  And … to look after them, and their business, in a crisis.

So what I hope will come out of this current crisis is more understanding of community.  It is ok to pay more in tax than you get back if you are helping others in your community.  Just because you have paid your taxes all your life does not mean you have to take welfare when you are older.  Take it when you need it for sure but, until then, take 5.

I don’t lament the passing of the country that we have become.  But, of course, I am still anxious for it.  We don’t know what the human and economic consequences of this pandemic will be.

What was I to do?  I needed to do something.

I must admit when I was in Perth last week, I did semi-consciously put an extra scoop of red kidney beans in my bag, just in case … but I really have been trying to resist the urge to buy more than I normally would.

I have been thinking about what people have been buying.  One image that really stuck in my mind was a trolley carrying a carton of tinned spaghetti and a carton of baked beans.  Yucky poo!  I hope it doesn’t come to that!  In any event, I am not a prepper by nature.  I find it all very scary.  Imagine what it would be like in a famine if you had two years supply of food in your pantry and the masses were starving.  I would prefer to be out with the masses.  You would have more chance of surviving.

I decided that if we were sick or stuck here for a while, what I would want is pea and ham soup.  It has always been one of my favourite things to eat.  We have yellow split peas in the coolroom so I asked Maus to buy 3 onions, a celery and 6 carrots (Don’t worry, there is plenty of fresh veg in the shops) and 3 ham hocks. (That amount  of vegies ended up being too much for 3 jars so I had to make 4 – I wasn’t being greedy.)

I thought we may not be able to, or want to, go into town to get fresh vegies to make the soup so I would pressure can them.  I steamed the onions and carrots for 5 minutes and the celery for 3 and then pressure canned them at 11 pounds for 40 minutes.  The pressure time was more than the carrots and celery needed but it is what I have previously done for onions so I decided to pressure them that long.  Instead of adding water to the blanched vegies, I stored them in the cooking liquid so when we make the soup, we will get all that goodness.

Alas, there are no ham hocks in town so I won’t be able to have my pea and ham soup but it is a perfect base for any soup you can think of and any stew, for that matter.

I know, virtually, all of you won’t have a pressure canner but here is an idea: make some mirepoix.  “What is that?”, I hear you ask.  I had to search how to pressure can celery and I came across the word.  It is, according to jimster on the houzz website, “finely chopped, sauteed mix of carrots, onions and celery.  Mirepoix is the base for many delicious soups, sauces and braises.”

Go for it people!  Make some mirepoix, put it into little sandwich bags and freeze it.  Similar flavoured bases include the Italian soffritt (braised onions, garlic and tomato), then if you feel like a soup or a stew and can’t/don’t want to go out at a later date, you will be all set.  Just saying …  It’s certainly more appealing than tinned spaghetti. And if it doesn’t come to any of this then cooking dinner one night will be as simple as defrosting your mirepoix and adding a few bits to it. 


18 thoughts on “What to do?

  1. A shopping quandary. I’m not a prepper, well not too much… but we town shop only once every two or so weeks. The G.O. picks up the odd veg when he does his mum’s weekly shop, and we have a local village produce pick up/swap, and go to local markets. We’ve always had a sanity pantry, freezer stockpile in case of flood & bushfire. So I’m not keen to pop… 60 km roundtrip… to the shops to just grab a few limited things. We’ll make do with what we have, sufficient for a couple of weeks or more… and food prep, freezer stash, cook, eat our leftovers, etc as we do day-to-day, similarly. I had already anticipated pea and ham soup by stocking up on split peas and banking our Christmas ham bone in the freezer. But if when I shop if I’m within the legal limits and anyone wants to comment…ffs… I’ll doubt I’d be quite as restrained as you.

    • Hi again Dale. We live the good life. I was so taken aback by the total randomness the attack, I was lost for words. I know, not like me. How things have changed. One week ago nobody would have battered an eyelid at someone buying both fresh and long life milk.

  2. Well written Glenda. People understandably are scared, but for some silly reason I feel calm. My only concern is for all the young people and their jobs etc. Interesting times. I bet not much food will be wasted which will be a great thing.
    I am going to take your lead & start braising those wonderful veggies you mentioned in your post. Great idea, so thank you.
    Deb xx

  3. Great read Aunty Glen. Mum was impressed with me the other day, I had a tiny bit of chicken still in the fridge which needed to be eaten and instead of throwing it out I turned it into chicken noodle soup!
    Interesting times indeed (had to stop myself from using the politicians favourite word “unprecedented”.
    Unfortunately we all feel a bit guilty now at the checkout counter even when we genuinely need the old toilet paper. 😩
    Take care and stay healthy xxx

    • Hi Kate, interesting times, indeed. Alas, there is no toilet paper in town, lucky we have a bidet, hey? Let us all try and stay healthy. Love Aunty g

  4. Well said Glenda. As you know we have limited space in the caravan freezer, so we are just going to live off the land. Patti can chase a few rabbits and I’ll catch the fish. XX

  5. I like your mirepoix idea. I love soup, any soup, especially if it’s chock full of veggies, or lots of barley, yum.

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