Modern Homesteading Skills Are They A Thing Of The Past
I’m starting to wonder if modern homesteading skills are a thing of the past. I get emails asking me to teach their neighbors how to cook and bake. By now you probably know I live in Southern Utah, and I’m not sure if you are aware of a predominant religion in the state of Utah. I’m not sure they have the most members, but if someone says Utah, people typically think of the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), The Tabernacle Choir, and possibly Polygamy.
Not everyone asks, but once when I got my hair cut in California my hair stylist asked me if I was a member of The Tabernacle choir because I was from Utah. Of course, I got the giggles and said no I was not in the choir. Please keep in mind I do not talk about religion or politics on my website, but today I felt the need to address certain things.
Someone sent me an email today and asked if I would be willing to teach some modern homesteading skills to families in her neighborhood. She was anxious to teach them to be self-reliant and learn to cook from scratch. She mentioned she was a preparedness leader in her local Mormon church congregation.
We talked about the new Mormon Church program to help people learn skills to take care of themselves and not depend on others to feed them, clothe them, and cover housing needs, etc.
Should We Not Store Wheat?
I had recently read on Facebook that the Mormon church had suggested families no longer need to store wheat. They suggest storing food for emergencies, but now realize most people do not know how to use a wheat grinder, or may not have access to grind wheat in order to make freshly ground whole wheat bread. Yes, I can hear some of you say, well, we have gluten issues and can’t eat regular bread. That is so sad, I feel bad for those who cannot eat any bread.
I quote: “The Church has announced plans to supply families and community agencies with “finished goods” such as pasta, pancake mix, and flour—rather than raw wheat, which can be difficult to process at home.”
The reason I want to address this topic of self-reliance, cooking, baking, or whatever, is because I have people asking me all the time to help their neighborhoods learn to cook at home. I’m not talking about just baking bread, all though I would struggle with my tight budget if I didn’t make bread. I’ve made bread for over 50 years, so it’s a way of life for me.
Do People No Longer Want To Can/Preserve Food?
Today, my friend Kathleen mentioned that people no longer want to preserve their own food by canning or dehydrating it. They want to buy it at the grocery store already processed and ready to open with a can opener.
Do People No Longer Want To Bake Bread?
My friend, Melissa Richardson who wrote the book on The Art Of Baking With Natural Yeast said, they would walk right past her in Costco (she was selling her book at a Costco Roadshow), they wanted bread already made in a bag.
Modern Homesteading Skills
I need your help today, why is it that we are seeing fewer people cooking from scratch? Or are we, am I wrong? Can you help me understand this new generation of people? These are the skills I grew up with, what about you?
I grew up taking sewing classes and sewed almost all of my clothes. I also made the clothes for my kids when they were young and were excited to wear something new to school, church, and playtime. Now it seems it’s cheaper to buy them at the thrift store, Target or get items at reduced prices on clearance at several stores. I can’t imagine not having a needle and thread to mend an item or use my sewing machine to alter clothes.
Cooking from Scratch
Sometimes I think we take for granted that we can make a white sauce. yes, a simple white sauce. A reader sent me an email today with her lemon sauce recipe. I can’t wait to share it with you. You drizzle it over bread pudding or cakes. It sounds fabulous. I vaguely remember my mom making a lemon sauce. Let me share my white sauce while I’m thinking about it. If we cook from scratch we will not only save money but we know what is in our food. Someone told me it’s cheaper to pick up food at a hamburger drive-through, WHAT? Yes, that’s what someone told me. If that’s the case, something is REALLY wrong with our society. Please tell me what you think, I love to hear from you.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 gallon of milk
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Sugar optional
Melt the butter, add the flour and quickly start whisking it. This makes a roux. Once it's smooth and thoroughly mixed, add the milk and keep on whisking, until smooth. This is good for making mac and cheese, Cream Chipped Beef and even gravy.
When Mark and I raised our family we had a huge garden and produced much of the food we needed for the year. Or at least fruits and vegetables. As a family, we lined the jars up, washed the fruit, and vegetables and would can all summer. It is so awesome to see all those jars lined up on wooden shelves. Plus, it taught my girls to work. Good times were had when we opened a jar of salsa, spaghetti sauce, apple pie filling, green beans, peaches, pears, and whatever we could get from the farmers. There’s nothing as good as canned peaches with toast for breakfast!
A couple of years ago Mark and I actually took an advanced canning class, so we are now Master Canner, Preserver members. We took all the classes from the USU Extension Service that follows the USDA guidelines. It was awesome, and we learned a few new things. I highly recommend anyone interested should check out their state extension service.
These are my favorite canning and preserving tools:
I’m going to share two bread recipes that make two loaves. If you have fresh ingredients you can make bread, I promise.
No-Fail White Bread
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 tsp. SAF instant yeast
- 2 tsp. dough enhancer (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup oil-I use olive oil
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 to 3-1/2 cups white bread flour
I start with a Bosch bread mixer, although you could make this in a bowl. I put the yeast, warm water, salt, oil, and sugar in the bowl. I then add the eggs and lightly mix it in the Bosch so the egg does not “cook”. Then I add the warm milk and flour slowly. I continue to add flour until the bread dough pulls away from the sides of the Bosch bowl. I knead for about 7-8 minutes. I place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. I let the dough rise until double the original size. I punch down the dough and make into loaves and place these in greased pans (this recipe makes two-1 pound loaves). I let it rise once again (using the same plastic wrap) until it doubles in size and then I bake them at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes. I lightly butter the tops of each loaf after baking and removed from the pans.
HOW TO MAKE SCONES
I start with a very large skillet and heat the oil one to two inches deep until I can spritz a few drops of water into the oil ever so carefully, then I know it's hot enough. You will start with one ball of dough about the size of a tennis ball, maybe a little smaller, but bigger than a golf ball. Then mash the dough with the palm of your hand on a greased countertop and use a rolling pin to roll the dough from the center out. You keep rolling from the center out until they are very thin.
Then place them in the hot oil really carefully because the oil will splatter. Here's the deal, it's a big mess, but I'm talking about memories right now. Adults and kids always love hot scones. You fry them until they are golden brown, and turn them over to cook the other side until that side is golden brown too.
No-Fail Whole Wheat Bread
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup or so of honey
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon SAF instant yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon dough enhancer
- 1/2 tablespoon wheat gluten
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups whole wheat flour
Start adding the ingredients in the order shown above with one exception into your mixing bowl…start with 2 cups of flour and slowly add more flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I use a Bosch Mixer. I grew up making bread without a mixer. It can be done by hand. I grew up letting my bread rise twice so I still do that. Old habits are hard to break!
I mix it for 10 minutes in my Bosch. Cover with greased plastic wrap until it doubles in size. Punch down and form dough into two one-pound loaves. I let the dough rise one more time with greased plastic wrap. Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 27-30 minutes. If your pans are larger you will bake your bread longer. You will love making whole wheat bread, I promise!!
Planting a Garden
There is nothing better than freshly picked tomatoes and other vegetables from our gardens. We must learn to grow a garden, plant the seeds or plants, harvest what we reap, and preserve it. I’m going to be showing how to plant different vegetables every month. I recently did potatoes, if you missed it. Growing Potatoes by Linda
I love love, love growing herbs and then drying them. I love natural remedies too! We need to learn about essential oils, herbs for our health, and foraging for plants that are edible. Essential Oils
I wrote an article on my favorite essential oils that may help you with some insight as to how I use them. Essential Oils by Linda
Let’s put our heads together and see how we can help our neighbors (those that may need help) learn some modern homesteading skills like cooking from scratch, making bread, and so much more. May God bless this world to learn to be self-reliant, we will ALL need to be very soon. I promise. Blessings, Linda
26 thoughts on “Modern Homesteading Skills Are They A Thing Of The Past”
I think most of the current generation has never truly had to do without. Life has been easy for them.
My son recently said, speaking of collapse “It hasn’t happened in Mema’s time then I’m not too worried about it.” (Mema is 88 and still going strong. She was born in 1930 at the beginning of the depression.) While I didn’t chastise such folly I did ask him to reconsider his position. When his dad had a massive heart attack and was off work for 6 months the only thing I had to purchase was fresh milk, fruits and veggies. The rest was food storage that I learned from my Mormon friend. EVERYTHING was made from scratch.
I am NOT very good at gardening but hope to improve this skill
Hi Karen, I think you are so right. Kudos to you that you were prepared with food storage when your husband was off work for six months. My biggest concern is that so many people will not know how to cook from scratch on a dime so to speak. The families receive food stamps in my community and some take it for granted. Some neighbors have been on them for 15 years and have no intention of getting off of them. They “play the system” for low-income rent and food stamps. I know there is a need for food stamps for a short period of time but in Southern Utah, it seems to be a way of life. If we keep gardening we will learn something each year that we will or will not do next year. Great comment, Linda
I love your blog one summer I did what we called survival school with my grandkids where we made bread from scratch we learned how to dry food we harvested food from the garden we learned how to make a fire it was really fun and i kept it fun so they wouldnt get bored with it.
Hi Arlene, oh I love this comment! I bet your grandkids had a great time and made memories at the same time! Good job! Linda
Linda, I share your concerns and have another to add. I work for a state land grant University Extension service. Last month I received an email about the need to rethink our programs and especially club based 4-H programs so that we move toward meeting the needs of contemporary youth. They no longer see value in the life skills that 4-H youth are taught at the local level. They want to move toward a virtual Extension so that local county offices are no longer needed. How do you teach bread making virtually? How important is touch; how important is learning the economics of bread making or sewing; how do you teach taste virtually? Yes 4-H is “more than cookin’ and cows” – much, much more. I am very frustrated with academia who lack the knowledge of real people in a real world. A whole generation of folks do not know how to cook and when local county offices offer after school cooking classes, there is ALWAYS a waiting list. Keep on spreading the word, Linda.
Hi Debbie, boy did you nail it! I totally agree with your comment! Do you sometimes wish you could shout from the rooftops “there is always a waiting list for after-school cooking classes”!!!! There is something about kneading the bread dough with someone alongside you to teach you this skill. I’m frustrated by the lack of real-life classes as well. May God bless this world when we have a grid down and we will. Great comment, Linda
I recently taught my 3 grandchildren (4, 5 1/2, and 7) how to make homemade butter and bread. We made the bread in a bag (helps keep the mess contained!!). They were AMAZED and really enjoyed their own bread and butter for snacks. We also used the buttermilk in mini chocolate cakes – I did this to show that even though not all of the cream became butter, there was no waste!
Leanne, what great memories those grandkids have! Your rock! Linda
I am NOT trying to sound sexist here but I find there is a certain kind of joy & contentment with working along side other women whether it’s gardening, canning, sewing (quilting bee anyone?). The work seems to go by faster & the conversation flows, generations are spanned & the laughter is real. I teach skills to my grandson as well just like my son taught the girls car maintenance but I really treasure my girl-time!
Hi Linda, oh I LOVE your comment! Here’s the deal I truly believe girls need girls, and women need women. It never gets old when we get together to garden, to sew, quilt, and even have a cookie exchange. The laughter is music to my ears and my soul! Great comment! Linda
I don’t see that as sexist at all. I think kids need to spend time with both men and women and people of different ages. But they need someone to spend time with them and provide that attention. It helps them to really understand other people and to see themselves as part of the cycle of life and aging. When I was a kid, I was around adults a lot but I also enjoyed being with kids my own age as well. In my case, I was closer to my mother and my male friends are more easy going types who are not prone to macho posturing. Being a Marine dependent was probably why I leaned towards those types of friends.
I think kids need both good male and female role models to learn how to relate to both sexes and to feel valued and learn how to be strong yet compassionate.
And when we have good male role models and a nice balance of bonding to moms’s and dad’s, they learn not to fear or resent, but to appreciate each other, adults, parents, and people as a whole.
Hi Frank, you are so wise and full of wisdom. I always love your thoughtful remarks. Good men are hard to come by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Linda
Very well said, Frank!
I was raised in a home where my mother had a huge garden and learned to can, freeze, from her. I still cook from scratch, make all my jams and sauces. I am teaching my grandchildren to cook and sew. When my girls were growing up we very rarely went to a fast food place To eat. Love home cooking.
Hi Louise, I hear you on the rarely going to fast food places for a meal when I was younger. I’m so glad to hear you are teaching your grandchildren to cook and sew, talks about wonderful skills and memories! I love eating at home and having people over for a simple meal. Great comment, Linda
I know many think of people as lazy and spoiled by the modern conveniences we have today and while there might be some truth in that, I think the problem stems mostly from how society has put an emphasis on earning money and using time more efficiently. Earning money is fine, but I feel that working with our hands and doing those “mundane daily tasks” are therapeutic and necessary therefore not a waste of time. Cooking, washing, cleaning, etc., are skills that we learn. But the trend is to pay someone else to do those things so we can be free to work or take time off.
Now many see making pizza as a luxury and not a good use of their time unless they are working in a pizzeria. Or we relegate craftsmanship to artistic expression and for making art rather than as a viable, useful everyday skill. And thus we all miss out on learning how to make or repair things for ourselves.
For many of us with the D.I.Y point of view, working in an office, as a slave to the clock and electronic communication is less of a life then embracing and appreciating the value of living and taking care of ourselves. Nobody ever developed stress related problems from sewing a hem, sharpening a knife by hand or baking a tray of muffins. We need to live moment by moment because we’ll never beat the clock or outlive ourselves and money isn’t as dependable as our own two hands.
OH, Frank, I have chills after reading your comment, I love it! It’s so funny because I love making bread, making homemade pizza and sewing gifts for people. You nailed it today, my friend! I really love your comment about “money isn’t as dependable as our own two hands,” talk about a powerful statement! You rock! Linda
I love convenience foods but I wanted to be more independent of the grocery store so I’ve been learning to make my own. So far so good. I haven’t bought a commercially prepared pizza or a frozen one from the store since I found your pizza crust in a jar recipe. It is so easy and good! My husband likes it better than what we used to have.
One think I have found is that not all homemade ways of doing things are cost effective but the skills are all worth having and practicing.
HO JoEllen, you made my day, I’m so glad you love my pizza recipe in a jar. It is true we may not always save money making it from scratch, but the joy of working with my hands and not having to go to the store means a lot to me. Linda
Ah – my life history!! I grew up on a cattle ranch so we were never without plenty of meat in the freezer. We also raised hogs and chickens and at one time, rabbits. We had eggs and bacon and fried chicken. I remember how to process chickens and rabbits but Dad didn’t think we girls needed to be in on the slaughtering of the cows and pigs. So, I don’t know if I could shoot one and then do the butchering. We raised a large garden and put up the results. I lived in an area of high fruit production as well and we canned fruit each year.
When I got married in 1983, friends asked me what we wanted for a wedding gift. I said I wanted canning equipment. I was gifted a water bath canner, pressure canner and all of the accoutrements needed to can including 10 or 12 cases of quart/pint jars. Boy, I went to town on that! I was living in the midwest at the time and I was able to get corn and beans by the bushel. My husband and I also grew a large garden. I canned to my heart’s content. My husband worked nights and most nights he came home to a dining room table covered in jars of whatever I canned that evening! I grew a lot of tomatoes and if it was made from tomatoes, I canned it: chili sauce, salsa, ketchup, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, you name it. I also pickled my cucumbers and made relishes as well. My pantry was FULL.
When my daughter was little, I was still canning everything I could even though I was working a full-time job. She grew up canning.
Now that she has a family, she is learning how important it is to put up her own food without preservatives. She bakes her own bread and cooks just about everything from scratch. I am proud of her for doing this. I feel as though I raised her right.
Oh, Leanne, oh my gosh, what an accomplishment raising a daughter to follow in your footsteps. I loved how you mentioned what you canned, isn’t it the best thing on earth to see all those jars lined up on the walls?? I canned made Ketchup, you are one up on me! I love it! I love this comment, thank you for sharing! Linda
I love everyone’s comments, they are all right on the mark. In today’s world kids can barely
write, everything is on the computer. Gardening and baking is more of a History lesson for these kids.
We need to “shake them up a little” have 2 weeks with no fast food, no cell phones, and very little TV.
Have Family dinners that is homemade ( with more of it is home grown). They have no idea how good
home canned green beans are or home canned tomatoes, they only know the items that come from a
can not a jar.
Like I have said before I work at a convenience store and the “junk” I see people buy it is amazing. Parents let their kids pick out what they want and when they come up to me at the register
I want to ask them what is wrong with them. Spending $20 to $30 a morning because they don’t have
time for their kids to eat at home. They get donuts and Starbucks in a bottle, the drink alone is over 3.00. Linda I am like you I don’t understand this mess. I hate it when I buy a sandwich for 2.81. Now
I will admit I do go out for meals but not very often and we use gift cards but I would rather have a
Peanut Butter sandwich at home than to eat out all the time. I love to cook and always have. My mom and grandma cooked all our meals and both had a garden. Mom and Dad worked 8 hour days,
came home mom fixed supper , then her and dad headed out to the garden to work till dark
some times. Mom also made all of our clothes. People in today’s world are to soft.
Hi June, did you notice I made the red velvet with your frosting recipe. Thanks again for sharing that with me. I love the stories you write about where you work and the money that is spent on food that isn’t healthy for any of us to eat. It’s too bad so many people don’t realize what’s in the food from convenience stores. Mark and I eat peanut butter and jelly/jam sandwiches all the time, it’s a way of life for us. Your comments are always real and no-nonsense. Thanks again for your great comments with stories, they mean a lot to me. Keep up the good work June. Hugs, Linda
I am making the wheat bread and wondering if you put the yeast in the water alone first. Also, do you let the bread rise for an hour before baking it? Thanks!
Hi Trimble, I dump everything in the bowl when I’m making bread. The old-fashioned yeast we had to soak in water, not anymore. If you buy SAF Instant yeast you are good to go. I let the bread rise until double. It all depends on the temperature of the room. I’m not sure if you are making my white bread (which means I don’t dump the eggs and warm milk in all at once). The wheat bread I dump everything in (I start with half of the flour, mix and add the remaining flour). If you have any questions, please shoot me an email to email@example.com Have fun making bread! Linda
Hi Trimble, I re-read your email, with my whole wheat bread, I dump everything in the bowl with the exception of the flour. I add half of the wheat flour and add the remaining flour and continue mixing. It’s really easy, I hope this helps. Linda