"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Salad...

Lately I have been contemplating a question we are often asked. How can we possibly consume all of the food that we grow? The answer is really quite simple...a salad. Take away the grocery store and the fact that the majority (not all) of our diet is vegetarian in nature, we prefer the term healthy opportunists, and you will find us making each and every meal out of those things that we have spent the warm months growing and the cold months maintaining.

Most evenings find us creating a salad that varies in nature depending upon what is available to us from the garden and root cellar, this is normally our main course often served with side dishes such as bread, eggs, soup, etc. How can a salad be the main course of any meal one might ask? Well, our salads are not just salads but full meals comprised of numerous ingredients such as squash, potatoes, greens, cabbage, beans, seeds, fruits, berries, and anything else we care to throw at them.

For example, last night's salad consisted of:

Grated root veggies
1 1/2 beets
5 small carrots
1 turnip
2 sunchokes
1 celeriac root
3 parsnips
1/2 cup squash
1/2 cup kohlrabi

kale (various)
Swiss chard
turnip greens

flax seeds
diced onions
diced leek greens
dried tomatoes (so good)
diced apples
dried peppers

This was served with grilled cheese & onion sandwiches and tomato soup. The only ingredients not from our garden were cheese and some components of the salad dressing...and a dab of butter. We always make enough salad so that we can also have it for breakfast, usually with a few eggs or fried potatoes on top. We like to mix it up a lot by adding things like salmon, sauerkraut, various fruits, berries, nuts and surprisingly find that this meal not only suites us nutritionally but, with continuously differing combinations, still enthralls us with its menagerie of flavors. In the summer, when more fresh produce is available from our garden, we might have over 40 different ingredients in each salad, that's when it really becomes fun, and things like fresh berries can make any salad delicious.

In thinking about the fact that we eat a similar type of salad every night and most mornings (we normally don't eat lunch) close to 365 days a year that is one whole heck of a lot of vegetables and greens that we need to not only grow but also store and preserve. All of these same foods comprise a good percentage of our chickens diet as well, especially in the winter. Simple food for simple people.

The puppy? Yesterday, after visiting with Mrs. H's parents we stopped on our way back home to take Rowdy for a walk along a trail next to the river and were soon beset upon by a troop of Catholic school girls led by a friendly young nun who upon seeing our little angel-eyed puppy could not resist but to ask if her girls could pet him. Rowdy was in heaven as each girl patted his head and told him what precious little puppy he was. Were he a more vocal dog I'm sure he would have squealed in delight.:)


Michelle said...

With the huge variety of vegetables that you grow I imagine that you never make the same salad twice. You couldn't possibly get bored.It all looks so delicious, and so healthy!

Heiko said...

Now tell me something, Mike: with all that raw food do you fart a lot? No seriously it sounds delicious and wholesome. We should eat more raw. Everytime we do, I realise how delicious so many foods are au naturel. Our wild herbs are starting to grow again after only a short winter break, so we'll be eating many wild salads.

I can see your puppy enjoying all that attention. Hope Junior wasn't jealous to share him.

It's me ...Mavis said...

My first thought was... I cannot believe this all comes from your basement...(I know it does) but it really is quite amazing. Can you imagine if everyone ate like this... what a healthier society we would become...Health care would probably be cut but 75%...no more obesity...

Oh course we all know the reason why more people don't raise this much food...because it's a lot of work (good work in my opinion)
...and they don't see the hidden benefits of it... especially the calm and peace one feels when planting...or harvesting...or slowing down to cook/prepare a meal...it's not all about the food... it's about enjoying the process...it's kinda hard to get that from a frozen box of lean cuisine.

Have a happy day Mr. & Mrs. H... you inspire me with each and every post :)

Stefaneener said...

Lucky Rowdy!
I was thinking while reading this that you must get tired -- and then I saw the crank grater. Good idea if you're going to eat like this!
Makes me want to go out and um, encourage the lettuce to grow faster. I don't enjoy kale raw, unfortunately. You do eat well.

kelli said...

i'd fit right in your household! =) everything looks great!

Mrs. Mac said...

Amazingly good looking (and I'm sure tasting) food. You give me inspiration beyond words. What time is dinner?:)

GetSoiled said...

What can I say? You are the only person I have ever known to throw more things in a salad than I do! Inspiring!

One of my husband's coworkers met me the other day for the first time and he said "Your husband eats the most colorful food I have ever seen!" Being a meat and potatoes man (nothing wrong with that) I think by colorful he meant "odd."

Also, you guys are the only people who publicly will admit to having salad or beans for breakfast...when I do share that info with people they invariably give me "the look" and that is followed with a polite "Oh, is that a South American custom?"

I say hoorray for your colorful food!

Ruth Trowbridge said...

Beautifully said, this diet would save the world. I believe it has saved mine. I use that kind of grater too and my salads are grated as well. Lettuce is a vegetable we only get a couple of weeks per year. Great post Mr. H! peace

You Can Call Me Jane said...

Very inspiring, indeed. We must find a way to enjoy more fresh veggies like this throughout the winter. I'm SURE you have tried this, but topping greens with warm, cubed, roasted sweet potatoes and a drizzle of cider vinegar is divine.

*I* feel like the little puppy following you all around, sniffing at everything (okay, well, not everything) you do and touch. I have not found very many sites that I truly enjoy learning from, but yours in one.


Silke Powers said...

Wow, that looks delicious!! Although I find I have a hard time eating raw and cold foods during the winter. My body type doesn't seem to like it. I need to eat warm things, so I find I eat more cooked and roasted veggies during those months, and soups and stews.

I'm glad your puppy is getting so much attention!! I find there's nothing quite as uplifting as a happy puppy!! :) Silke

P.S. Thanks for your kind comments on my latest painting!!

Sylvie said...

Mr. H.

what a brilliant salad - both figuratively and literally. How fun! How inspiring!

I am curious: do you cook the winter squash (you wrote squash - I am assuming it's winter squash)? the parsnip? or do you grate them raw? I have only eaten those veggies cooked and just wonder...

Dried cherry tomatoes is one of my absolute favorite toppings for salads. Must do more next year...

Jennifer Jo said...

Thank you for answering my question in such detail. The pictures help. I guess when you are fully using ONLY what you grow, you really need to grow a huge variety of food in order to keep the palate interested. Makes sense.

But I'm still impressed.

Anonymous said...

I have discovered your blog recently and it’s been a pleasure to read it.

Great selection of food for your salad in these cold winter months.

Mr. H. said...

Michelle - It is incredible how many variations of salad one can make if the ingredients are available. We cooked up some fava beans to go on tonight's salad and I am really looking forward to that.

Heiko - Believe it or not that has not been an issue, perhaps our bodies have adapted to this diet. The wild salads, you know the ones with dandelions and such...now those are the real nutritional powerhouses.

Junior has not been with us of late so we have had the puppy all to ourselves...all my socks are getting holes in them.:)

Mavis - Every one of those greens came from outside under our row covers and all the other veggies came from the cellar.

Like you said, slowing down enough to enjoy the process is what it is all about...it's to bad that so many people are so very far removed from their food, in every sense. I agree with your thoughts on health care.

Stephaneener - The crank grater is a life saver, although I am getting pretty fast with a knife. I just wish I could find replacement parts for it, I don't think they sell them anymore.

Just last night I was out encouraging my lettuce to pick up the pace a bit...

Kelli - We were just talking about your zucchini pasta dish and are looking forward to trying it this year...as soon as we have some zucs. Aren't veggies great!

Mrs. Mac - We eat late, a bad habit that we need to work on. It won't be long before both our gardens are once again full of of delicious foods. I'm starting to count down the days.:) Thanks for the nice comments.

Ruralrose - Believe me Ruralrose, these foods have definitely saved us as well. I look back on how I ate not that many years ago and cringe at the thought.

ThyHandHathProvided - Warm sweet potatoes over a salad would indeed be divine. I need to try growing sweet potatoes again, we did the year before last and had mediocre results...but they were so good.

I enjoy your site as well, if you hear someone sniffing around it, trying to learn new things, it's just me.:)

Silke - We also eat an awful lot of soup and warm bread during the winter months. Some of our favorite salads are served with warm toppings...like potatoes and eggs.

The puppy is doing great but could use some lessons from Winslow on how to get along with cats.:)

Sylvie - Thank you! Sometimes we cube the squash and fry it in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar but more often than not we simply cut and grate it raw with the other veggies. We have been using both winter squash and sugar pie pumpkins (they store well for us).

What salad could be complete without a tomato in some form or another...we dried a lot this past year to make up for 2008's lack of tomatoes.

Mama JJ - Thanks for giving me something to write about.:) You can see why we grow such a diverse and sometimes unusual variety of foods...as you said, to keep the palate happy. Last night we had morel mushroom and onion bruschetta with our salad...now that was good.

Vrtlarcia - Thanks for stopping by, I have also recently discovered your blog and am very much looking forward to reading more about your gardening adventures in Croatia.

Roasted Garlicious said...

mmmm u made my mouth water!!! as for puppy... such a good decision...

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

It was good, it is always good when it's homegrown though...to much work for it not to be.

It is my wifes turn to stand out in the cold this morning waiting for puppy to poo...

kitsapFG said...

Beautiful and creative salad making! I have gotten out of the habit of making grated veggie salads and need to go back to that more often - if nothing else for more visual interest and greater ingredient options.

I am particularly fond of chop salads myself - particularly southwest flavors (peppers, onions, corn kernals, cooked dried beans, tomatoes, and some fresh cilantro chopped up) Yum!

Ayak said...

I love grated root vegetables. Your grater looks really efficient. I'm wondering if I can find a similar one here.
And your salads look and sound delicious.

Sharon said...

I found your site quite by accident when I googled "kimchi recipe" about two months ago. My sisters & I had enjoyed "fresh" kimchi in a Chinese restaurant and I loved it so had to try my hand at making it. The results were great, following your directions but I did not ferment mine. It kept quite well in the fridge and I used it all up in about a month and am now working on eating up my second batch. Yummy!
You take gardening, storing, etc. to a whole new level. I love your wealth of information and all that you share on this site..... amazing! Thank you!

Hopewell said...

Looks and sounds delicious! I love Northern Idaho though I haven't been there since the mid-80s. Enviable life you have!

Mr. H. said...


I must agree that a salad can be quite a very visual experience when you begin to add all of the colors of the garden. I love to add fresh corn to a salad as well, unfortunately the window of opportunity for that is small.

Mr. H. said...


Our grater is very efficient, unfortunately I can't seem to find replacement attachments for it anywhere and ours are becoming a bit dull. I hope you can find one because it does work well.

Mr. H. said...


I'm very happy to hear that the kimchi turned out for you. We are looking forward to making some more next fall and even have plans for better/newer varieties of napa cabbage in the garden.

Thanks for visiting our site and for your comments.


Mr. H. said...


Northern Idaho is still a very remarkable place but has changed a lot since the mid 80's in that many more people live here now...I hope it does not change too much.

A Farmstead Pilgrimage... said...

Hi Mr. H,

VERY Nice!!!

We seem to be of similar minds in our diet/meals, thoughts & ways of daily living. Have I mentioned that before?? {grin}

Simple, healthy, and HomeGrown!

The best!

Love Rowdy! What a cutie!!

Best Wishes!

Jennifer Jo said...

Hey there! I gave you a friendly head nod/award-but-without-the-award on my blog this afternoon. Come and get it!

wendy said...

Oh, my mouth is totally watering from your yummy salad. My favorite salad is with hot pasta on top...Have you tried that?
Anyway, I don't know what brand your grater is but because I get catalogs that sell to a lot of Amish I've seen a tool close to yours. There's one on e-bay here http://cgi.ebay.com/MASTER-KUT-VEGETABLE-CHEESE-SHREDDER-CUTTER_W0QQitemZ150405218164QQcmdZViewItemQQptZSmall_Kitchen_Appliances_US?hash=item2304d97f74
or you can request this catalog (just like you use to do before computers...with a letter.lol.) that has the same thing for $50 cheaper. Shetler's Wholesale Co., P.O. Box 8, Geneva, IN 46740...Maybe they'll have parts...Good luck and happy basement gardening oh and pat the pup for me.

Mr. H. said...


Yes, a simple yet rewarding life. I can see from your garden, posts on food, beliefs, and the places you hike that we do indeed have many similarities with you.

Rowdy is growing like a weed.:)

Mr. H. said...


I have tried salad with hot pasta before and did like it..a lot. Honestly, I had forgotten all about it and should have some that way again soon.

Thanks so much for the links and catalogue address, I will check them out. I did give the puppy a pat on the head for you.:)

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Wow Mike what awesome veggies!!! I love root veggies and am mad that I didn't get them in for the fall. My "next years" list has plans for plenty of winter root veggies and I'm totally excited!!!

Mr. H. said...


I am looking forward to hearing about your 2010 garden, and the root veggies. They are some of my favorite vegetables for sure.

Silke Powers said...

Mr. H., thanks for your comment on my blog! You made me chuckle - if you made you clothes at the speed at which I am knitting this sweater, you'd be very cold indeed... Hope you are all doing well, puppy included!! Hi to Mrs. H! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Thanks Silke!

Robbyn said...

Wow, now THAT's a salad! You're inspiring us...again :)

Erin said...

Oooh so much inspiration here. Loving your blog. I appreciate the gentle approach you have and the ease which you describe and show it.

Mr. H. said...


Thank you so much for your kind comments. I find your blog to be very inspirational as well.

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