Do we really eat self-sufficiently?

I continue to be asked this question: Do you really eat self-sufficiently?

It’s a fair question -- after all, I wrote the book on it. “The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers” is not a research-based book. This is how we live. We eat out off our two acres every day of the year, no matter the season. It’s not hard, it’s not time consuming, it certainly saves us huge amounts of money (I’ll be happy to compare my monthly or yearly grocery store bill to anyone’s -- I’ll win, I promise).

Someone asked me to tour their garden recently and give them some advice. While they were showing me their spread, this person said to me “It must be nice to stay home all day gardening and researching for your next book.”

Um, so wrong.

I have a full-time job (journalist for the Provo Daily Herald) and several part-time jobs (teaching writing both in person and online classes, book tour and book writing, directing writing conferences, selling pure, nonhybrid seed raised on our own property, teaching gardening and homemade yeast and self-sufficiency classes). I’m one of the few lucky people who not only gets to do exactly what I love every day (garden, write, teach) but I am also over-employed in an under-employed economy. (Don’t mistake that for well-paid. If you knew what writers get paid, you’d weep. There is a reason we are self-sufficient.)

So no, I don’t have luxuriant free time to lounge around gardening and cooking and researching books. This is just our life. I was paid one of the highest compliments of my life this week when a friend looked at me and said “You are the epitome of ‘If you need something done, ask a busy person.’ “ Made my day.

I say all of this because everyone can do something to feed themselves, no matter your schedule or where you live -- a huge farm, a couple of acres, a condo, a rented apartment. I have lived in all of these, and I have grown my own food on all of these properties to some degree. If you want to do it, you can.

So, to answer the question “Do you really eat self-sufficiently” I’m going to try to blog more often about what we are eating, to show you. And I’ll try to take some pictures, if I can remember. (It’s hard for a hungry person to remember to stop and take a photo :) Here is some of what we ate this week:

Pasta sauce:
This is what I made today. In this dish from our garden: onion, carrot, beet, tomatoes, basil, Japanese purple mustard, Swiss chard. I diced the onions, removed the stems from the mustards and chard, grated the carrot and beet and put the tomatoes whole, with all the rest, into the blender with salt for a few minutes and then put the puree on the stove on the lowest possible heat for about an hour and half. We are actually eating this tomorrow, for Sunday dinner over whole wheat pasta, so the sauce is in the fridge as we "speak".

In this dish from our property: dough made from homemade, natural yeast, sauce made from our tomatoes and basil (pureed and simmered for an hour with salt; I should have put in one of our onions, but I forgot). Also worth mentioning -- artisan cheese made locally at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, which I love!

Cream Stew:
In this stew from our garden: purple podded pole beans (dried, grown from our own seed), Contender beans (dried), white, yellow, orange and red carrots, turnip, corn.

Garden Salad:
In this salad from our garden: a gourmet lettuce blend of Rouge Grenbloise (a red lettuce), Green Jewel Romaine (grown from our own seed), Oak Leaf (light green and frilly), Marveille de Quatre Saison (bronze and green lettuce); also, orange and yellow carrots.

Toast & Eggs:
In this dish from our property: fresh eggs, toast from homemade bread made with homemade natural yeast. (Raw honey from my parents’ farm -- that deserves a mention).

Garden Soup:
In this soup from our garden: potatoes (grown from our own seed potatoes), rutabaga, swiss chard, onion, basil, carrots, tomatoes (pureed fresh). Also in this soup: lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, hamburger. No recipe. All garden soups are the same -- fill the pot about ⅔ with water, bring to boil, put in veggies, cook, season to taste. I added the chard at the last minute.

Toast (several times this week -- it’s been toast weather):
Using homemade bread baked with homemade, natural yeast, spread with an assortment of our homemade jams and jellies.

Using homemade bread baked with homemade, natural yeast, and lettuces from the garden.

The kids have been demanding these, especially Xander. Made with our fresh, free-range eggs, of course.

We have apples coming out our ears. I've given dozens away this week, and the kids gobble them up off the trees, and Charmayne makes wonderful apple crisp, and tomorrow for a treat we are having gjetost cheese over apple slices broiled for 2 minutes -- a new favorite tree that a friend introduced me to today. The broiled cheese tastes EXACTLY like caramel on the apples. So good!

Finally, we don't eat baby chicks! But I thought this photo was so great, I decided to put it up. We are really enjoying our unexpected and rare October chicks -- two broods!
Next time: Do we go to the grocery store? And for what? Thanks for reading! See you soon. -Caleb.

Good News! My book goes into third printing!

Good news: My publisher has announced that my book, "Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" will go into a third printing!

More good news: There are copies available now at Amazon.

As I mentioned in an early post, the book has been sold out at the publisher (meaning the retail stores have all the copies) for about six weeks. Many retail stores have also been sold out, although there have been copies here and there. The publisher sold 5,000 copies (wholesale to retailers) in the first five weeks, a huge success.

Three weeks after the book came out, the publisher ordered a second printing. But because the book is printed in full-color on every page, which is hugely expensive, the books are being printed in China. That second printing is now done and on a ship. Hoping to get some books into stores as soon as possible, the publisher air-freighted, at considerable expense, 500 copies. Those are now stuck in customs, but we hope they will be in Utah this week. The rest of the second printing, another 2,500 copies, will be here at Thanksgiving.

And yesterday, the publisher ordered a third printing of 4,000 copies, which will bring the total so far to 12,000. Those books will not be here until January/February I assume. (I didn’t ask).

So, here are some stats:

- After being released less than three months, the book has gone into its third printing.
- The book is a national bestseller (#5)
- The book is a regional bestseller (#1)

You can get copies now, at the Amazon link above, and by ordering online at Deseret Book, and within days they will be in Costcos and Seagulls. I think some Walmarts still have some copies.

More potentially good news: Melissa Richardson and I turned in the manuscript for our new book, a cookbook of natural yeast recipes. Hurrah!! More on that another day.

Thank you to everyone who has believed in my book, purchased it, and put it to work. It’s time to be self-sufficient. 

The photo was taken in our backyard yesterday. I finally had to put the squash into storage because we had our first hard freeze. It feels like I can rest at last after a long, delicious garden season. We also had a second batch of baby chicks born on Saturday. We now have a total of eight babies, and all are doing well, despite the cold. They have good mothers.

:) -Caleb

NYTimes: "Amazon rewrites rules of book publishing"

Some fascinating info in this story, including how Penguin sued a first-time author who published an ebook after signing a contract, and how Amazon is also signing first-time authors to their new publishing house.

My book is officially a NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

Hello all.

So, there is some news. I am a national bestselling author.

I’ve been sitting on this for more than a week because I keep waiting for someone to jump out from behind something and say “Just kidding!” But it’s real. My publisher informed me last week that my book, “Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers” hit number five IN THE NATION last week in the home and garden category, according to Nielsen BookScan, which is the national organization which keeps track of these things. National retailers report their weekly book sales to BookScan, which tabulates them and releases the a list of the top seller, according to category, each week. And I’m on the list.

So, I’m a national bestselling author.

I’m still trying to take that in. I’m so pleased, and scared, and excited, and excited and scared.

The book, by the way, is more or less sold out. The publisher sold the last copy to retailers almost three weeks ago. Retailers have been unable to order any more copies for three weeks. The first print run was 5,000 copies, and they were all sold in five weeks. A couple of weeks in, when it became clear that the book was selling swiftly, my publisher, Cedar Fort, decided to order a second print run. Problem is, because this book is printed in full color on every page -- the most expensive way to produce a book -- it is only makes sense to print the books in China. And to get them here from China, they come on a cargo ship. So the second printing will not be here until mid-November. Clearly, this is not ideal. But there is not much to be done about it. My publisher informs me that it would cost $5 per book -- per book -- to air freight them from China. They are working to find an American printer who can come close to matching the China price. If they can, they may order some to have available sooner than mid-November, but so far it is unclear whether any U.S. company can match the price.

The upshot is that the book has become hard to find. Amazon was out for a while, but they  have some now. There are some in Walmart stores here and there, and a few copies in a few Costcos. My understanding is that Deseret Book is sold out. I had no copies at all, but I found a store that had a few and bought them, so I have three copies.

My goal in writing this book was to be useful. The response to my book makes me feel like people must feel the book is useful, which makes me happy. When I sign copies, I often bid the buyer farewell by saying “Now go home and put this book to work for you.” That is my wish for everyone who gets a copy -- use it. Being more self-sufficient strengthens families. It’s time to be strong.

In other news, Dr. Guppy Tulkinghorn called the other day and said he'd like to do an interview of me for my own blog. So that will be coming soon. Should be interesting!


Listeria Deaths are "silly" to farmer

PHOTO:┬ácantaloupeHere is the latest outbreak of industrial food contamination in the U.S. 

The Associated Press reported very late on Tuesday that four people have died from an outbreak of Listeria in cantaloupes from Colorado.

"The warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came after numerous cases of a strain of Listeria were reported in six states, including at least 11 from Colorado, 10 from New Mexico, two from Texas, and one each from Indiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma," said the AP.

"The agency said it was the first Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe in the United States. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration said it had not recalled the melons while it worked to locate the source."

Um, what?

Why bother recalling them. After all, only four people have died. Right?

"This is really silly. You can get Listeria any place" is what the AP reports one of the cantaloupe farmers as saying. How comforting. To this person, a lack of food safety that killed four people is "silly."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention begs to differ. Here is their recommendation:

"Health authorities asked people throwing out Rocky Ford cantaloupes to put them in a sealed plastic bag before putting them in the trash."

That's right -- what the farmer thinks is "silly" is so dangerous that the CDC says it not even safe to just throw them out -- you have to put them in a bag to contain the listeria from spreading.

Another example of how industrial food production cares far more about money than people. Just for the record, according to the CDC, Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

How My Life Has Changed

I hardly know what to say here, life has changed so fast. How? Here's the top ten list:

10. I found out today that my book has hit the Deseret Book nonfiction bestsellers list at #8! I've never been on a bestsellers list before. Happy!

9. More than 200 people have toured my garden, and more people are coming. Feels good to be able to show "Forgotten Skills" in practice.

8. I have learned to carry copies of my book with me everywhere I go. Surprising the places where people want a copy. Thanks!

7. Steven Capp Perry was kind enough to do a half-hour interview with me for FM100 radio, which also ran on KSL radio and several other places, including the internet, (click here to listen to the interview) and that is when I started getting...

6. Fan mail from around the world. Really surprising to get emails from Australia, England, Canada, and all over the U.S. Humbled by the response to the book and media around the book.

5. And I was on television. That was such a crazy experience that one of these days I'll have to do a whole blog about that. For now, just know this -- live TV! No retakes!

4. Book signings! Lots and lots of them! You can see the whole schedule at So great to get to meet fans of the book, and people who buy two, three, ten copies. The record is one woman who bought 30 copies -- yes, you read that right!

3. Sold out signings! My first two Costco books signings sold out completely! The manager of the St. George Costco told me (unsolicited) that I was the first author to sell out a signing there in ten years!

2. I don't know if I should announce this or not, but I'm having a hard time keeping it to myself -- my editor has asked for rewrites on my novel! For those of you not in the publishing industry, this is huge, great news -- it means the second book of my three-book contract might be a fiction novel!! My novel is called "The Given Son" and I hope it will find a home with Cedar Fort. We'll know in a few weeks...

And finally...

1. I've gone into my second printing! My publisher announced the second printing in the third week of my release -- that is how fast the book has been selling! The first printing was 5,000 copies, and the second printing will be 3,000 copies. So excited!

Thank you everyone who has responded to my book. My goal in writing "Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency of the Mormon Pioneers" was to be useful. There is no other book like this in the world -- I've searched high and low. Every photo in the book was taken on our property. This is the way we live everyday. My book teaches the four methods for saving seed from your own garden so that you don't have to buy garden seed, the health and nutrition benefits of baking with pioneer yeast, which is far  better for us than commercial rapid-rise yeast in grocery stores, how to store vegetables without a root cellar, how to extend the garden season so you can eat fresh from your property 12 months a year, considerations for backyard eggs, forgotten recipes.

It's time to be self-sufficient. Thanks for giving my book this chance. :) -Caleb

Book Tour!

You know it's been a busy week when a friend leaves a message on your phone congratulating you on the launch day for your book -- and I had forgotten all about it! I was busy working in the garden all day yesterday and I never even got on the computer and never realized that it was the official release day of my book!

So now the book is available everywhere, including Walmart, Costco, and bookstores in the West and Amazon. And I've added several stops on my book tour, with more to be announced soon. I had a great time at the LDS Booksellers Convention this past week, first speaking to buyers from all over the world at my publisher's convention dinner, and then again at the Meet-and-Mingle two days later. TERRIFYING to have to talk to so many buyers and answer questions and see how competitive the world of bookselling is. I tried to charm them all. My publisher tells me that we were a success, with lots of orders for my book!

So, run and don't walk and get a copy of my book! If you want a signed copy, leave a comment with your email address. $17 plus $3 shipping. :)

Now, you may be asking, what the heck does the photo have to do with all this? Nothing. It is a photo of our yard, and I liked it. So!

My chickens are interviewed. For real.

So, my chickens are famous.

The strangest things have been happening to me since I wrote my book. I've had more than 100 people come and tour my garden -- and that was even before the book came out (obviously. It doesn't come out until next week.) We've done some filming in the garden. And lots of people have taken a lot of pictures. And now my chickens have been interviewed. On camera. Secretly. (I'm not sure why the interview was kept a secret from me. It's now like I would have protested. Perhaps the intrepid agri-journalist Janiel Miller wanted to get the chickens unvarnished opinions of me.)

Janiel and her Gnome Crew came and taped interviews with my wife and I in the garden, and part one of the interview is now on their blog. Just seeing the chickens interviewed it worth it. And me talk about exploding eggs and Egyptian walking onions. Enjoy!

My book is here!!

Forgotten Skills

My publisher just called me to say that my book, “Forgotten Skills of Self-Suffciency Used by the Mormon Pioneers” is at his office -- hurrah! If you would like a signed copy, I’d love to get you one! The book will also be available everywhere on Aug. 8, but if you order from me, you can get you copy signed. The book is full color on every page, and the price is $17. Shipping is $3 if you want me to ship it to you. You can pay via paypal by sending the money to Or you can mail me a check. Email me at the address above for my address.

Or you can pick up a book and pay in person TONIGHT (Wednesday July 27) between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Historic American Fork City Hall, 31 North Church Street (50 East) in American Fork.

I’m so excited to finally be able to sign copies of the book! Below is information about the book. Thanks! -Caleb

Kirt Forakis Caleb Warnock (author)
Marketing Director, Cedar Fort Publishers
2373 West 700 South 801-756-3412
Springville, UT 84663
P – 801-477-9033
F – 800-388-3727

“Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers”

Caleb Warnock’s New Book to be Released: “Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers”

7/25/11– Provo, Utah -- Journalist Caleb Warnock announces the Aug. 8 2011 release of his book, “Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers,” on pre-sale now at

Many people dream of becoming self-reliant during these times of fluctuating prices and uncertain job security. Using truly simple techniques, you can cultivate the pioneer's independence to provide safety against lost wages, harsh weather, economic recession, and commercial contamination and shortages. Strengthen your family's self-reliance as you discover anew the joy of homegrown food, thrift, and self-sufficient living.

Using truly simple techniques, homestead families harvested sweet, crisp carrots out of the snow-blanketed garden soil in December. They raised robust summer vegetables without expensive seed catalogs or nurseries. They created spectacular flower gardens at no cost. They ate fresh out of the garden twelve months a year, a skill that has now all but vanished. Their self-sufficiency provided security against lost wages, harsh weather, economic depression and recession, and commercial contamination and shortages.

Today, that kind of family security and self-reliance has never been more appealing. Many of the pioneer techniques are now lost to the general population. I was lucky enough to grow up in the kitchens and gardens of the last generation to provide family meals without relying on the grocery store. They managed their family budgets by putting to work centuries of received wisdom about food and self-sufficient living. My book teaches the reader just how simple and fulfilling the path to increased self-reliance can be, along with the pleasure of eating fresh garden produce with robust, homegrown flavor twelve months of the year.
This is not a book about bottling peaches or digging a root cellar. This book begins to overcome the myth that self-reliant living is practical only for up-before-dawn farmers or green-thumb gardeners with huge yards and no social life. The reality is that self-sufficiency need not be elaborate, time-consuming, or back-breaking. Any modern family can be strengthened by discovering these forgotten skills:

Growing Hardy and Perennial Vegetables: From Egyptian walking onions to self-seeding lettuce and spinach which thrives in below-freezing temperatures, our ancestors knew how to benefit their families with vigorous strains of garden goods. The early homesteaders ate fresh corn on the cob long after snow covered the ground and homegrown tomatoes at Thanksgiving -- with flavor beyond anything offered in today’s grocery stores.

Home-Grown Garden Seed: How did the pioneers garden without relying on seed catalogs and nurseries? Open-pollinated seed in the garden is the vegetable equivalent of wheat in food storage. My book explains the pioneer seed bank, the pros and cons of open-pollinated and hybrid garden seed, and a new effort now underway to revive it.

Eat Fresh in Winter: Following in the footsteps of the settlers, savvy modern gardeners can store their carrots, onions, parsnips, turnips, and beets over winter by leaving them exactly where they grew in the garden, or by using their garage!

Fresh Eggs: Taking a Second Look: Eggs were among the most valued homegrown pioneer foods. My book discusses how the backyard chicken coop disappeared, and why many cities, petitioned by residents, are allowing them once again. What every family should know when considering whether a few backyard hens might be right for them.

Baking with Pioneer Yeast: Learn about the health and nutrition benefits of baking with pioneer yeast instead of commercial quick-rise yeasts. Learn how bread was made for thousands of years before yeast was every sold in a grocery store.

Forgotten Recipes : Delicious hunger-gap omelets, roast vegetables, winter pioneer treats, family-pleasing meals entirely from the garden and storeroom, heritage recipes, and more.

Caleb Warnock is a full-time journalist and have been working for a central Utah daily newspaper for the past ten years. He has won more than 20 awards for journalism and creative writing, including the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Contest, the David O. McKay Essay Contest, and voted top reporter in Utah. His freelance publications range from articles on wolf-watching in Yellowstone to backyard poultry-keeping to perennial gardening. He has published several true stories about his ancestors in the Friend magazine. Caleb is a full-time journalist for Provo's Daily Herald.

"Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" is available at bookstores everywhere, in addition to Walmart and Costco stores, and Caleb Warnock can be reached at

"Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers" by Caleb Warnock
Cedar Fort Publishers
$16.99, available Aug. 8 2011

No words were harmed?!

Hello all!

So, the WritingSnippetts podcast has posted a third installment of me taking on the first page of a couple more manuscripts. Am I mean? Honest? Egotistical? Imperial? As I say in the podcast, all of my comments are aimed at one goal -- getting writers published.

I found it ironic that at the end of the podcast, the voice-over says "No words were harmed in the making of this podcast." You be the judge! Personally, I was hoping that at least a couple of sentences that were harming the manuscript were killed off. :)

You can listen to the podcast here:

Buckets of Love from Caleb

Okay friends, here is your chance to see how I take on the first page of a manuscript.

In this second Writing Snippetts podcast featuring an interview with me, each of the Writing Snippets crew brought their first page of one of their novels. They asked for my opinion, and, well, they got it!

By the way, how is your narrative voice? You can listen here:

Borders Bookstores are dead.

Who knew the ebook revolution would kill off a major chain so quickly?
Borders has been struggling for a while, as I reported in here. When they tried to get someone to buy the company, there were no bids. So, they are out of business -- and their 11,000 employees are out of work.
"The move adds Borders to the list of retailers that have failed to adapt to changing consumers’ shopping habits and survive the economic downturn, including Circuit City Stores Inc., Blockbuster and Linens ‘N Things," said the Associated Press today.
“We were all working hard toward a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now,” said  the president of Borders, Mike Edwards, in a statement.

Puppet Mouth: “The blog lives on like Wesley in Princess Bride”

Puppet Mouth is one my favorite blogs ever. In fact, I love it so much I’m tempted to create an award to give it. “CALEB LOVES THIS” shall be the name of the award, and I hereby award this to Puppet Mouth!!!

The goal of puppet mouth is both simple and profound -- let the liars of the world, who refuse to tell the truth, speak with their faces. Below is an exclusive interview with Puppet Mouth creator Matt Evans.

Q: Did you coin the phrase "puppet mouth"?
A: No and no (and yes). Let me explain. Google "puppet mouth" and you'll see that the primary meaning refers to a derogatory way of characterizing an older man or woman's lower face that, yes, with age, takes on the aspect of a ventriloquist's puppet's mouth. Which is valid as a characterization, I suppose. But what I'm going for, in my use of the phrase, is a facial expression (as opposed to a 'facial feature') that seems to embody a range of emotions running from abashment to frustration to exasperation to exhaustion. Also, it seems to include some ineffable something else in addition to the range of emotions just listed, something like a battle between various levels of self-consciousness or awareness. I hope that makes sense. Another way of looking --

I'm going to interrupt myself to finish the "no (and yes)" part of my two-and-one-parenthetical-part answer to your question. No, I did not in fact coin the phrase "puppet mouth" as I use it; my wife did. Brooklyn did. She doesn't remember having coined the phrase, however (which, of course, doesn't matter; I don't recall the circumstances of my conception or emergence at birth but I'm still here), but I'm a stickler for credit. The "(and yes)" part refers to my part in remembering Brooklyn's coined term and applying pictures and descriptions to various attempts to lexically fix the term, each attempt a blog post.

I could go on to redefine what I just wrote. For some reason I'm never happy with my responses. I'd be a lot happier, though, if you'd just stop me or maybe just --

Q: Stop.
A: ...

Q: Tell us the concept behind the blog.
A: When I visited the "Bodies" exhibit at some lower-tier casino in Vegas back in 2008, I saw for the first time that the human body is simply a marionette puppet that controls its own strings. Expanding the metaphor: the body's muscles and tendons are the strings and the brain is the hand. The body doesn't just move on its own; the brain (a vat, essentially, of electrified fats) sends impulses to the muscles and tendons, and these move the body. This fact may be totally obvious to everyone but me; regardless, though, it's at that exhibit where I made the connection. And that view of myself and others has never quite left me. I keep looking at people, peering into their eyes and saying, "Who are you really? Because you aren't who you or I think you appear to be." That's essentially the ethos of Puppet Mouth. The "puppet mouth" facial expression as I've conceived of it seems like yet one more aspect of the "auto-controlled" marionette thing. Feel free to cut any of this.

Q: No.
A: ...

Q: Puppet mouth is all about public shame and hypocrisy. Does shame matter in 2011? Does hypocrisy matter?
A: If the internet has taught us anything at all, it's that public (and private) figures today can expect to have their secret misdeeds (metaphorically) shouted from the housetops. E.g., Wikileaks. The stepping down of various public figures from office for reasons that have everything to do with shame or exposed hypocrisy. Picking at total random, the Scott Adams thing where he was exposed as having created his own cyberspace "puppet" defenders for murky reasons that I suspect have to do with the shame or discomfort he felt at having been exposed as a sexist cretin. How's that for subject interpretation of an empirical phenomenon?

Q: How do you pick the photos you feature?
A: Random happenstance, and reader email.

Q: The puppet mouth concept seems like an idea whose time has come. What is the future of the blog?
A: Thank you. The blog lives on in the same way that Wesley in Princess Bride lived on in captivity to the Dread Pirate Roberts: "Good night, Wesley! I'll most likely kill you in the morning." Like all or any of us, "" escapes death by the skin of its teeth until that one day when it won't. Escape, that is. Then it will go black.