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!