The New Home Economics


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Where the new home economics are taught

Sorry for the light posting schedule over the weekend.  I’ve never been so busy in my life; I either have my hands in the dirt, my head in this book, or one toddler in each arm.  In my spare time I washed many, many dishes.  This weekend we tried:

sourdoughstarter1) Sourdough bread. We made “starter” last weekend and it was ready to be made into bread this weekend.  Result: FAIL. I tried this method because it seemed so easy.  I think the problem is that I did not “proof my sponge” long enough.  The directions said when it is frothy, it is ready.  I don’t think I let it get frothy enough — it had a couple bubbles and I jumped the gun.  I got my dough all kneaded and ready to go and it never rose.  Here’s my leftover starter in the fridge.  Going to try again next weekend.

2) Chicken.  We roasted a chicken on Saturday, then Sunday I simmered the carcass all day long to make bone broth.  Then I froze the broth in ice cube trays so we can use it as needed in recipes.  Bone broths like this are apparently quite good for you.  And it makes sense.

gingerbug3) Ginger beer! At the same time we started our sourdough bread, we started a ginger beer “bug.”  You can see it at right; the sediment on the bottom and the gingery goodness on top.  Ginger beer is a non-alcoholic fermented beverage recipe that we found in Nourishing Traditions. (Where else?)  This weekend we did step 2, which is to introduce your “bug” to a large amount of water and some sugar.  Now we let it ferment for another week before bottling it.  IF it turns out (and I have some serious doubts) I will do a full post about it, with recipe.

Another little obsession of mine lately is planning a trip around taking a class in the New Home Economics.  For some reason I can’t get Adam excited about broom making or humane chicken processing.  Yes, there are schools for this stuff.  Here are some in the Upper Midwest:

Driftless Folk School
In southwestern Wisconsin, they offer courses in things such as Flyfishing, Making Herbal Salves and Lotions, Repairing and Maintaining Farm Equipment, Hand Woodworking, Broom Making, Rug Braiding, Blacksmithing, Fermented Foods, Chicken Butchering Basics, and even silly things like Appalachian Clogging.  Most of the courses are one-day or one weekend.  Needless to say, I’d like to go there and just move in for a good month.

Simple Living Series
A six week course in cheese, fermented foods and beverages, herbal soap and handcrafted herbal wares.  In Sheboygan, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee).

North House Folk School
Located in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  Unique feature: boat building.  It seems most of the classes here involve artistry — basket and jewelry making, and the like.  Not things you necessarily need in your every day life, but it sure would be cool to make your own boat, no?  Practical classes include rug braiding and whole grain sourdough bread baking (a class I obviously need).

The Clearing
Located in Door County, Wisconsin.  This school focuses more on fine arts.

More of these “fine art” types of folk schools in the upper midwest, can be found here.

Finally, this one is not in the upper midwest but I saw it on google and it sure looks cool:

John C. Campbell Folk School
Located in Brasstown, North Carolina, this looks very similar to the Driftless Folk School, but offers an even greater variety of classes.  They go beyond the practical stuff and into a lot of folk art like basketry, knitting, photography,  printmaking, and writing, as well as cooking and gardening.  Here’s a list of subjects they teach.

There, that was one heckuva long post.  Hope you’re having a good week.

6/2/09 update: Minneapolis Community Education (classes in spring and fall) always offers a bunch of really great, affordable classes too.