Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A (Not So Perfect) Storm

Another night in the central plains and another night of covered veggies, tornado warnings, lightening and the threat of hail. This time of year the plains climate is ripe for atmospheric instabilities and serves to shake off the rose-colored glasses we've been wearing since the first signs of spring burst forth.

At the Rational Living homestead we've had our own microcosmic parallel this week. Since April 10th the only scenario thrown our way was that no chicken was available for purchase during the week of April 25th. That's it.

We've been living the easy life; no scenarios means status quo rationing with predictable supplies and established ration point values. To paraphrase the gentleman writer of On the Ration, there's a knack to rationing and once you've figured it out meal plans and shopping lists become second nature. This is especially true when one week of rationing looks just like the next.

But this week was different. After a month of predictability we found ourselves faced with four scenarios this week:

Beef - scarce, available for 1 1/2 times the usual ration points
Eggs - none available for purchase (at the store)
Nuts and Nut Products - none available
Flour - sparse, only very limited amounts available

Luckily, we're not big beef eaters. And our CSA has provided us with another half dozen farm fresh eggs that by-passed the store.

But Sissy and Eowyn typically (and quite willingly) eat peanut butter at least once a day (if not more), and I had not stock-piled a back-up supply, so this week of scant nut butters has required much more creativity for their lunches. So far we've done turkey sandwiches, leftover (homemade) pizza and cottage cheese with peaches. Although no one has complained outright about this change, I know in my heart that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be happily greeted about now.

And flour? Flour wasn't actually rationed during WWII but was subject to market variability due to the massive amounts of resources being redirected to feed "the boys." What makes this a particularly touchy scenario for us is the fact that, for the past month, we've been making our own sandwich bread from scratch. Partly for the experience, partly to control the ingredients (no HFCS, please), we've been making two loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread each week. Luckily, we've had enough flour on hand to make it through the week, but this scenario, combined with the previous, has really reminded me of how important it is to stockpile a small supply of essentials.

Early on in the rationing year I was very diligent to make sure we always had back-ups of critical supplies: peanut butter, sugar, oils, raisins, pasta, etc. But during the past month I've gotten lazy and lackadaisical about maintaining this reserve. I've even gone weeks without purchasing our allotted sugar rations. But this week's "storm" has served as a well-heard reminder.

So when the current rations are lifted for this week I'll stock up on peanut butter, sugar, flour and other important supplies. Hopefully we'll be able to weather the next storm a little more comfortably.

--Rational Mama

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