Author pens guide on homestead cooking

By Ryan Cornell

Most oddsmakers would’ve bet against Carol J. Alexander becoming a foodie.

Growing up with the “Queen of Spam,” a term she affectionately attached to her hardworking mother, Alexander lived off the canned meat in addition to mac ‘n’ cheese, hot dogs and anything boxed.

“She was very frugal and didn’t have time to garden,” Alexander said. “She didn’t have time to cook healthier and more wholesome foods.”

It wasn’t until Alexander moved out and taught herself how to cook from scratch that she became more aware of where her food came from.

Since then, she’s been on a journey to learn how to cook wholesome meals on a tight budget to feed herself, her husband and their six kids.

Earlier this year, Alexander, a freelance writer and all-around homesteader, published “Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-Ahead Meals” as an e-book. In August, her book was released in print.

Homesteading refers to a practice of sustainable living that can include growing fruits and vegetables, raising livestock and producing clothing and fabrics.

She said the book is geared toward individuals she describes as the “homesteading homemaker” – those who try to grow most of their own food, and because of that overwhelming task, are exhausted by the time it’s ready to cook supper.

“At an age when our food is more celebrity-driven and more gourmet-driven,” Alexander said, “as country folks, we just like to get our families fed.”

“Homestead Cooking” teaches readers how to prepare food at harvest time so they can spend less time making supper the rest of the year.

Lessons include everything from how to make apple butter and scrapple to 18 meals out of a ham and cleaning chicken feet.

When Alexander spends a day in Harrisonburg each month shopping for groceries, the last thing she wants to do is come home and have to chop, peel and dice that evening’s meal.

“But I don’t have to because I already have meals up on my shelf from when I harvested my food,” she said.

And not only does her book help homesteaders, she said, but also anybody who buys in bulk or likes to plan ahead.

Although there aren’t any stores that sell her book yet, she will give a presentation on homesteading at the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg on Nov. 20.

Alexander lives in New Market with her family. Her writing has appeared in “Grit,” “Hobby Farms” and “Urban Farm” among other magazines. You can read her homesteading blog at http://www.goo.gl/XJYSsj.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com