I wrote this originally as an article for a self-sufficient living magazine. The editor rejected it saying that no one would actually take the time, this was too much work! I read recipes and cookbooks for fun, and it’s no trouble to read with a pencil in my hand. You’ll find many recipes in my cook books have a series of numbers written in pencil above them. This is my self-sufficiency rating for the recipe. It will look something like this:
The first number, 3, is the quantity of ingredients I raise or make myself.
The second number is the quantity of ingredients that I CAN raise or can make, but don’t always.
The last number is how many ingredients I have to purchase.
I want to be as self-sufficient as possible and I wanted to see how store-dependent recipes were? I rate my regularly used recipes and rate recipes which interest me. This method also shows me what I can do to be more self-sufficient.
Ideally, every recipe would be 7/0/0 or such, but that’s not realistic. I don’t have a farm or farm animals. If I’m making fresh corn soup, for example, the ingredients are
I mark the ingredients I raise or regularly produce with a minus sign (-), the ingredients I can raise or make, but don’t always with a tilde (~). I don’t mark store-bought ingredients.
My marked up copy would be:
I add the minus signs (items I produce/raise regularly) and the tildes (items I could produce,but don’t always) and then go down that many in the list and count how many ingredients remain, which is the number of ingredients which have to be purchased.
In this case there are 4 items marked, 7 items total, so 3 have to be purchased. I would pencil over the recipe:
My goal is to make that first number (items produced at home) as large as possible and the middle and last numbers zero.
I had a crop failure for my corn last year but this spring intend to plant corn again, so the numbers for my corn soup should change to 3/1/3. If I ever get to the point where I regularly make stock instead of buying it, then I’ll have succeeded in making this recipe as self-sufficient as possible, at least in my present circumstances.
The only problem with my rating system is that I want to be overly optimistic. For the fresh corn soup, I could make my own butter, but I’ve only done so once in about 30 years. It isn’t likely I’ll do so regularly unless I get a cow, goat or something else changes. If that happens? I’ll change the numbers. The rating isn’t static, it was designed specifically to change (which is why I do this in pencil and not a pen).
[Not to mention that my bookseller soul would REVOLT at the idea that I’d mark up my cookbooks in ink!] :O