Friday, Mar 23, 2018
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Couple say life is cool without their refrigerator


Catherine Hernandez with jars of stewed tomatoes and asparagus from her pantry.


Imagine living without a refrigerator. Could you do it? Just two or three generations ago, people had to rely on preserving foods in ways other than refrigeration.

Some folks think that they can do the same today: Ably existing minus that kitchen appliance are Catherine Hernandez and Steve Steel, who believe in “sustainable living.”

“That is the ability to live in a way that doesn't deplete resources or in a way that makes less of them,” said Mr. Steel as he was tending the garden in their Old West End backyard. “We grow most of our food.”

For supper, soup is made with what is picked from the garden - tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, cauliflower, and broccoli. The couple cook in large quantities, so whatever soup is left from the evening meal is canned.

What was once the location for the refrigerator has now become the pantry, a place to store the quart and pint jars for use through the year. A pressure canner is used to preserve low-acid foods.

They are vegetarians, so preserving or refrigerating meat is unnecessary.

They only drink milk the same day it is purchased from the store. They make their own butter with an antique churn, then store it in a French buerre pot.

Among their favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, pizza, and sloppy joes and tamales made with texturized vegetable protein in place of meat.

The couple have grown everything from peanuts to hops for the flavoring for homemade beer. They grow herbs in place of flowers up their front walk.

Sustainable living takes “a lot of planning for what you will eat in the winter,” said Ms. Hernandez.

  • Baking contest entries are being sought for Prairie Autumn Days Festival Oct. 22 at the Nature Conservancy in Swanton. The contest will include separate categories for pies, cakes, and breads. All entries must include one of the following: blueberry, strawberry, black cherry, black huckleberry, black raspberry, dewberry, or elderberry.

    A fee of $5 will be charged; multiple entries are accepted. Entries must be on site by 2 p.m. Judging will be at 3 p.m. For a complete set of rules, call the Nature Conservancy at 419-867-1521.

  • A pierogi sale will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Chester Zablocki Senior Center, Lagrange Street and Central Avenue. More than a dozen varieties are available. Prices range from $7 per dozen for most varieties to $9 per dozen for meat-filled pierogi. Advance orders will be available until Oct. 11 by calling 729-3370.

    The sale, sponsored by St. Paschal Fraternity of Secular Franciscans in Toledo, celebrates October as Polish American Heritage Month and honors the 125th anniversary of the beginnings of the Toledo Polonia (Polish community).

    Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor.

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