Mornings begin with Mabel, her big brown eyes pushing us out of slumber and into the barn to fill her feed box. I heat up water, take a few sips of coffee, grab Joshie, and hand Stewart the milking supplies as he heads out the door. We fill her feed box and give Stan some hay and inevitably Annie or Ruthie stagger out to help Daddy carry the milk pail or ask many questions.

I strain the milk and get breakfast cooking as I try to coax the boys out of bed. Their bedroom is in the loft above the kitchen so I flip pancakes while gently hinting to Elijah that the milk pail is ready. When he is up, he heads out to milk the goats. Abram lets out his chicken flock and feeds them and the cats. The broody hens are also his responsibility so he comes in for water and millet for the newest additions to the homestead.

I strain goat milk next and the girls and I get breakfast on the table. There are usually eggs collected the day before, milk from last night, and whatever sourdough bread or pancakes or fried potatoes I’ve added to the mix that morning.


If I am on top of things, I get right to the dishes but I’m not this day. Toddlers are an interesting balance of them yelling let me run free while I am thinking buddy, you’d kill yourself. So I grab the previous day’s harvests and begin snapping beans and chopping okra. I do it outside, in the shade, while I watch Joshie cover himself in dirt while grinning  from ear to ear. I think it worked out for both of us.

Ruthie and Annabelle have taken up shop near their brothers who are moving dirt in order to help Daddy with the root cellar. There is so much talking that I almost can’t believe the amount of work they’re getting done and how frequently they confer with one another about how fun this particular chore is. I suppose if it is this or helping Mama with laundry or cracking open the math book, moving dirt will always win.


Stewart is finishing up the bones of the root cellar, directing the boys as he does his own work. We smile at one another every so often as we hear the children say something funny. We both tell Joshie not to drink the chicken water.

I fill the canner and throw together a quick lunch before Daddy and the boys are off to pick up hay with our neighbor. More building materials will be coming home, Lord willing, I am told to finish this project up. The girls lay down for naps at the same time as Joshie (and they actually sleep!) and it is quiet so I take a few minutes to work on a few blog things (including this post).


The canner is finished and the afternoon brings school books and phonics with Annie and strapping Joshie into the stroller so he can watch the building (and not drink the chicken’s water). I’ve got beans soaking for supper and will need to pick more okra and black-eyed peas to keep up. I thank the Lord for the abundance we’ve been able to eat, ferment, can, and dehydrate far above any previous year.

There is rain in the forecast so I start mapping out fall garden planting. Pull the cucumbers, pull the weeds, plant the roots and greens. It always seems way more simple in my head than it ends up being in reality.


We will eat supper as the sun just begins its decent and by the time twilight hits, Abram is milking the goats and we are collecting eggs. Stan and Mabel go their separate ways and the chickens are put to bed. I will try to wash some more dishes, help the girls with their in-and-out of bedtime routine, and put Joshie to bed alongside his Ruff-Ruff Doggie so he can sing and chatter until he falls asleep.


Like most days, this day ends just as it began, prepping milking equipment, wrangling sourdough, giving hugs and kisses to little ones. And tomorrow, if the Lord wills, will probably look a lot like today… and what a privilege that would be.

Cortido – or curtido, depending on who you ask – has always been a ferment to me. Adding some Mexican oregano, garlic, and carrot transforms basic kraut into a Latin American-inspired tangy condiment great on just about anything.

So I am not really sure if in some cultures it was fermented while in other it wasn’t. Or maybe, like in my own kitchen, you served it fresh at times but when you needed to preserve that food, you let lactic acid fermentation do the job for you. In either case, you end up with a tangy, flavorful slaw/kraut with a great crunch and great versatility. We like it on tacos, beans, eggs, stews, potatoes, salads, and more. We like cortido so much, in fact, that a recipe for Summer Squash Cortido ended up in Traditionally Fermented Foods.

So when Amanda sent me a copy of her book Latin American Paleo Cooking I happily jumped at the opportunity to share this recipe with you. The book is a lovely collection of recipes put together by her and her Puerto Rican Mother-In-Law, all made free from grains, dairy, and sugar.

Besides many options for flavorful meats, vegetables, and tropical starches, there are four sections of the book I found particularly inspiring. The first is the recipes for things like arepas and pupusas made entirely grain-free. In addition, the authors have devoted entire sections to flavorful, inspiring sauces as well as Latin American treats made from ingredients like coconut flour, tapioca starch, and natural sweeteners. Most notable, I think, are the two recipes for cheese that Toress offers – a queso blanco and a cheddar-like cheese both made dairy-free.

In the end I found the recipes from Amanda and her Mother-In-Law both heartwarming in sentiment and inspiring in the kitchen.

Curtido (Spicy Cabbage Slaw)

Reprinted with permission from Latin American Paleo Cooking by Amanda Torres with Milagros Torres, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Toni Zernik

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 small head green cabbage, sliced very thinly or grated
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced and cut about 1″ (2.5 cm) long
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, diced and seeded, or 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (12 g) fine Himalayan salt
  • 2 tsp (4 g) dried oregano
  • ½ cup (120 ml) filtered water
  • ½ cup (120 ml) apple cider vinegar


In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well. Depending on how large your cabbage is, you may need to add a bit more vinegar and water. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving. The flavors will continue to develop as it sits. Serve a generous portion alongside Pupusas con Chicharrón o “Queso” (page 63). Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.

Shannon’s Fermentation Note: You can omit the apple cider vinegar and some of the water and ferment this exact same recipe for a tangy, fermented curtido. Change the salt measurement to 2 Tablespoons and massage it into the vegetables until a brine begins to form, adding a bit of water as needed and additional salt if the vegetables do not taste well-seasoned. Pack into 2-3 pint jars, leaving at least 1.5 inches of head space and then use a fermentation weight to hold the veggies below the level of the brine. Allow it to ferment for at least 1-2 weeks, burping the jars at least once per day as needed. Serve as stated above and place in cold storage for longer keeping.