Wednesday, January 27, 2010


 I have so many thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head the last few days. Food. Family. Traditions. Heritage. I really want to share a few of them here, but every time I try it's just too much. So I guess I should take it in pieces. And the best place to start is usually the beginning, yes?

My first year of cooking from scratch was born from necessity. I was young. We were young. Even with my (now) husband and I both working, it was often difficult to make ends meet. We were working opposite shifts to avoid sending our youngest child to daycare. I'm not against daycare. My oldest went to an amazing in home daycare for several years. But I didn't have the choice then, as a single mom. With my youngest born into and raised by a two parent family, we did have choices - though they often came with sacrifice. So for years, we worked opposite shifts, seeing each other maybe an hour a day. It was a hard couple of years.


When my (now) husband was laid off and I got a permanent position where I had been temping, we took that opportunity for him to go back to school.

Our first year living together, my idea of home cooking was adding chicken to a frozen meal. Perhaps a jar of sauce with spaghetti and purchased frozen garlic bread.

I didn't grow up in a home where recipes and memories were passed down. I don't know if I would have had interest if they were, back then. My mother cooked often when I was little, but as I got older she became ill. My father worked long hours and as a result we relied on convenience and fast food a lot. 

So, when it was time for me to start cooking for a family, that's what I turned to because it's what I knew. As we all know, convenience food is expensive, so when it came time to trim costs one of the first places I looked was my grocery budget. At the time we were spending around 100-150 a week on groceries. Initially, I cared only about cutting costs without paying a lot of attention to nutrition. It worked, I cut our bill at our lowest to 40 dollars a week. That's a huge amount of savings. But it didn't take very long before my focus turned to nutrition. The more I cooked with recipes, the more I took interest in fresh ingredients. With two growing young boys, I began to make sure what I was making was not only affordable, but nutritionally sound.


This was about when I began my years long love/hate relationship with making bread. It was supposedly so easy. And so cheap. And so much more nutritious. Only it wasn't easy, not for me.

From there my interest in food and nutrition was shaped again. I started paying more attention to how my food was produced, where it was grown, if it was in season. I read everything I could about these topics. Whole foods, Real foods. Slow food. Local food.

I'm still learning, still growing, still exploring. I'm pretty passionate about food. About food culture. About a food revolution. 

For the past few years, we've been making attempts at growing some of our food. It's not easy, since we've had to grow mostly in pots and we have a very, very short growing season here.

This year we have land. We have a place to plant and stay and put down roots, literally. We're going to take it slow. I don't know much about gardening. I don't want to get in over my head. Plus, now we have to worry about wildlife. This year will be an experiment in our soil, our surroundings. We'll stick with what we know. Lettuce, peppers, tomatoes.

We plan on this being our forever home, or at least our very, very long time home. So we have many years to learn and expand and grow here.

Our house was built in the mid 1800's. It's been gutted and remodeled and the only (sadly) original parts are the balloon structure and the root cellar. I really want to take advantage of our cellar for food storage. I have several thrifted books on the topic and that's one of my goals for next year. I don't know much about it, besides the very basics. I'm so excited to move into that direction. I'm really drawn to the idea of being self sustaining and I think it would be interesting to see how well we could fare relying on food we grow/preserve.

My husband has been resistant in my food evolution. He likes the idea growing food. He likes that I cook from scratch. But he's a very traditional meat and potatoes guy and it's not always easy to get him on board. He's reluctant to try new things, as are the kids.

And that's a topic for another day - getting a reluctant husband and children involved and interested in a family food revolution.

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