Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cookin' from Scratch

My life has continued to revolve around food this week. I am taking charge of my health and striving to live more simply and frugally, and all of this requires a great deal more attention to food than I have been accustomed to for some time. Bascially, we are eliminating processed and convenience foods and trying to eat whole foods as much as possible. (I am also currently forgoing sugar, caffeine, and most starches.) Therefore, I have been thinking about food, shopping for food, cooking food, and cleaning up the kitchen much more than I am used to, and it has taken up a great deal of my time.

I generally enjoy cooking, and have had periods of intense interest in cookbooks and watching Food Network. But my passion subsided with the realization that the other three people in my home are very picky eaters and often do not appreciate the things I cook for them. This limited my motivation to cook, and we gradually began eating out more and relying on convenience foods.

Two other factors I am up against are my lack of enthusiasm for grocery shopping and for dish washing. If I lived somewhere with a farmer's market and a well-stocked grocery store, the shopping thing would not be so much of an issue, but I live in a rural area where tomato paste in a tube is unheard of, and I can count on one hand the organic vegetables that are available.

The dish washing aversion is most likely due to the fact the I had to wash dishes as a child. My mom had excema on her hands, so it was my job to wash the dishes every night after dinner. I do have a dishwasher now, but that doesn't seem to make much difference. For me it doesn't appear to be the time involved but the task itself. We all have these types of aversions, I suppose. (For the record, among home keeping tasks, I also dislike dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and ironing.)

For inspiration and information, I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in the evenings before bed. As I revisit the issues I originally familiarized myself with years ago by reading Wendell Berry's essays, I hope that the changes I am making are for good this time, and that I will not allow myself to fall back into the typical American mode of mindless consumption.

Top photo: Breakfast focaccia from No Need to Knead. (For my children!)
Bottom photo: Lentil stew based on the recipe from The All New Joy of Cooking (1997).