Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Pleasures of Home Cooking

Sense of Home Kitchen

Home cooking starts with ingredients, and simply put that makes all the difference.  Several years ago our situation was such that I needed to take a full time job, which meant my son would move from home schooling to public school and that my daughter would not have the opportunity to be home schooled.  With that change came the hectic life of a mom working full time, dinners prepared in a rush, and me asking the kids several times if they had their homework done, too distracted while throwing something together for dinner to properly listen to their answer (they still laugh about that).  I felt overwhelmed and even began buying those bags of prepared frozen dinners for to nights when "I was too busy to cook".  After a few months of that (perhaps longer if I am being really honest), I began to realize that reheating factory prepared foods (even if it was only a few nights a week) was no way to feed my children, or my husband and myself.

Proper nutrition and good taste do not come from a bag or can, it comes from ingredients prepared lovingly at home. I needed to make a change, I had shifted from a homemade life to a fast-paced, store-bought life, and I didn't like the person I had become.  I could not quit working so I had to adjust my attitude, making dinner for my family should not a burden or chore, it should be a pleasure.  I was nourishing my family, the most important job I had to do in any given day.  Yet, how would I manage both a demanding full time job and a growing family?

I started to plan ahead.  I kept the meals simple, before going to the grocery store I thought about what we would eat in the week ahead, even thinking ahead to what I would make each night, and made a list.  With the ingredients on hand and a plan in mind, dinner was not a rushed, thrown together affair, it was well thought out, nutritious, and we sat and ate together.  Some of the meals were still made in a hurry, but they were homemade.

Gradually I made some other changes, after not planting a garden for a few years the garden was back and I was using vacation time to preserve the produce from our garden.  I found that rather than being just one more item on my long list of "things to do", the garden was a pleasure.  It slowed me down and gave me time to relax and meditate.  I began preparing more dishes with fresh ingredients and learned to cook vegetables I had never cooked before.  I did not want any of the produce to go to waste so I made time to can again, even learned to pressure can.  Once you start on the homemade path there is just no stopping, soon I was butchering chickens and pressure canning my homemade chicken stock.  Next came beef stock and homemade plum and apple juice, and soon I was writing about my kitchen and garden adventures here.

I do not always have the time to make everything from scratch, but once you try making your own pumpkin brioche bread, sprouts, kefir, yogurt, whole-milk ricotta, soups, home canned tomato salsa, and trail mix, to name a few, you begin to realize that it does not take as much time as you once thought.  With the kitchen garden out your back door and your pantry full of foods you have preserved there is always something handy to prepare for dinner and there are fewer trips to the grocery store.  You might even get carried away and start making all your own homemade cleaners, but that is a story for another post.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Homemade Living / Kitchen and Pantry