I have spent a fair amount of time this weekend talking to friends about food. It has been especially heavy with "this is the way things were done when I was a kid" kind of conversation. When I look at the difference between how my grandmother cooked which was very bland and overcooked and the progression to my mother, processed food maven. My mom could have been the poster child for Betty Crocker. She had a product or kit for whatever type of meal you wanted to cook. Dehydrated this, powdered that. I still gag at the thought of Hamburger Helper. I suppose it was considered the era of efficient food. But so much of it was just plain NASTY!!
I discovered as a newlywed that i could make my food budget dollar go so much farther if I made from scratch. I bought flour, baking soda, baking powder, baking cocoa, yeast, milk, vegetable oil and eggs. From these basic ingredients I could go anywhere. If i wanted to make pizza crust I didn't need that stuff in a pouch. Pancakes and biscuits defied Bisquick. I could whip up a scratch cake in about the same time it took to make up a mix. I make awesome brownies!! Add corn meal onto the shopping list and cornbread better then what any mix made could also be had. Then there were noodles! Or how about dumplings? Some of the best food could be had from the basics.
Also in the early years of my marriage, my husband's grandfather got me hooked on gardening. We would go out and poke around a bit in his small garden, pull a few radishes or onions for dinner. He introduced me to Henry Fields. That's a mail order seed company based in Iowa. And I must admit, that every compliment that Grandpa Pat paid to the Henry Fields company seems to be well earned. They have never botched one of my orders, the seeds have always been good. Grandpa's axiom was to plant everything you need for eating and then try something new or different for fun. The first year ( well, first for me) it was the easy pick bean. Over the years I got away from the garden, I'm ashamed to say.
Then in the nineties, I read about the slow food movement. Much of it , I had already been doing out of economic necessity. but it did give being poor a much better name.. I do slow food and then later... I do organic and now.... I support local, antibiotic free farmer's markets. For some this will just be a fad. Others will actually break away from the boxes for good and learn to respect the food. It should be respected. It's powerful stuff. Not enough.... you die. Too much...you die. You abuse it by turning it into poly this, mono that, diglyceride something else and in time .... you die.
Then there is the joy! Eating gives us endorphine rushes just like getting hugs, laughing and having sex. Which is why it probably tends to be abused. That reminds me of the first time I tasted Steak au fromage. Mac had ordered it and I got a bite, which is okay. We've been married a long time and he stole blue cheese off my cob salad. It's tit for tat. That bite was worth the loss of my blue cheese. That au fromage sauce was so good! It makes you eat slowly. It makes you stop and savor. It was just so good!! That bite brought me full circle back to my garden.
The au fromage is just basic, rustic farm cooking. Much of the best of french and italian foods are the "peasant" fare so that has influenced me a great deal on how to do things around here. The big garden is, of course, a must. I am so hoping that the outdoor kitchen happens this summer. It will have the fireplace.... for me. It will have the wood fired grill.... for me. the gas grill ..... for Mac. And, I am so excited about this bit, the wood fired oven.... again for me. But this is what my little homesteading experiment is about. Food and shelter has turned into such burdensome issues. Why can't we live life on better terms? Why don't people think they can put a roof over their own heads and good food into their own stomachs. Not just good, but better then what can be provided commercially! I believe that people can do better, you just have to show them it's possible. And if this old broad can do it, then who couldn't? Not to worry, I'll show you. I'll take pictures!!