Sunday, August 03, 2008

Healthy Food Focus

I did my Household Journey, and now I think I will do some kind of Kitchen Tour, though I'm still trying to think of a name for it??? Just like household management, food has a spiritual component -- in many ways, preparing and eating food is intertwined with life and religion even more than the "oikos" or house economy (the words used to be synonymous). Yet that idea gives me a twinge of guilt right off the bat. There is so much out there about the importance of integrity in eating matters, but there are also so many ways to spend too much money, stress oneself out, and in general feel guilty and wretched, which of course is NOT conducive to the delight and gratitude that ought to be inherent in eating.

Here is my situation:

Our family lives in the high forest about 60 miles away from town. Our soil is granite-y, and acid-y from the conifers that surround us. Wild animals -- deer and other creatures-- find garden products attractive, as well they might. Plus our summers have tended to be "medical" -- for some reason my medically fragile child seems to have some ongoing medical issue every summer. Last year it was chicken-pox; the year before, he was dealing with a G-tube stoma that wouldn't heal; etc.

The bottom line is that I haven't managed a vegetable garden in the 10 summers we have been up here. Oh yes, one year we did plant lettuce, but that is all.

Since we live far away from town, it's a challenge getting reasonably priced fresh vegetables and fruits in quantity. On the bright side, we live just on the bowl sides of the California central valley, so if we drive down into town we CAN get reasonably priced local-grown produce.

We don't really have a good supplier for reasonably priced organic "living" food other than the Trader Joe's which is 60 miles away. There used to be a food co-op up here but for some reason it didn't offer much food that wasn't "packaged" -- like organic corn chips and the like. Those definitely aren't staples of our diet, so I didn't find the co-op much use in my task of getting reasonably priced, reasonably healthy, reasonably simple food on the table.

I DO have lots of cool kitchen instruments courtesy of my dear husband. My Kitchen-Aid is probably my absolute favorite, besides the coffee maker ;-). But we also have an icecream maker, a bagel maker, a slicer, a nice set of pots and pans, nice knives etc.

I am a fair to middling cook. I am too abstracted, too uninterested in food subtleties, and in too much of a hurry to get out of the kitchen to be a good cook. I like to bake, but rather dislike chopping veggies and handling raw meat. However, now that I don't have babies it is a bit easier to spend quality time in the kitchen and I even have fairly willing helpers of various ages.

One other advantage is that we generally don't have enough extra $$$ to buy much prepared food or eat out more than once in a blue moon.

So there you have the benefits and drawbacks of our situation. I am hoping to spend some time thinking through all this and trying to make a Plan. Eventually I will set Goals, but right now the general big picture is that I'd like to find ways of getting outside of the food preparation rut I am in.

I have liked Menus 4 Moms for quite a while, and I found their Frugal Meal Planning page today which I plan to go through. I will blog if I make any discoveries ;-).

So I will probably devote most of August to this topic. I'll probably restore the Menu Mondays, but in retrospect rather than planning ahead. If there's one thing I've realized it's that my kitchen style is intuitive within a framework. I have a loose rotation over two weeks which I will share sometime in future, but I don't like to have everything set in stone ahead of time. So I think the retroactive journalling will work better than the planning-in-advance.

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