Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A month from scratch

Citrus cleaner

This morning I was making fresh orange juice for poor Cohen, who has a cold. First though, I peeled the oranges so as to make a citrus cleaner with the rinds. As I worked I was thinking about several things, one being our ninth wedding anniversary next month. That man must have married me for love, I thought. 

As a 21 year old bride I could bake, but I could not cook. And I only baked on special occasions. I would have failed if the way to Dave's heart had been through his stomach. My specialties were banana cake and scones. He still likes neither. (He's crazy, I know.) Our dinners then consisted of prepackaged food, frozen meals, eating out, or takeaway. Breakfast was simply toast and coffee, and we both brought our lunches at work. Although I had been cooking for myself since turning vegetarian at sixteen, I still really didn't know how to cook.

So much has changed since then. Motivated by Cohen's birth in particular, I started learning how to cook. I began relying less and less on prepackaged food. Becoming a stay at home Mum changed our budget dramatically and I could not rely on takeaway any more. But I had more time. I had a tiny person in my life that I wanted the best for. We found out about his allergies and I needed to be able to cater to them. I borrowed recipe books from the library. Printed recommended recipes from blogs. Borrowed recipes from friends. And slowly built up a range of meals that were healthy, thrifty and delicious. I got over the thought that people like me couldn't cook. I realised I had been standing in my own way, much like I was when it came to learning to knit. The only person stopping me was me and my assumption that I couldn't do it. But who cares if every meal is not perfect? Better to build on your successes than never try at all. 

Blogs further motivated me. The likes of Down to Earth, Soule Mama and Inner Pickle opened new doors to me. From growing our own veggies, to eating seasonally. From preserving food, to making even more from scratch. From keeping chickens, to stockpiling. Even just crafting practical things for the home. My focus expanded to consider economy and environment even more. There are some bigger picture things that we are working on for the future - solar power for the house, rain water tanks for the laundry and gardens and others that we have already accomplished - new roof with whirly birds, new ceiling insulation. But I am also interested in the smaller, more every day things - like making my own cleaning products, thus reducing the amount we spend on such things and reducing the amount of chemicals in our home. Or replacing disposable items like nappies, breast pads and tissues with cloth alternatives. (A box of breast pads costs $6 a week. While I have all the necessary items to make them myself and simply throw them into the machine with the rest of the washing. A savings of $60 every two and a half months.) 

Last night we ate creamy pesto pasta for dinner, with pesto made from the basil grown in our garden. I made enough for lunch today and two serves to freeze for a later date. After making juice and porridge for the little one this morning, I made a loaf of bread and baked two batches of jam drop biscuits for the week. Tonight we are having Spicy Vegetable and Lentil soup for dinner with the fresh bread.  I'll be making a double batch so that I can freeze serves for nights when we are in a rush or I don't feel like cooking - something Emerson's birth inspired me to do. Living simpler, healthier, cheaper has become a part of my mind set. But I know there is more that I could be doing. I've been inspired by Fi at Inner Pickle to challenge myself to a month from scratch and document some of those challenges on my blog.

And you? Are you inspired to take up Fi's challenge?
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