This book gave me desires. Deep dark desires for...gardening. And making my own cheese. And doing more things from scratch. And doing them now.
thing is, these are aspirations I have anyway, but my
way is rather slower than the way Barbara Kingsolver and her family
approached trying to eat locally for a year. I'm trying to make small,
long-term changes, one at a time, hopefully in a way that I'll stick to
it. But it was fun to read about someone else's experiment, in mostly
non-preachy tones, and, you know, quite a lot about turkey birth, sex,
I wanted to live like this, and want it badly. Small
steps, I tell myself, small steps. You're a grad student. You have no
money. One thing at a time. It's tempting to want to change everything,
all at once.
But what sold me most on this book was the primary
emphasis - that beyond reducing your carbon footprint, and supporting
your local economy, and all those good things, making things from
scratch and eating things locally and when they're in season, tastes
better. I heartily agree.
We started making many more things from
scratch in the last five years, because my husband tends to find that
one of the major triggers for an upset digestive system is
preservatives. Or something in processed food. I don't know what. But I
do know that while cheese is always a trigger, processed cheese will be
very painful, and good cheese will likely be not. That I can make a
shepherd's pie from scratch that will bother him not at all, while one
from the supermarket will mean an unpleasant evening.
been raised in a family where my father stayed home with my sisters and
me, and turned himself into an amazing cook, I knew that homemade food
tasted better, and I've come around to making so much more myself.
Because it tastes so good.
A year and a half ago, we started to
notice that the veggies we were getting from our supermarket were going
over in a matter of days. And I'm not talking fragile veggies here, I'm
talking potatoes and carrots. Which should be able to be stored for
months. In theory. So either we were buying last year's potatoes and
carrots, or they were storing them improperly.
Luckily, we live
smack in the middle of the best agricultural land in the province, so the
solution was obvious - start hitting the farmer's market more. I had
assumed it would be more expensive, but it wasn't. The prices were about
the same, and the market was actually closer than the supermarket, so I
could do a couple of trips a week and get just what I wanted. This, it
turns out, is key for cheaper groceries. For so many items, buying in
bulk is such a scam.
Then this last year, I finally got brave
and tried the butcher in my local market. This, I was sure, was going to
be so much more expensive. Surprisingly, no. Often, his prices are
about the same as the sale prices at the supermarket. And oh my god, the
meat is so much better. Stewing beef that isn't the tough pieces they
can't find any other use for. Beautiful chicken breasts. Smoked pork
So, yeah. I loved this book, because it was in tune
with things I'm trying to do anyway. It's a celebration of good food,
good tastes, and taking the time to live in season.
I just need
to remind myself not to try to do everything. Some day, I'll have a
vegetable garden. Some day, I'll make my own cheese. But for today, my
goal is simple - make my own bread. I haven't done it in almost a year,
and today's the day. Screw the breadmaker. This'll be done by hand. And
it'll smell like it did when we'd come home to the smell of Dad's fresh
bread, two giant loaves to break into right away, and the three small
loaves for our lunches for the next day.
Learning to make my own chicken stock, and maybe how to can tomatoes, that can wait. For a little while.