no, I’m not about to change my colors and convert my much beloved whiny parenting blog to another foodie blog. that said, my life has taken a definite turn for the homestead-based since becoming a parent. much of my day is spent nourishing my kids with food, and of course, my love and attention. being the one at home, I have also inherited the job of head chef, with (supposed) time on my hands while home to prepare meals for the other people in my family.
since I became a parent and found myself totally clueless about the implications of that title, lost in the void of a culture that often tries to lead those of us without a clue astray, mostly down the aisles of target, I’ve struggled with what should be my main focus and objective in being a parent and in being the one to raise my children.
I’ve tried on many hats from constant playmate (dear god, no), to authoritarian commander in chief, to sibling ref sending each kid in turn to the penalty box, to understanding confidant. I’m still left wondering…what is my role? what is the most important aspect of their development to focus on? with the endless list of daunting tasks that keeping a household and pets and kids entails, what IS my priority?
what about chef?
sure, part of the deal since staying home and even before that has always been cooking. but what to cook? vegan? vegetarian? organic? raw? how can I best nourish my family? raised in the 80s and 90s by a woman who, as part of womens lib, avoided absorbing even an ounce of know-how from her mother on preparing real nourishing foods, who prided herself on freezing dinners for the week all in a couple hours on sundays, who subsisted for most of her life on cigarettes, cold pepsi and various snack foods, I certainly didn’t have a clue.
blindsided by designer fats and foods that are constantly making headlines in the present age, along with mega vitamins all the rage, I felt completely at a loss. until I talked one day with a friend. this friend seemed to have some kind of savvy that I was missing, seemed one step ahead of all of the hype. she handed me a book: “Nourishing Traditions”.
well, damn, if that didn’t hit the mark right on. exactly what I was looking for. and the content is exactly what you’d expect form the title: recipes that mimic recipes in traditional cultures around the world untouched by the current culture surrounding food, their knowledge instead gleaned over thousands of years of a culture of eating off the land. the bottom line? free range, and organic, yes, but animal fat, bone broths, and fermented foods. foods that human beings have been thriving on for centuries.
this, I decided. this. this is the way to nourish my family.
I wasn’t, I’m not, sure that I can do it. monetarily and just time-wise. people used to spend a lot of time cooking. hell, it was what people spent most of their time doing: hunting and gathering. and it’s knowledge that has been lost and that I will have to basically learn on the go. but I feel like it’s worth a shot.
the first recipe I tried was something simple: chicken stock. what? you mean the stuff you buy out of a cardboard box and add to soup? the stuff that’s basically chicken flavoring and salt and garlic powder?
but real chicken stock is a different animal, my friend. it’s a beast.
first, you take a whole chicken, preferably free range and organic. you chop up the neck and the wings (don’t ask me why, as the entire carcass disintegrates by the time you’re finished). I have to say, I’ve made chicken before. mostly chicken breast. and cutting through a whole chicken with a serrated knife, through the BONE, is a little different sensation than dicing up some chicken breast. you feel sort of…savage. and like a killer. lemme tell you, it takes a lot of strength to cut through a bone. and it makes a sickening sound. dump it into a big pot. add some vinegar and water and veggies and bring to a boil and then just let the thing simmer….for 6-24 hours (!!!!!!!!!!). yeah, that’s one way to humidify your house. and by the end of the day, your entire place will have a distinctly poultry aroma.
then comes the hard part. take out the chicken with a slotted spoon (to use later) and then strain all of the water into a bowl. well, this ain’t the food network and we don’t have any cheesecloth around here and so I had to make do with a noodle colander. by the end of the process, which took a good half hour, me and my kitchen were sloshed with chicken broth. as I was dumping the hot broth into the colander with one hand and holding the colander in place with the other, burning myself with the steam, I thought to myself, “this feels like work”.
preparing food used to be work. real physical labor. as I was doing it, I could just picture some ladies squatting over a low fire, poking at chicken bits in a giant cauldron with sticks. or my grandmother. for some reason, I could picture my grandmother doing something like this.
it felt good. it felt real. like I was really providing for my family. something wholesome. something nutritious. something nourishing.