I started this blog as a way to encourage and provide a resource to those people who are looking to bring eating back to the basics. I developed a love for preparing food back when I realized my mom couldn’t cook if her life depended on it. I particularly remember this one incident where she attempted to follow a recipe for peanut butter chicken, as gross as it sounds for mixing those two ingredients, it tasted even worse. The dog threw up that night because there were four of us generously feeding him under the table. I became a connoisseur at magically making my dinner disappear anywhere but into my mouth and belly when she was cooking. Needless to say at the ripe age of 10 I realized I had a choice, to learn how to cook for myself and my family or possible starve to death from my moms failed attempts to cook. Being the young lil’ one that I was at the time of developing this passion I was lucky enough to be surrounded with several awesome people who actually knew how to cook and offer encouragement. Let’s all take a moment and say thank goodness for Grandma’s!!!
I was spoiled, having my Nana live directly across the street from our big old farmhouse and then on my mom’s side I had my Grandma Hamilton who I practically lived with during the weekends. On weekdays I would come home from school and scurry over across the road to my Nana’s who would teach me the essence of taking all the random things we had in the fridge and turning them into a delicious meal. We rarely had a recipe, but we always had ingredients.
As evening set on those days you would see me lugging a big old pot brimming full with Nana’s and mine new creation back across that old dirt road to share with my family for dinner. For Christmas I remember unwrapping bags of flour, brown sugar, and real vanilla and still to this day if you know me, the best present I can ask for is something that belongs in the kitchen.
Growing up we had a garden that was tilled every spring which veggies were picked from until after the first frost which we canned and froze anything that was left. At Grandma Hamiltons we had cows that the family all pitched in to upkeep. When it came time to butcher the cows, we would all split the meat product. At Uncle Harley’s we had a potato farm the whole family would gather at multiple times ever year to tend to the crop. It was almost like a big bbq but with a lot of work involved. Each little family that made up our big family would bring a dish to share that would be prepared for lunch each time we gathered. Once everybody arrived we would go trooping out into the fields to pitch in on the work that day working until the lunch bell rang. The seasons always started off with the first gathering consisting of tilling and planting the potatoes (mostly just cut up potatoes we had reaped from the year before being put back into the ground.) The next time we gathered it would be to just de-bug the potato plants, (walking around with jugs of gasoline, one by one picking the bugs off the plant putting them into our jugs to kill them). The end of the season would come bringing with it time to pick the crop which was always the most tedious. Uncle Harley and all the men would work the ancient tractor up and down the rows, digging up the potato plants while all the women and children would walk behind the tractor grouping the potatoes by color and size. Last but not least we would go up and down the rows bagging our potato piles into big potato sacks. Each family would go home with several of these full potato sacks. We never had a reason to buy potatoes from the store. Chickens and turkeys were in our own backyard and it was my little brother’s responsibility to collect their eggs and feed them. (I have a funny story about this responsibility I will share with you another time.) Pigs came from the family down the road, the Shisslers, they raised the pigs which we purchased full-grown and had butchered. Seeing a pig killed and skinned was probably the grossest, most scarring thing in my life causing me to stop eating meat for a while.
So by now you are either thinking I am Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie or making all this up because nobody lives like this anymore. Sharing all this with you my friends brings a nostalgia I can’t begin to describe. I am now 25 years old living in San Diego, in some people’s opinions the best city you can ask for. However I struggle to find the quality and purity of the food I once took for granted back home. Even more I experience disappointment watching a fast growing obese nation. Children are our future, our health is our future and corporations and the food production industry are doing little to bring it back to the basics. Instead they going the complete opposite direction enhancing and stuffing our foods full of chemicals, fillers, growth hormones and who knows what else.
So I invite you on my journey to bring it back to the basics. Delicious is my goal. Healthy is the idea. Easy and affordable are the necessities.