I’m sitting in my kitchen waiting for bread to toast. This bread is stuff I made from my own bread culture (aka sourdough starter). I’ll be spreading on some homemade mayo, and slathering a healthy serving of very flavorful veggie bean paste. I don’t say this to brag, because I’m quite surprised this is even my reality. Even more surprising is that this isn’t some fluke occurrence where I spent the day making up some special things from scratch. I have another loaf in the oven as I write, and plan to bake about twice a week. These things are regular sights in my kitchen.
I often wonder to myself: How the hell did I get here? I have to be honest that I am home all day every day. I take care of my two young children, who are fairly low needs and spend significant chunks of time playing together. But many of the things I do don’t really require lots of time. Sure, not everyone is going to go into baking bread twice a week with their own culture (or even store bought yeast) and I’m not sure I’d be doing it if I was working full time. However, the veggie bean paste was super easy, and definitely something I would make as a working Mom. I didn’t get here from having tons of time. I did it by making little changes, and before I knew it they had all added up to something pretty big.
Here comes the big philosophy rant. I’ve become quite philosophical as I get older. I always thought of myself as very practical, logical, and I still am. I also have developed some strong convictions based on many of my experiences. One of those convictions is that I can’t focus on the big goal. Yes I mean it! Forget your dream of what you wish things could be, but know you’ll never have the time/resources/skills/magical powers to do. OK so maybe you shouldn’t forget it, but set it aside for a while. For me it can be so overwhelming to look at the big picture. I’m not one of those people who gets charged and excited by the idea of impossible goals.
I was reading a really interesting piece the other day on Mother Earth News about somebody’s yard turned biodiverse garden [Gardening for Biodiversity]. I was thinking things like, “Ohh that’s lovely. I wish I could do that.” or “I could never have a yard like that, I’m no good at gardening.” The author Carla Resknick writes about how it started with a perfect grassy lawn with tons of ivy. She started replacing the ivy here and there with various plants. She focused on useful plants that either produced things she could use, or contributed to the ecology of her yard. The end result was something that I found quite beautiful yet unattainable for me.
My Own “Unattainable” Accomplishments
When I think about the bread, and mayo, and bean paste, I realize I didn’t get here overnight. It started with a love of cooking, and building some skills. I learned how to make a few meals from scratch. It continued with that, and moved on to things like making pasta from scratch as a fun experiment. Pretty soon I was buying big cans of plain tomato and making all my pizza sauces, spaghetti sauces, and other tomato based sauces myself (super easy really). I was still buying store made crusts, but eventually decided to try buying raw dough. Today I regularly make my own dough. I’ve said it before, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
I sometimes feel bad because all I write and talk about is cooking. However, when I think about it food is such a huge part of our lives. Food, water, and suitable shelter are the most basic needs we could have. After that comes love and companionship. Why shouldn’t I spend lots of my time and energy on making food for myself and the ones I love? I know what’s in the food I’m making them. I’m spending much less money on tasty artisanal foods by making it myself. It’s a lofty goal, but looking back it was a slow and steady process that started no less than 10 years ago. You don’t have to be someone special to change your food ways and meet lofty goals. Just start with something small and manageable.
So, back to that garden. I think I can do it. I’m in an apartment, so I’ll have to start small. As small as a handful of seeds in a repurposed crock*. The package says in 7-10 days we should have some little green shoots, the beginnings of our chives.