Monthly Archives: April 2011

the pursuit of made-from-scratch-ness

Pumpkin pie filling.  Spaghetti sauce.  Applesauce.  Broth.

Is this my grocery list?  No.  But, if I needed one of these items, a grocery store is likely where I’d go to get it.  Duh.

A few months ago, however, it occurred to me that I’ve taken for granted the fact that pretty much any foodstuff that I might need or desire is available for me to purchase at a nearby grocery store.  And I don’t mean “take for granted” in the way that most Americans never experience hunger or any want of food–for this fact, we truly are blessed, and we should be mindful of that.  No, I mean the phrase in the sense that I live in a society where modern technology, agribusiness and economies of scale make possible the mass production, transport and sale of food throughout the country.  What I have to eat each day does not depend on what my husband and I can grow, harvest, butcher, preserve and store for ourselves; the marketplace does that for us, and we only need to purchase it.

My mother used to jar her own pickles and jams.  Those were delicious treats that we could enjoy for a limited time each year, until the supply in our basement ran out.  Then we bought some Vlassics and Smuckers to refill our cupboards.  The supermarket was always on stand-by.

I recently began to wonder: what if I did have to make every thing that I ate from scratch and preserve fruits and vegetables at harvest time if I wanted the pleasure of eating them in the winter?  Well, as a lawyer and an urban dweller, that would be a difficult lifestyle to keep up.  But I am interested in trying out the traditions of food preservation and other realms of made-from-scratch-ness.  🙂

I’m starting this blog as a way to document and share my experiences trying food preservation techniques and other cultural and made-from-scratch food preparations.  For a long while now, I have enjoyed cooking meals as a way to relax and slow down at the end of a long, busy work day, to accomplish something wholesome and to create something nourishing for myself and my husband.  In recent months, I have found myself leaving my busy week of litigating and entering the weekend with a plan for what my “food project” would be for that Saturday or Sunday.  (For example, last September, my  husband and I went to a local farm, picked organic San Marzano tomatoes, paid a per pound price and then took the tomatoes home to simmer, sieve and freeze as a big batch of tomato sauce.)  I approach each food project as a novice and explorer, and learning a new skill and completing a food project is so satisfying.  It’s exciting to make the sort of food that, if you shared it with friends, they would say “You made this?” and they would be impressed because people these days just don’t prepare such foods–they purchase them.

I hope my blog inspires others to try their own food projects!