In early January, when school was still out for the holidays, we had a playdate scheduled at my friend Liz’s house. The plan was a pitch-in lunch, so I threw bread, cheese, and fruit into a bag. I was about to start my diet, and had thawed a frozen jar of GAPS-friendly creamy cauliflower soup to take for myself.
We got the kids settled, had a cup of tea, and I put my quart of soup in a pot to simmer on her stove. We chatted away, and fifteen minutes later I looked over to see that it had curdled into a disgusting mess. I had no idea what had happened, but supposed it had something to do with the soup being frozen? It looked completely inedible, so I sadly dumped the whole thing down the sink.
Later at home, as I unpacked from our excursion, I opened the fridge to see a quart of creamy cauliflower soup, staring me mockingly in the face. In an instant, I realized that I had simmered a fresh quart of homemade yogurt for our lunch. I texted Liz, and her reply was laughingly there’s something to say for labeled, store-bought food. I couldn’t argue her point.
This morning, after snapping these photos of the contents of my chaotic fridge, I sat down with a sigh. It’s a lot of energy to keep up with everything in there — not just from a production standpoint, but organizationally. Tim has been a champ through this all — once quietly requesting that I at least label the jars that contain yogurt (rather than coconut milk or cauliflower soup, they all look the same) so he would know what to eat for breakfast w/o having to smell the contents.
I just did the math, and figure I spend at a minimum 5 hours every day in my kitchen. I’m an introvert, so for me this isn’t terribly difficult — minus the dishes, I usually like the work. But it does, truly, get old. Especially when I have many other things I need or want to do instead (like this week, I’m trying to upcycle a thrifted cocktail dress, to turn it into the prom dress I wish I’d worn back in 1988 — FYI, for a prom-themed party, not simply to rectify any personal prom regrets).
Anyway, there’s been a hoopla recently. Articles in the press that question whether or not women who make the choice to spend their time on domestic activities such as canning, homesteading, urban gardening, and chicken-raising are causing a giant step backward in the efforts of feminism. Others that ask whether or not new domestics are portraying a fantasy world that is completely out-of-touch with the past, romanticizing a life of pioneering that was nothing but hard (no over-exposed photos of home-cooked goods served on vintage dishes in the history books).
I don’t want to argue a person’s right or interest in asking these questions — I am nothing if not critical of movements and ideas, and relish environments where those discussions can intelligently occur. I also readily admit, with sadness, that many on my side of the domestic debate attach a veil of dogma that does nothing but polarize (of course the same exists on the other side).
When I looked into my refrigerator, and was inspired to take a picture, it wasn’t out of a This-Is-What-Everyone-Should-Be-Doing mentality — it was truly more of a THIS-IS-CRAZY mentality. I can’t rearrange those jars in my fridge for the umpteenth time and not chuckle at myself. I’m embarrassed for people to look in my icebox. I’m not ashamed of how we eat, but I dread the explanation. It is, in a word, extreme — and I know it.
This is a ton of work. It gets to me. My husband worries. I can’t get it all done. But so far I wake up and choose to do it, every day. I see the benefits already (and trust me — I would have quit long ago if I hadn’t). In my own kitchen, this is not about feminism, not about living in a delusional history lesson (except when I imagine I’m the fourth sister on Little House — but that’s pure survival fantasy), not about a moral imperative. It’s quite simply about doing what I think is good for me, and for my kids — our present and future health. It is my last-ditch effort.
But no one else has to do it. That’s one reason that — even though my new diet could have me eating grain-free for the next year — I don’t want to turn this into a grain-free blog. Or a GAPS diet blog. Or an anything blog, other than cooking, and cooking from scratch, locally when possible (but you knew that, and kept reading, right?).
So no thrifted dishes today (ahem, but perhaps later this week) — just the unlabeled, messy, fermented, brothy, soupy canning jars of my refrigerator (if I could look into my brain these days, it might look about the same). No cause, no soapbox.
Just the way life is.
This post was my first link up to Just Write.