Thursday, November 13, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Two Kids? Unpredictable

I think I've mentioned before (many times) that neither Matt nor I are either able or willing cooks, that I have caused numerous kitchen fires, that Matt has never caused a kitchen fire mostly because he confines himself to boiling tortellini and grilling things on his wee little George Foreman, that things that I make generally turn out weird and even though I know exactly why this happens (in a madcap manner, I make healthier and apparently unworkable substitutions, and I treat all amounts and times as approximate), I can't seem to stop myself from keeping on doing it...

Y'all, this book is gonna change my life

Barbara Kingsolver is awesome, and if you haven't read her before, read The Bean Trees: A Novel and The Poisonwood Bible, too, but first read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Sure, the premise is cool--she and her family eat locally for a year, growing a huge garden, befriending local farmers, raising chickens and turkeys for eggs and meat, learning to make cheese, etc.--but it is all integrated within a larger discussion of the ethics of food production, food transportation, food pricing, in just a clear-headed, evocative, plain-spoken manner.

If anything can inspire me to cook at all, much less locally, this book can.

Of course, I obviously ran right out to Bloomingfood's with the girls to buy some wholesome, locally grown produce, and of course the prices nearly knocked the food ethic right out of me. I mean yeah, we try to eat healthfully and organically, but we're also totally dirt poor--we buy organic milk just for the girls because I don't want them to go through puberty at age seven, and I was thanking god that the College Mall Kroger's put in a big, swanky natural foods section so that I could buy bulk nutritional yeast and rolled oats without having to save up. The smack end of the growing season, and Bloomingfood's, was possibly not the best place for a dirt-poor family of four to begin their locavore adventure: I ended up with two locally grown tomatoes, four apples, some milk, and some cheese.

And, um, a sprouting jar? Don't even ask, cause I. Don't. Know.

Anyway, at least when we got home it was a fine afternoon for a change, so I got a chance to rake what used to be here----over the tops of my brand-new lasagna garden beds (although the prospect of the leaf vacuuming team driving by and sucking up all my lasagna beds, which are near the road, is DESTROYING me!), and the girls got to goof around outside a little:
Then, in honor of Barbara Kingsolver, I did not turn to the girls and say, "Peanut butter or cheese? Name two fruits or vegetables," which is how, um, I usually feed them. Instead, we made a whole wheat pizza crust from scratch and, praise be (or perhaps it was the salt and soda I snuck in), the mess actually rose this time, and we all got our own quadrant of deliciousness to decorate: Yummy looking, right? Things like that don't usually come out of our kitchen. Syd did up her lower left quadrant in mozzarella, grape tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and one artichoke; Will did hers in brussels sprouts, one tomato, and one artichoke, Matt had all tomato, and I had pepperjack (local, thank you very much) and artichoke.

And oranges are for making faces with: P.S. I've got tutorials for these here and here, but I also have some new handmade blank books and a set of bigger Christmas-colored crayons up on my etsy shop.


Abby said...

i bought that book for my dad last xmas, and he LOVED it.

scott doesn't like for me to do the grocery shopping, because i spend like 200 bucks - and then we still have nothing to make for dinner. thank god for him.

sprouting jars! scott sprouts lentils and makes a kick ass sprouted lentil salad. he used to run a raw + vegan cafe in atlanta, so he knows all kinds of healthy raw recipes. so fresh and tasty. you'll have to ask him for some tips, cause you know, i have no idea. i just eat here, most the time. :)

Abby said...

brussel sprouts on pizza! willow's my kind of girl.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I must have a dirty mind because when I read "his wee little George Foreman", I about had a laughing fit. Sorry...hope no kids are reading this! ;D

Dh read the book, and I listed to most of it on books-on-CD (I love MCPL). I adore her writing! I also saw her do a reading of this book, complete with a slideshow presenation, on C-Span or some such channel that I wouldn't otherwise be watching if I weren't stuck in DE a couple of yrs ago when we went to visit dh's dad. She's a wonderful presenter/reader too!

I'm like Abby...send me into a grocery store, and I'll buy stuff that dh doesn't cook with and would still have blown a bunch of money. It never ceases to amaze me because we do grow a lot of our own food, and we still spend more than I think we ought to be.

cake said...

i read her book a couple of months ago, and was so inspired, we went on a canning binge in the late summer. her mozzarella recipe is as easy as she makes it sound, too (and yummy).

i'll be interested to find out how the sprouting goes.

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julie said...

It's so funny, because Kingsolver's whole point was how she did not break the bank at all to eat locally and organically for a year, but whenever I've tried, I've just found it absurdly expensive. And mind you, I don't think that food should be super-cheap (Matt does, but I don't). My philosophy about organic meat and milk, for instance, is that it should be expensive because that's one way we know they're giving quality treatment to the cows, and we just shouldn't abuse the foods by eating them all the time. But veggies and fruits? We should eat them all the time!

The key to Kingsolver's position, I suppose, is to preserve a year's worth of whatever is in season in the time in which it is in season. I'll look forward to trying this next year.

Yeah, her mozzarella sounds awesome! And learning to sprout is high on my next to-do list--I'll obviously report on it ad nauseum.