Let's Cook!!

You do have the skills to cook a meal! You do have the time to cook!

Before I indulge- you might be wondering what this has to do with skincare. Everything! Our skin is a mirror to our health. Cut back on preservatives in your diet and I’m certain you’ll notice improvement in your complexion. Start connecting with your food, and you might notice what sets your stomach off or causes inflammation. Our bodily organs do not function separate from one another :)

Cooking should not be a difficult or daunting task, and it saddens me that so many companies are perpetuating this idea that you are too busy to cook, doing dishes is awful, you don’t have time to grocery shop and you don’t know how to shop for the right ingredients. Chopping vegetables, seasoning meat, boiling a stock are all simple endeavors that connect us directly to our food.

In my home, we cook. We cook every night, and if we aren’t eating leftovers for lunch, we are cooking lunch. We are scrambling fresh laid eggs in the morning with greens and bits of venison sausage. One of us chops onion while the other splashes oil into an iron skillet. We’re laughing, venting, flirting, indulging with one another. When family gets together, there is food. Do you want the family gossip? All you have to do is start chopping veggies for your auntie and wait about 5 minutes. Food brings us together in a way when so many things seems to be pushing us apart.

And yet there are still days where I am tired, and I am cooking alone. I am silently chopping vegetables, whisking a roux and searing meat. Perhaps I am frying zucchini or potatoes, or slicing french bread to crisp up in the skillet. I can guarantee to you, that while I might have felt my mind existing elsewhere at the start of my meal - did I pay that bill? I have to call so and so.. etc. My mind eventually brings itself present with the food. Cooking is the easiest way for me to find presence. It demands my attention in a way that feels like a welcomed hug.

Today we rely on packaged foods to an extent that food not packaged in colorful labels seems less food like. Ugh. That will take a while to prepare- I’ll just buy the pre-chopped squash in this plastic bag.

These decisions might “save time” but now we are missing out on connecting directly with the food. How else can we show gratitude for the food we cook if not when we peel, slice and dice it, season it and sauté ? No matter your diet of choice, no matter the label you use, if you aren’t cooking your own food even once a week, how are you connecting to your food?

It is not that you do not have the skills. We all have the skills to feed ourselves. There are more advanced cooking techniques that might seem daunting, or our friend’s might like to flex on us at dinner parties (I’m guilty of kitchen flexing!), but that does not mean we can not take the time to prepare a simple and delicious meal.

The other day I saw a $40 container of Vanilla Powdered Bone Broth at Whole Foods. That made me irritated. Bone Broth is so simple and cheap to make. It’s filled with glucosamine, collage, minerals, vitamins, proteins. It’s easily digestible and tastes delicious. So why would we overly process it, in part removing the key components of Bone Broth that make it so fabulous, to the point of being tasteless enough to flavor with Vanilla. Why is our society so keen on everything being so quick, easy and pre-packaged that we gloss over the ridiculous amount of resources needed to do this to food in the first place.

Eating local, fresh home cooked foods is one of the best ways to recognize and address your carbon footprint. While eating a plant based diet is of course wonderful for the planet, are you buying packaged vegetables grown far away because they are currently out of season in your area? Are you eating food that’s derived from the protein of this other food and flavored with this other food and now sold in a handy on the go package that will fill your stomach for a few hours? I’m not implying that I haven’t indulged, purchased or relied on products like this, because I have. What I’m hoping to spark is the thought before we consume. Could I have taken 10 minutes last night to prepare snacks for today instead of buying this? If the answer is Yes, try carving 10 minutes out tonight. It might not always be an option, but finding ways to not be so busy that you can’t feed yourself is worth the extra energy!

I have been on and off of EBT about four times in the past 4 years. That often meant ramen noodle packets with an egg and some greens. Toss that seasoning packet and replace it with bone broth, there’s a seriously delicious meal. I have relied on government assistance for feeding myself with a budget of less than $200 a month. This budget forced me to become creative and learn ways to maximize my EBT dollars for the best nutritional meal. Instead of buying Kombucha for $4 a bottle, I bought a $5 scoby on etsy (not EBT), and a $3 box of black tea to make my own. Instead of buying chicken stock, I asked the butcher for any necks or feet he might have so I could make 5x the amount of the box for 1/3 of the price.

So— in response to my love of cooking, I will be sharing a new recipe once a month on the blog. I’ll share some of my absolute favorite recipes, some Cajun specialties, and some food preservation skills too! Some of these recipes may not apply to you, and that is ok! Also- I am not a food photographer. I am so bad at "styling food” and don’t have an interest in creating photoshoots of my food, I just want to share some recipes that I love! Expect photos, but don’t count on them being food blogger level ;)

My hope is to share small meaningful ways to increase our nutritional intake while making decisions that are affordable and thoughtful. Even if we decide to say “Fuck it” and make a meal that’s easy and packaged, at least we took the time to make that decision, if only for a split second!

Before I start sharing recipes on my blog, I want to acknowledge that I eat meat. Meat comes from dead animals. In our society, animals are bred to grow as quickly as possible so they can get to slaughter sooner and end up in plastic packaged cuts of meat in the grocery store. One way to lessen your participation on demand for this type of meat production is to get up early on a Saturday and pick up cuts of meat from the farmer’s market. If you are on EBT, this might not be an option. But if this is an option for you, I encourage this! It tastes SO much better than any grocery cut of meat, supports a small farm and puts less demand on industrial agriculture!! It is my belief that if you are going to consume meat, you must be aware and ok with the reality of where it came from. I can always go into my stance on this later, but for now, I want to acknowledge that I eat meat, animal products, and will always utilize as much of that animal as possible in my cooking.

I raise backyard chickens for eggs. We named all five of them. So, no, they will never be on my dinner table. One day, we will raise chickens with no names. But until then, Eggs it is.

I want to also note that while I cook a majority of my meals, I still eat out at restaurants. I still buy meat at the grocery store when I have to. I do have some packaged snacks in my cabinet. I am not hardcore in the sense that I will label myself, or refuse a meal lovingly cooked by family if it does not fit into my personal at home standard of food preparation. Why? Because there’s already so much out there trying to shame us. I want to enjoy life, and I won’t confine myself too strongly that I will deny a delightful meal with family. So with that being said, get ready for next week’s blog post featuring a new recipe for you to try!

For anyone feeling inspired to cook, might I suggest watching Michael Pollan’s Cooked on Netflix? Also, check out Leanne Brown’s Cookbook for cooking with EBT! The PDF is free to download and is a great source of inspiration for switching it up, planning ahead, and feeling abundant on a budget.