I’m watching Cooked, the documentary series on Netflix featuring Michael Pollan, and I was inspired to share my life with respect to some of the ideas presented in the show.
Namely, home cooked meals.
My family eats most of our meals at home, and almost all of them are made from scratch.
Scratch cooking means the meals are made from fresh ingredients. Therefore, we don’t eat a lot of meals made from ingredients that are pre-cooked or processed, except a few (canned sardines/tuna, organic salsa, BBQ sauce, etc).
Sadly, it’s not what’s going on in most American homes anymore. Michael Pollan points out in Cooked that as the amount of time cooking went down, obesity went up. I’m not surprised.
Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I get such a rush from cooking this way. I think making meals from scratch is beautiful, especially when I’m connected to my food by knowing my farmer, fisherman, and rancher. When I cut into an orange that was grown in my mom’s yard, and the light hits it just right so I see the misty spray coming from the peel, and I smell the intense aroma… I get chills from the thrill.
In fact, my Amazon wish list is filled with pots, quality utensils, and other kitchen gadgets I want in my collection. When a birthday or holiday comes around, I ask for these things. Do I ask for clothes, purses, or shoes? No. I ask for a Le Creuset pot or a fancy ice cream machine or a beautiful salt collection.
I’ll admit not every meal I make is a success, in spite of the time I put into it. I also recognize that making all of these meals isn’t always easy. I experience a large part of my life in the kitchen preparing food, shopping for food, cleaning up after cooking (there are so many dishes to wash!). But… At least I know what’s in my food. I approve of the ingredients. I don’t have to wonder.
Scratch cooking, for me, was a process that occurred over the years as I learned more and became more confident in the kitchen. I took classes, I asked mom and dad questions, I read cookbooks, and I practiced. I didn’t read just any books on food though, I read books about how to shop for produce, what spices go well together, and the science behind cooking.
As a result, my comfort level in the kitchen has grown tremendously. For the most part, I can fix my messes, and if I can’t, I still know the meal was made with wholesome organic ingredients, which compensates for any culinary mishaps, at least in my opinion.
My meals are pure, organic, and prepared just the way I want. And, aside from the obvious nutrition reasons, it comes back to Chop Wood Carry Water for me. I enjoy the process. The kitchen draws me in… if I’m not making something I’ll find something to make.
I love making sauces, soups, and stews. I love scrambling eggs with veggies and raw cheese. I like chopping fresh produce, and I looooove building flavors with seasonings and herbs. I make red sauces with fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market, bone broth like I’m a witch with a cauldron filled of various bones, whole-fat creamy yogurt, refreshing kefir, gut health-promoting cultured veggies/sauerkraut, and I even make butter (it’s really easy actually, but, it does take 10 minutes of my day). I’m in the process of learning how to make sourdough bread (#notglutenfree), and I’m still learning. I like my home to smell amazing and inviting. Sometimes the aromas are so intense I can smell them when I pull into the garage. I like, well, cooking.
Scratch cooking in its most simple form for me… sweat some leek in butter or ghee, add diced organic bell pepper, fresh herbs, and seasonings. Add grass-fed ground beef. Cook it a bit. A delicious and healthy dinner is done.
Or, get a slow cooker, chop the veggies you have on hand and throw them in. Add some liquid, whether it’s homemade bone broth, tea, water, beer/wine, or a mix of all of the above. Add grass-fed or pasture-raised meat. Put the lid on and let it work for you all day.
The cook stands squarely between nature and culture. ~Michael Pollen
We should be cooking our foods at home with love… with time… with wholesome, organic, and fresh ingredients, when possible. We should be saving restaurant adventures as a rare occurrence to experience other foods, take a break, and to even be inspired for home cooking by tasting new flavors.
My most cherished memories are of the foods mom used to make when she stayed home taking care of us. The smells, the tastes, and the time with mom in the kitchen. I loved it.
I want to pass that on to Kamea. I want to share the knowledge, skills, and love of nourishing meals so she has her own wonderful memories.
Even though I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen, there are ways to make it easier and faster if you’re tight on time…
Tips to make homemade meals easier:
- Streamline the meal-planning process. For example, we usually have wild-caught salmon on Thursday nights, sardines on Sunday, and wild-caught roe for breakfast on Tuesdays (here’s my trick for eating roe). Twice a week we have grass-fed beef. A couple nights a week we have vegetarian dinners. Planning it helps me budget my time and get a loose idea of the nutrients we’re getting.
- Use a slow cooker or sous vide to make nourishing meals with less hands-on time. Slow cooker (easy) chicken soup here.
- During the weekend, when you have more time, cook large batches of food that serve to feed your family for multiple meals (like my Big-Ass Brisket).
Here are some meals that I can make in less than 15 minutes.
I also like to make my own salad dressings. Here are some dressings for you to try:
- Honey Avocado Mustard
- Sweet Capri
- Ginger Shallot
- 60-Second Ranch Dressing
- Simply Vinaigrette
- Horseradish Mustard
- 4-Ingredient Magic Dressing