It has only happened once… maybe twice, when I have tasted a grape, the kind with seeds inside and I could taste my childhood. There was a forgotten grape vine in my backyard yet I was always there, as a child, gleaning from that wild vine…
Within every suburban/urban yard there is life! Life in those flower beds, life in that green grass, life in the city limit lot that you now own or rent. We, as North Americans, mostly maintain own our little city plots of land…this is what we have, this is what we work with, this is our claim.
I have a dream to live in the country one of these days…Oh yes, one of these days I want to live and breathe and smell the country air with all of my heart and soul. However, today is not that day… and if everyone wanted to live in the country we would no longer have country.
The city is an interesting place, an energetic magnet of thousands upon thousands of people with voices and opinions; diversity pulsing through it’s ebb and flow… and of course there are the real-time responsibilities of jobs and needs and homes and yards and…yet… within the crazy hectic beating heart of the civic lands there is the inherent desire to stretch out, the appetite to smell the roses so to speak; to reach our arms high into the patterns of the sky and shout, “I- am – Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!” Like wild beasts raising our chests to the thunder of freedom after the lightning strikes.
I know we all feel that. I know we all want that. I know… because I feel it too.
I say, make revolution where you are at. Anywhere that you stand. Peaceful revolution. I am!… OR more honestly– I WANT TO! That is why I write! I desire to write with the voice that I want to be and the vision and hopes and dreams and the current of what is and what I want to see.
I cannot say that my humble garden, a first year gardener, as a rudimentary edible creationist, is ever going to make front page news! However, I can say that we can make use of our lots in a simple kind of way… we can make some amazing things out of our small or regular sized plots of earth. You and I, let us do this together. Far and wide, close and cozy, let us do this collectively! With each garden, each edible landscape; with every bit of bee and butterfly friendly plants measured into your safe and anti-chemical yards; we can create a revolution together. Not one little humble garden but many!
I have heard those doubts in my mind of, “Oh I will farm or garden or grow things or take care of animals when I move away from the city, when I have more room.” OR “I am too busy right now, and I don’t have a spot for a garden.” Anywhere that there is earth you can grow, I can grow, life will thrive if we let it!
There is no longer space for that doubtful frame of mind. I know far too many revolutionary artisans of the urban garden, caretakers of the backyard chickens, and makers of bee-keeping whom all live within the city in their regular lots… hence I can no longer say, “yes, let’s wait till we have more room to grow…”
NO! I am here in my city home, I can grow a garden… Then what is next, what more will happen later? I know that by taking one small baby step forward, new things will be added, life is happening. You can take a stroll through my humble garden. It would take you 1 or 2 minutes to see all there is to see within my 3 long coffin-like garden beds streaming with life. I am a writer so I passionately write on what fills me with inspiration, even the most simplistic of things; I write as if it is the most epic happenstance of all of history. I am daily filled by an outpouring of affection for my humble little first time garden and I am excited about what may grow from this.
I know many neighbors and friends that may have organic life exploding out of their yards, much more than I do; more robust with more seeds sowed and massive amounts harvested and I envy such beauty, in a loving-awestruck way. I am thankful for their example and efforts and I hold them as exemplary humans to seek wisdom and understanding from.
You see, as a child, I was hardly taught to live like this, I wasn’t trained to be a gardener by example, but I was surely trained to be a consumer. Yet there were those every other weekend hikes in the summer months to “Terabithia” with my father where he taught me to dance with the trees of the forest, and to pick mushrooms and to smell the pines and firs of the great trees. I love him for that, He taught me the seeds of change in that particular way.
My father was the cultivator, a man whom I had no idea that he had wisdom to grow life until I was in high school and he started with the only garden that I can remember in a rental that we lived in on those rare weekends. I am sure he gardened before that, in fact I know he did; I grew up in the deserted remnants of his garden work, with wild grape vines and empty rabbit cages on that far side of our forgotten yard, but the garden in the backyard of his rental when I was 16 was the first one that I can remember him tending to.
So much of my life seems to have to do with what was lost… I want to cultivate and grow things, and in some way it makes me feel like I am re-birthing the empty spots of my childhood.
I am a feeler, one of those people that deeply senses everything. My intuition is on hyper drive and I can understand where most people are at. I think that comes with the territory of trying to find oneself at the same time.
My humble garden is growing better than I had ever expected! My modest suburban yard, it is nothing but yellowed grass under this sun-burnt summer sky. I am merely a writer, that expresses the simple things of every day life, if we all would just sit down and write about our little yards, wow what a phenomenal anthem that might be!
A pattern has evolved in the household of our FoStew domain (Fostew is the abbreviation I give to the valued names of our last name-hood combined in this household).
First, I have really engrossed myself in the mysterious and amazing world of compost… this elemental practice is the gateway into the beginnings of life as we know it in regards to the food chain. Now, that has lead me to think more actively about my daily actions of what can be re-used, recycled, or re-purposed. New ideas are hitting the fan all the time… for now it goes a little like this… learning and observing and enjoying the fascinating actions of simplistic practices that I find phenomenal (like a kid in a candy store), which I am just now taking hold of and realizing that a very many of us today (especially my generation and younger) do not practice similar customs that really should have continued to be passed on down the generations. My version of “age old cooking” and “recycling” and “reusing” is new to me, and old to me… it is a lot of information that I have gathered for years but have hardly put it into REAL practice… again, my efforts right now at this baby stage are truly simplistic compared to the hard work practice of my ancestors who are the real ambassadors of frugality… my learning has only just begun, because somewhere along the lines the traditions of simple homestead, earth making and sustainable practices for the most part have been deleted from the upbringing of today’s western society…but it begs me to wonder where was the fracture? Why have these traditions of re-using so much within the home, including the diet have come to an end in practical daily ritual for so many households in today’s world.
I know it was for me, until I became enlightened to the simplicity of the daily evaluation of intake, out-take and re-take; if that makes any sense. Another thing that I have thought about is that for so long I have studied and known so many facts and with a head full of knowledge I could spout out many things that are good for us and good for the earth but in practice only a few things would meet my verbal standards. Admittedly, I am fond of knowledge and get thoroughly excited as a sanguine personality type can sometimes be shallow and thus my attempts at following through with my heart spasms are not always finish line worthy, although not intended, but a track record of not finishing is indeed an old habit. That is why when practice and purpose takes form in my life, my heart is just leaping forward!! My actual current practice and progression in life is slow on the get go right now because I want to actually create a lifestyle here and slow steps are the answer for me; creating habits to LIVE by. With these simplistic easy no brainer ways of conducting my home I would imagine that there are some people that may scoff saying, “That’s old news…” Well sure, it is old news, very old news and it is certainly too bad that this old news of simplicity is not practiced by a majority today. It is so simple that it baffles me as I learn to change habits in our home.
Do you follow me?.. I know, I am ranting. Lets begin with what has inspired me tonight:
Sundays have within the past few months become my ritual day of preparation for the week. Today I started dinner with the help of my daughter. My son was engrossed in Legos and my daughter was begging to help. My son, also begs to help but tonight he was not interested. My husband was out chopping wood all day to provide enough wood to heat our home for the next year and even though today is not a formal “work day” I consider it a day of rest for this human whom provides every bit of bread and butter for this family.
I am a feminist, and to me the word feminist really stands for “equalist”… it is a term that defines a way of life involving the awareness and activism and progression ascending towards a way of equality, therefore it goes both ways in regards to gender… specifically gender is not a question, yet socially it often is… we are both humans, we love each other, we work together and we both contribute to the household and that is pretty much it; the whole topic is really not all that complicated. Regardless of gender, my husband is the money maker by choice and I am the college student, the teacher of our children (in cahoots with a local home school geared educational program lead by certified teachers), and also a stay at the home madre… and we all know the work that comes along with that title…no need for the mile long list. This is our current set-up ONLY because we chose this path while we raise our children ( I could go into depth as to why we chose this path; pointing at how most men make more money than women, mostly pertaining to two individuals without a college degree… and so on…but I will save that for another time…however, to throw out a bit of thought my spouse would just love to do my job if I had the opportunity to have a position to work outside the home that would make the same or more than he makes…). I then as an equalist step forward with common sense and consider that my partner has worked very hard all day and I have also worked very hard, however, I consider my position as a place of freedom in comparison to his place of position at work, working under authorities and restrictions. Therefore, I find it liberating to be able to be the provider of meals and nourishment and health in our family. I attempt to do the simple necessities such as laundry, dishes, sweeping and so forth during the week. Usually on the weekends he and I both cook, both clean, both take care of household needs… it is an equal system, not an expected system.
OK so to the point of tonight’s blog entry: Tonight while cooking dinner, I am multi-tasking every single thing that I do and it hits me… I realized tonight that I have created a new pattern for myself and I am really stoked about this. As I explained above, this is all new to me, so when it really hits ground and I am actually doing it out of second nature and pattern; it feels pretty darn good.
I began with this… Cutting open acorn squash and erecting the seeds out of the middle and washing them in a strainer to set aside for slow roasted squash seeds in which to make later as a healthy snack. Also putting the squash guts into a giant stock pot I am preparing for bone broth. I then throw the squash in the oven on top of coconut oil and proceed to grab the thawed whole chicken out of my fridge. I holler over to my beloved because I am still dealing with allergic eczema issues on my hands, I feel hesitant to dive into the carcass of a whole chicken with my vulnerable fingers. He then preps the chicken, pulls out the neck and gizzards for me to re-use. We throw the gizzards into a pan to slow cook so that we can eat it on the side with our meal tonight, providing a hefty amount of protein, iron and zinc, as well as, vitamin B-12.
I then throw some chopped up leeks onto the cast iron pan with a spoonful of coconut oil and Himalayan sea salt… I let that sizzle for a minute while I hop over to the cutting board to chop up some fresh veggies (celery and carrots and onions) to the bone broth stock pot. Then I jump back to the cutting board for more work on tonight’s meal and choppity chop up some fresh Italian kale leaves to add to the leeks and then I threw a couple of diced garlic cloves into the mixture. I throw the stems of the kale into the stock pot. As that all simmers together, I boil some spelt noodles in a pot of water and then continue to work on the bone broth preparations, which is the staple of nutrition in our kitchen that has recently become a health revolution in this home!! Link for more info on health benefits.
The next step is to put the chicken and neck as well as the chicken feet into the stock pot. Let us not waste anything… the chicken feet included! What a gelatin rich broth you are missing out on without those feet! I fill the pot up with water and then add carrots, celery, 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, about 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, and left over vegetable pieces and egg shells that have been previously frozen from former meal preparations. Again let nothing go to waste. When chopping carrots make sure and save the carrot tops in your freezer, along with the tops of your leeks, the pieces of kale that you might not prefer if they are too tough, as well as, any vegetables that have just sat in your fridge that you would prefer to not eat but could just as well freeze and save for a broth. Also, I have recently learned from the advice of an acquaintance to keep egg shells and put them in your stocks. Basically anything that is edible; save the left over pieces and use them to create a nutritious addition to bone broth or compile left over vegetables to create an amazing vegetable broth. Keep it all in your freezer until the time is right. Such simple money saving practices that literally use every element of the meat and produce that you purchase. You wouldn’t believe how many years of veggie scraps were simply piled into the garbage or disposal after mindless cooking sessions in the kitchen.
My growing weekly compost pile from our family of 4 is also invigorating… with every meal I add to it, the little pieces left over from the cutting board, the apple cores, the banana peels, the avocado seeds and skin… the list goes on with every meal. I can’t help but to feel excited about the nutrition that I am planting into the earth from the organic material. I may be a total earth loving nerd, but I am telling you, this simple stuff really rocks my world!! If you are making vegetable broth from the vegetables that you freeze, after the broth is complete then simply add those veggies to the compost as well. Any and all vegetable scraps from your kitchen should be added to your compost container. This is the very first step of the practice of “re-using” which promotes the sustainability and health of your own backyard soil and garden and essentially the EARTH 🙂 !!!
Also, please note: you do not want to add vegetables that have been cooked with meat or meat products to your compost, it may attract animals such as raccoon’s etc. to your compost pile(s) and can create a pest control issue in your yard.
As we all know there is no paper or plastic these days that we should set inside the garbage can unless you have a specified recycling service that does not serve to recycle a certain number style of plastic. Look into that for your own area. I usually throw my recycling pile for the day into the far corner of one of my kitchen counters. Also, just a note, I am learning to request paper only, strictly learning to do this because of the issue with the form of plastic bags that are used at the grocery store, yet still I often forget… it is all about baby steps of progression and then as long as I am actively trying… one day it just suddenly fits, like a puzzle, stuck with me and BAM a habit is born.
In my house I generally hate clutter, I despise it actually, yet with life and children and busy days clutter is a constant battle…I have not gotten around to finding a bin to place under our sink in order to organize the clutter from recyclables, once I do, it will generally help out even more but in the meantime my counter corner works 😉 . Whatever works for you, just make sure that recycling goes out there. It truly makes a difference rather than just filling up our land with garbage heaped land fills.
Tonight, I look over at my chaotic kitchen with piles of recyclables a midst my re-use of many products and my creations of meal based staples for the week, usable veggies being tossed in the freezer, unwanted veggie scraps thrown in the compost, as well as, a meal for this evening and I feel pretty darn good. My whole chicken will create endless meals. Not only will the tender chicken last for 2 to 3 meals, the bone broth made, which is plumb full of vitality for the human body, will be used as soup broth, morning tea, and used to cook with rice or quinoa… basically most kitchen recipes that call for water, simply add broth. It is so useful and so nutritious! Also, I usually cook my whole chicken on simmer with chicken feet and bones and all the other goods for at least 10 to 24 hours… the longer the better! My daughter adds her job into the mix by pulling out the savory acorn squash from the oven and douses them with cultured butter, cane sugar and salt. I mix up the spelt noodles with the leek, garlic and kale and some fresh basil and chopped tomatoes. To top it off I celebrate this divine evening with a simple solitary glass of wine. Ahhhhhh tonight feels good.
And lastly out of all these neat and tidy photos, I would like to share with you an actual photo of the whole chaotic picture of my kitchen land… and yes, we do draw on our floor with sharpie markers. It is an old floor, why not have fun with it. 😉
With all that is expressed above I am doing this on a penny pinching budget… we have never been more “poor” than this time in our lives right now. So many expenses this year, but learning to create sustainable habits actually saves you money and you are eating a heck of a lot better.
This kitchen is a place where a lot happens and more is happening all of the time, the kitchen is a place where nutritious meals and tonics and staples are being created that fill our bodies with wholesome food and as I learn I continue to progress into a place that not only fills our bodies with good things but also gives back to the earth. Goodness all around. Not perfect yet, not even close, and hardly ever will be… waste still happens, but tonight I was stoked at the progression that is happening around here. Slow but progressive. I was not raised to cook like this. In fact, I was raised pretty darn awesome considering circumstances and I have no sense of lack from that perspective. However, I am joyful for the opportunity in my adulthood, and motherhood and personhood at this stage in my life to learn; to soak in the value of what good quality nourishment does to the human vessel and what the practice of sustainability in the kitchen can actually do for the environment around us… Imagine if this simple, easy cheesy puddin pie idea of sustainable practices in the kitchen, the stinken kitchen of all places, spread around the communities that we live in. Our earth would definitely say thank you and so would our bodies. Our purchases would begin to speak volume, as well as, the awareness we would experience as we begin to acknowledge the power of putting our money where our mouths are… supporting local farms and avoiding mass manipulative corporations that are controlled by only a few in this nation… imagine what the kitchen work of men and women of households can do with their simple actions. I am enlightened by this simple domestic revolution… 😉
And as I learn I continue to learn AND as I learn I continue to LEARN… and each time I learn I realize that these values are so darn simple… what have we lost within so many generations… practices of our ancestors that can speak wisdom into our lives TODAY.