Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Hidden Art of Homemaking - Chapter 8


One of my favorite topics. A favorite topic for most of us. Just do a search online for your favorite dish, or an ingredient from your pantry shelf, or something you've been craving. You'll come up with pages and pages of choices for recipes and how-to's and 'pins' and blog posts. Everyone is talking about food!

I took a poll this morning - "What do you think of when I say 'food'?"
E answered "There are so many different kinds of food. I can't think of just one"
G answered "Sometime, I think I want to try lobster."
N answered "Mashed Potatoes!"
R answered "Sometimes I dream about food." I couldn't help myself.
I asked her "What kind of food do you dream about?
Her answer?  "hhmmm, well, oatmeal. . ." (can you guess what we had for breakfast?) ". . . oh, and cereal, and toast. . ." I won't go on, but you get the picture.

Edith Schaeffer approaches this topic with an enthusiastic and serving attitude. She points out, once again, that it's really all about communication. Sure it's about nutrition and sustenance. But it's much more. Sharing a meal with friends and family, or a warm drink when you come in out of the cold, or a small snack in the midst of a chaotic day brings people together. It's a bonding experience. It can help you relax and unwind. We have special foods to help us celebrate holidays and memorable events. It can comfort the sick and build up the discouraged. It ministers to the soul.

In this day and age, we can easily serve up dinner straight from boxes and packages and bags. While these conveniences can ease up the stress of getting food on the table, with some preparation and forethought we can serve up wonderful meals for our families and our guests on a regular basis. A little planning goes a long way. God The Creator has provided us with an amazingly diverse array of foods. Think about color and texture and size and shape. The possibilities are endless!
There are steps I take that help me accomplish the goal of putting healthy and tasty meals on the dinner table. At the beginning of each month I take requests from family members for meal ideas. I make note of special occasions such as holidays or birthdays. I peek in the pantry and freezer to see what I have on hand. With all this in mind, and using my Master Menu List, I put together a list of meals I'd like to have ready and available through the coming month. This is the foundation for my shopping list. And then of course, I tie on my apron and roll up my sleeves for my Big Cooking Day. This is how I plan. It may not be how you plan. The operative word here is 'plan'. Have a plan. Work your plan.
Another way to get more balanced meals into my family is to think about color. I like to have a variety of colors on each plate. If I'm serving baked chicken, with potatoes and corn, I might add a green salad and cooked carrots.  Like an artist's pallet. This makes the food pleasing to the eye, adds in more variety, more vitamins and minerals.  I also have a thing about textures. If I serve spaghetti, I could serve green beans - regular cut green beans, not french-style. Spaghetti noodles are long and stringy, so are french-style green beans. Not as appetizing, in my book. Crazy, I know, but that's how my mind works.
Mrs. Schaeffer stressed the importance of variety and how we should not get stuck in a rut by serving the same week after week. Though I do like making my menus interesting, I find having some routine simplifies life and reduces the stress of meal planning and preparation. When my far-away daughter calls to chat and asks 'what are you having for dinner?' it brings back memories for her when I answer 'Tacos'.  She says "Oh, yeah! It's Monday. I should have know -- Monday is Mexican night!" You should see how the troops get up-in-arms around here if they find out we are NOT having pizza on Friday night!
Now, there are times when I do not have the luxury or budget to serve up vast varieties of gourmet dishes. I'm all about using what you have, staying within your means. But even beans and rice can be served up on a pretty dish, or sprinkled with an extra bit of seasoning can make a simple, inexpensive dish impressive.

Working together in the kitchen is a wonderful way to bring everyone together. My family all pitches in during harvest season to peel and chop tomato, pepper and onions so that we can enjoy our own salsa all year round. My kiddos enjoy forming their own little balls of bread dough into interesting shapes while I form loaves of whole wheat bread. A rite of passage in our family is taking over pizza making. My 'teens' make fantastic pizzas, enjoying each others' company and catching up on the latest while they are at it. Today we are going to create some Easter treats together so we can have something special for our Sunday celebration. They learn so much by working with their hands, and they love eating up their own creations!
I especially enjoyed the story Edith Schaeffer shared from the early years of her marriage, in the days when hobos and tramps would frequent the doorsteps of homes near the railroad yards. They were hungry, she could provide a bite to eat. She and her two young children would prepare a tray with simple sandwiches, dressed up to become a feast for a stranger. She'd slip a small New Testament in so he could feed his soul as well as his stomach. What a wonderful way to teach by example, to disciple her children, to plant seeds for eternity. Some may think the 'tramps' were taking advantage of her, but she took the advantage to let grow creatively.

I have a lot to think on as I set the table for may family, or gather them to work in the kitchen. My meal planning is done for the month, the week (thanks to Menu Plan Monday) but I'll be looking to how I can artfully serve my family each day.

There is so much more in this chapter, I can't address it all in one post. I'm hoping to add more of my how-to's in my Monday posts.

This post will be linked up to My Homey Haven for our weekly Book Study.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading about you food presentation. I'm one who likes to have some variety, but it's nice to have an idea on how to plan. I know that Monday's are crazy for dinner so I plan eggs. Usually scrambled, but sometimes I add variation to add interest.


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