Saturday, December 18, 2010

Going Off-Grid

Path at Bald Mountain....

When I talk to people about how cooking can add to their lives, I think about a list of tools that make things easier, greener and more exciting for this journey. I get some blank stares when I suggest to folks that cooking most meals at home while still maintaining a busy life is possible. I think back to my grandmother, Mormor. She cooked everything from scratch while being a farmer's wife, mother and running a busy rural house on a dairy farm in Connecticut. How did she do it? How did all of our grandmothers do it? Sometimes I think technology is taking up too much of our space, but I think too that the energy of life is different now and there is room for everything in our busy lives including room to think about and create food that is "off the grid" so to speak. The grid is the dream we plug into or the story we are told by society that we should be following to keep up with the pace of the busy world. I am part of the food revolution that is creating a new dream for how we feed ourselves.
When I first moved to California from Chicago ten years ago, I did not shop at farmers markets and did not subscribe to CSA's. I did not know any farmers. I had never been to a working farm that I ate food from. I did not think about how far food traveled to get to my plate.  I was clinical in my approach to nutrition and helping my clients. I relied on lab work, supplement companies and reading food labels. I walked through grocery stores in a matter of fact manner with my clients showing them "how to shop". It is not that I think I was missing the point back then, it is just that my view has grown to encompass all the parts of a person when I think of how they might change their lives in a way they are wanting for themselves. Older, wiser and more heart centered now, I am off-grid in my view of nourishment and I see people's connection to nourishment as just one part of our experience of all things. I say off-grid, but actually what I think is happening is when you pull away from the dream and you plug into what is happening now, in this moment in your body and heart, things change to become more tailored to you and how your journey is unfolding.

So, here is a list of my kitchen essentials. The tools in my toolbox.

1. Pressure Cooker
2. Sharp knives
3. Cast Iron Skillet
4. Micro-Plane Zester
5. Cuisinart (food processor)
6. Blender
7. Olive Oil
8. Sea Salt
9. Hand Grater
10. Love

A pressure cooker is number one. I try to think about how I lived without one, and it boggles my mind. A pressure cooker has made it possible for me to keep the pace of cooking up so that I can remove canned food from my house. It has allowed me to cook things quicker. The thought of having vegetable soup or a pot of beans for dinner without spending 3 hours cooking has radically shifted my cooking perspective. I will go far as to say that I think pressure cookers are the green kitchen tool of the food revolution we are experiencing. A pressure cooker is essential to have if you are eating on a budget. If you are conscious of having to spend "too much time" in the kitchen. If you are trying simplify your life. If you are shifting to eating less meat. If you are increasing your fiber intake. I could go on....
There is a wonderful website: Miss Vickie that is dedicated to pressure cooking. Recipes, cooking times, pressure cooker reviews. I highly recommend browsing the site. Happy Cooking!


Anonymous said...

very eloquently worded jess. i love you :)

windycityvegan said...

Oh Jessica, this post just made my day. I am so glad you acknowledged that *you* are part of the food revolution. So many of us need to own that sentiment!

I agree with everything you said about pressure cooking - it is the number one thing I tell people I rely on to save time! It has also allowed me the freedom to experiment with sprouting legumes and grains; if I fall short on time and all my beans aren't quite sprouted yet, I can quickly pressure cook a different batch and leave my soaking ones alone.

Love. Such an integral part of the current food revolution, I believe. Right now, everything I do in the kitchen really centers around my daughter - teaching her basic techniques, teaching her not to be afraid to experiment, teaching her that whole foods are so good for her in a multitude of ways - so for the past few years, everything done in my kitchen is done with love.

Anonymous said...

i somehow missed this one. fabulous post...guess it's time for a pressure cooker! x

tracingterroir said...

I love using the off-grid term for nutrition. I'm a Holistic Nutrition major and like you, have shifted from bottles and labels and supplements like "natural health stores" will promote.
I much prefer and feel confident in the holistic choices of the origin of your food and how you have a hand in making it.
Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

Ashley said...

wow, i have never even thought of looking into one, much less purchasing. so glad you brought this up!

Becky said...

The one tool missing in my kitchen! I'll have to give this some serious consideration, but first I'll check out that website...

Nancy said...

Well said! I'm getting more and more off the grid myself these days - here's to a food revolution :) And great compendium of essential kitchen tools (#10 especially). I know a pressure cooker would change my life but currently nowhere to put one in my tiny nyc kitchen - someday soon though!


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