Monday, December 27, 2010

Introduction Time

I’m a 32 year old single mama to a talkative and dramatic 3 year old girl. We live in a tiny house in south Seattle with a fluffy orange cat who mostly sleeps the day away (lucky him!).

I am lucky enough to do contract work from home. I spend my days trying to keep up my little busy bee, while attempting to get the floor swept and laundry done. Then as soon as I put my daughter in bed, I sit down for 4-5 hours of paycheck work. My daughter was, until recently, a very early riser and so I have survived on around 5 hours of sleep per night for almost 3 years. I'd prefer something closer to 9 hours per night! Add in the stress of just squeaking by financially and it's exhausting.

To save time during the day, I fell into a pattern of quick and easy food choices- frozen waffles and sausages for breakfast, deli meat with crackers for lunch, every possible variety of pasta for dinner. Virtually everything was prepackaged, boxed, canned or frozen. It wasn’t healthy and, in all honesty, it wasn’t terrifically tasty either. I was too exhausted to make more effort, plus a 2 year old clinging to your leg makes it difficult and a little dangerous to be wielding a knife or standing at the hot stove!

Not surprisingly, the combination of constant stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition took a toll on me. I feel as though I’ve just been scraping by in so many aspects of my life. I wasn't actively living my life, I was simply getting by and it's not very satisfying. I needed a change.

Slowly this year, I’ve worked on digging out of the hole I’d gotten myself into. The easiest place to start was with the food we eat. Now that Isadora is old enough to play by herself for short periods of time, I can spend more time preparing meals. Initially it was as simple as adding frozen vegetables to pasta and eventually I moved on to casseroles and other one-pot meals.

With the help of a wonderful nutritionist, I created monthly dinner plans and worked in a greater variety of proteins, fruits, and vegetables. I tried new recipes. To further encourage myself, a few months ago I signed up for a bi-monthly CSA box with Full Circle Farms. Now, every 2 weeks a box full of delicious, organic fruits and vegetables comes right to my doorstep. It’s like a little tiny Christmas every other Wednesday.

It dawned on me recently that I now enjoy the process of cooking, which I used to dread. I also realized that meals made with fresh ingredients are infinitely more satisfying than processed foods. Okay, so everyone else probably knew that already, but it was quite a revelation to me when I started craving home cooked pot roast rather than fast food!

Everything was humming along nicely until a few weeks ago when I planned to make burritos for dinner but didn’t have time to stop at the store for tortillas. I started to cross the meal off the menu calendar when suddenly I had a crazy idea. Why not just make the tortillas myself? I knew that technically it was possible but had no idea if it was realistic. I looked up a simple recipe online and decided that it was worth a try. While the initial results weren’t fabulous, those wonky little tortillas still tasted better than what I usually buy.

What happened next was pure insanity. I was already doing a fair job of making a lot of our food from scratch. But what if I took it to the next level? What if, instead of relying on the grocery store, I tried making from scratch nearly everything we eat? No more store-bought tortillas? No more canned spaghetti sauce? No more Bisquick for pancakes? No more jars of apple sauce? No more pretzels, Goldfish or graham crackers for snacks? It’s crazy! I couldn’t possibly do it!

But… what if I could?

And in a move completely counter to my usual risk-averse self, I decided to take the plunge and am officially declaring 2011 to be my “homemade” year. The Golden Rule for the year: If I can, with reasonable effort, make something then I’m not allowed to buy it. I either make it or we go without.

I set up this blog to remain accountable; to post about the highs and certain-to-be lows as I follow the experiment though the course of the year. I expect it will be difficult at times but I hope it will also force me to take a more active role in my life. I also hope it will inspire others to push themselves further than they think they can go. If I can do, then surely you can, too!

Start thinking about it yourself: what food(s) do you currently buy premade that you could make from scratch?


  1. I can't wait to hear about everything that you do. I have slowly been moving this direction as well, although after two attempts at making crackers I've gone back to Ritz. :) I'll be cheering you on and looking to you for inspiration this year!

  2. Ooh...I'm still at the prepackaged everything and dislike cooking but really want to start cooking good stuff more for taste/money/health. (Last night at J's, we ordered out chinese. $20 for food that was so greasy I didn't even want the leftovers and I didn't even eat 1/4 of my dinner.) I can't wait to follow along and learn from you!!!

  3. I still buy pop tarts, but have had this bookmarked forever Now that I make my own jam and nutella, I definitely have to give it a try.

  4. Lovely, lovely! Can't wait to hear about (and eat!) all your kitchen adventures!

  5. I love this! I haven't been eating as healthy as I'd like this year either - not enough time (or so it seems), and I've got a picky eater. I've been thinking about trying to change that in 2011 too, thinking about joining a CSA to force me to cook more vegetables...I can't wait to follow along on your adventure!

  6. sounds awesome! we are slowly reworking our own diet as well. on the tortilla front, i tried my own, but it was too much work with having to make/chop/prepare all the other ingredients for tacos. here's my compromise: i found fresh, ready to cook tortillas at fred meyer in the refrigerator section. they are delicious, but are a little spendy. worth it, to me. have you read Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan? Both are awesome. Good luck with your homemade year!

  7. Fantastic! Can't wait to hear about your adventures and journey! It is pretty gratifying to make your own food. We have gradually purged most of premade/packaged food. Crackers and pasta I have made, but don't routinely. However, I got a pasta maker for christmas so I'm in business there! I haven't tried making tortillas yet though!