Why I cook for my husband. Liturgy of Life. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Why I cook for my husband

I’m a modern woman and I have the credentials to prove it.  When I crossed the stage in my cap and gown they tacked MD to the end of my name I gained quick entrance into the professional world. My parents’ dreams were fulfilled, I stood tall on the weary shoulders of the women who went before me, paving the way into workplaces that only a generation ago were inaccessible to those of us with a double X chromosome.  I am not be intimidated by men in suits, and in fact when I’m holding a syringe over them those men are often intimidated by me.  I would not need a man to support me, my earning potential far exceeds that of my clergy husband unless he decides to pursue a career in televangelism. For a spell I was even the breadwinner of our family and my husband stayed home with our daughter. Our decision was met with applause all around. We were just that progressive.

The raised eyebrows didn’t come until we decided to change roles. I, aching for time with my little girl, and he itching to re-enter life outside our home. After many concerned phone calls the message was clear, my progress as a contemporary woman had actually limited my options in the eyes of many. Returning to the ancient vocation of  homemaker could only be seen as a step back into the dark ages.

It turns out that the change was good for us, all of us. He was able to more fully live into his skills and abilities, my daughter and I loved being together and I was able to pursue interests that I had never had time for before (hence this blog).  Joining the rank of housewife I could now dedicate myself primarily to caring for the people dearest to me, which for the most part, meant cooking for my family.

Why I cook for my husband. Liturgy of Life. Thoughts on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I spend several hours in the kitchen everyday though I don’t exactly love to cook.   What I do love is sitting down to a nourishing table, knowing where my food came from and what is in it, having some idea of how it is acting in my body and most of all, eating something that tastes really good.

Cooking is a never-ending quest to me. I relish in learning how to take basic ingredients and turn them into all sorts of variety. Milk becomes butter, cheese, yogurt or ice cream. Tomatoes become marinara, salsa, juice or salad.  It turns out that all of the mystery foods that I imagined could only be created in factories, i.e., cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, fruit snacks, are relatively easy to make, tastier, less expensive and probably healthier when I make them at home and it’s a constant puzzle to get each one figured out.

Sometimes when I throw together a quick dinner with leftover sourdough pizza topped with olives, sauteed onions and mushrooms next to a pile of salad greens along with marinated beets, fermented sauerkraut, homemade feta and a handful of strawberries, topped in balsamic and oil with a squeeze of lemon that came from  my neighbor’s tree I feel like I might loose my mind in deliciousness and every hour of work that went into having that meal in the fridge feels so worth it.

This year have I committed myself to preparing lunch and breakfast.  In the past I  felt like those meals were meant to be eaten on the go, no reason to dirty a plate, let alone a pan.  But the reality is three times a day we are hungry and we are going to eat.  If I don’t cook for my family, someone else will and that someone doesn’t care near as much about them as I do.  They won’t make sure that they get a serving of greens with each meal, they won’t add turmeric and ginger and garlic and oregano, all of which add flavor and medicinal value, they will be glad to feed my family with the lowest quality, lowest price ingredients tolerable and pocket our money without a second thought.  So nowadays I cook and I love on the people I cook for in a way that no one else can.

This isn’t meant as a criticism of you if cooking isn’t your thing or if life just really does not allow you to cook as much as you would like, none of us have mastered this, we are all a work in progress. This also isn’t meant to insult those families where men have chosen to stay at home or are the primary chef in the family, you guys are awesome and I love the example you are setting.  What this is meant to be is an affirmation of all those millions of women who spend their days in front of fires and stoves stirring pots and flattening tortillas. It is a plea to recognize that an empowered woman does not have to wear high-heels or a pant suit, we can don our dusty aprons and still demand to be taken seriously.

I cook for my husband because I am a modern woman and I love to feed my family.

 

This post was inspired by my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.by Barbara Kingsolver as part of the Liturgy of Life Reading Group series. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

I never thought I would feel this way about kale A quick and easy kale chip recipe inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I was starting to think that the purchase of my food dehydrator was a mistake. One can only eat so many raisins and banana chips.

That was until kale chips entered my life.  Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for inspiring me to eat my greens (we are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in our reading group right now and we would love for you to join us).

 

And it’s no secret this book has sent me into a bit of a health food kick  ( I tend to go to extremes so watch out for the chocolate binge that will come in a few months).

I’ve been devouring books and lectures on nutrition and natural medicine.  And while opinions vary on a lot of subjects the place that everyone can agree is that we need to eat more greens.

 

Not only do American’s have a diet astounding low in vegetables we also grow in nutrient depleted soil so that even when we eat our veggies we aren’t getting the nutrition that our grandparents would have eating the same plate 50 years ago.

 

It turns out that there is a simple remedy to a variety of health problems,  cut out the junk food and eat more green. And of the greens Kale stands out for having a rich range of vitamins and anti-oxidants and being relatively easy to grow making it reasonably affordable.  This recipe is a simple way to cut out snack foods (often an area where we tend to pile in extra sugar) and replace with one of the healthiest foods available at our local grocery store or farmers market.

 

These chips are easy to make and we enjoy them as much as popcorn or potato chips (okay so my husband may not totally agree with that statement but he does like the Kale Chips and my daughter and I can’t even wait to get them off the dehydrator before we start munching).

A quick not about baking these in the oven. You totally can do it, just set your oven down as low as it will go and check them regularly. This will work though I find that they don’t cook as evenly, some parts were burnt others too soggy and you miss out on the real crisp and crunch that makes this an irresistible snack.

I have this food dehydrator, it has served me well and is less expensive than buying a pound of of organic kale chips on amazon, if you had any intention of making kale chips a part of your regular life (I know I’m sure this is something you have been dreaming about for months) than it will definitely save you money.

 

Quick and Easy Dehydrator Kale Chips

You will need:

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Food Dehydrator (or oven, baking sheets, parchment paper)

Kale (I buy the organic bags already washed and chopped, this is part of what makes this such a simple go to recipe for me)

Olive oil

Salt

Directions:

Wash and dry kale if needed. If not already chopped remove the stems at this point, chop if desired.

Toss with oil. Just enough to very lightly coat the leaves.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Sprinkle with salt. Start with a  pinch or two, toss and taste. Remember it will taste saltier as it dehydrates.

I spend a few minutes tossing the kale, working the oil and salt into the leaves.  At this point I pick through my pre-chopped kale and remove big stems.

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

Spread kale into food dehydrator or baking sheet.  Follow your dehydrator’s instructions or bake at your oven’s lowest setting. My dehydrator puts veggies at 135 degrees. These take between 2-4 hours. I’ve never had them burn even when I’ve left them on a little longer. Cooking time will depend on your temperature and humidity.

 

Remove once they are crispy. Store in air tight container (though we usually eat most of ours before we can put them away.)

Dehydrator Kale Chips, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Liturgy of Life Readiang Group

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Barbara Kingsolver Meets St. Benedict Creating a Rule of Life for Yourself and Your Family

I wipe the grease from my hands, pop the last of my daughter’s Chick-fil-a nuggets into my mouth and open up to my recent read, Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. This book is a memoir of Kingsolver’s family as they set out to eat only foods produced in their own county of Southern Appalachia for a full year. I confess the first time I heard the concept it sounded both boring and baffling. Why would would someone go to the trouble let alone write a book about it?

Kingsolver responds with a decent answer,

“We were going to spend a year integrating our food choices with our family values. . .”

She goes on to explain these values as, “love they neighbor,” and “not wreck every blooming thing on the planet,” along with the deeper desire to foster patience and restraint in herself and her family.

It was beginning to sound interesting. Not only that it sounded familiar.

A year or so ago when I first began this reading group we tackled, The Rule of St. Benedict, written 1500 years ago by, you guessed it, St. Benedict.  I don’t know if Kingsolver would put it this way, but like Benedict she had also set out to create a Rule of Life.

Barbara Kingsolver Meets St. Benedict. Creating a Rule of Life

If you aren’t familiar with it, a Rule of Life may sound domineering, but “rule” here as more to do with one of those wooden sticks that teachers use to swat the hands of unruly children than it does with laws or dictators.  Creating a Rule is about setting a standard by which you can measure progress.

We all do this naturally to some degree. Somewhere in us we have a set of values and everyday we make decisions that are either true to those values or not.  Some of our deepest frustrations, whether we realize it or not, come when our actions are inconsistent with what we believe.  When we can’t mange to act according to our rules the tyranny of life gets the best of us and we find ourselves reacting rather than living intentionally.

While Benedict’s Rule didn’t talk about local food he does include guidelines on meals and fasting and even specifics on how much wine a monk should drink.  After all, Our relationship with food is deeply embedded in our Christian history. Sin entered the world when Eve ate the forbidden apple. At Passover the Jews slaughtered and ate a lamb. Animal and grain sacrifices were integral in the worship of God. Jesus spent His final hours with his disciples eating a meal and we continue to receive Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Food is our most basic means of interacting with God’s Creation.

Benedict doesn’t talk about local food because he doesn’t have to.  In his day nearly all foods were already local. Only recently has technology developed that has made it cost effective for us to eat apples from Argentina and lambs from New Zealand.  But this access to exotic food comes at a cost.  When we eat foods without knowing their history we make room for abuse of farm workers and child labor.  Our disconnect allows for the heavy use of hazardous chemicals in food production.   When we allow processed foods to become part of our routine (ahem Chick-fil-a play-date every Friday) we consume empty calories which, in part, has lead to epic rates of obesity, heart disease, and cancer in our nation.  The easiest way to combat all of this is to know the history of our food, to buy local and cook for ourselves.

All of a sudden Kingsolver’s book doesn’t seem so odd. We find her and St. Benedict telling us the same story. That values without action are meaningless and that most of us need a plan to get us to where we want to go. 

Establishing a Rule of Life is something that anyone can do.  It simply requires sitting down and reflecting on our values  and then setting standards to keep our lives consistent with them.  (If this sounds like something you want to do check out this simple resource guide. P.S. this is a ministry  created by my husband, and is a resource we use everyday in our family we hope it will be helpful in yours).  And maybe the hardest part in all of this is that it might just lead us to eat a little less Chick-fil-a.
This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

 

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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Choosing the Path of Life: Thoughts on St Benedict

 

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Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

Some Questions to Get Us Started Thoughts on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

For those of you who know my earthy ways Animal, Vegetable, Miracle may not seem like an odd choice for this reading group. But for those of us who are just getting acquainted this may seem like an odd choice. Maybe you found this group when you were searching for some spiritual direction, specifically Christian direction and saw that we read books like  The Rule of St. Benedict or The Problem of Pain.

Kingsolver is not unspiritual but she clearly does not write from a Christian perspective.  Still her book offers us a great insight into the Christian world and perhaps in a direction that has been overlooked by mainstream American Christianity.  To begin I’m posting some questions that I’ve been asking myself, simply some ideas to chew on as we read. I’ll try to address some of these subjects over the next few months and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Discussion Questions for the Christian reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

 

Is there any spiritual significance in cultivating land? Does it change my relationship with God when I recognize that the same dirt I use to grow plants was used for the creation of man and remains the substance out of which all creatures are made and sustained? Can working this land help me know God better?

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Does what I do with my body have an impact on my soul? Does doing meaningful work affect the way I interact with the world? Is there value in producing something through my own physical labor? Does the process of building, growing or creating with my hands help me to understand God as my Creator?

 

Does experiencing the Creation teach us something about our Creator? How does spending time in nature feel different than being inside in man made structures? Does where we are change how we experience God?

 

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Does meeting our own needs by cultivating God’s Creation teach us anything about meeting the needs of others? Does realizing that all that sustains us comes from God’s Creation help us to develop as sense of gratefulness in our own lives?

 

What is man’s relationship with animals? Is there any spiritual significance in the way we care for animals whether they be pets or for food? What about in the way we slaughter animals? Does the way we care for animals that we use for food have an impact on our physical health? What about on our spirits?

 

Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Liturgy of Life Reading Group Discussion Questions

 

Is there any spiritual significance in gathering at a common table for a meal? How does eating together verses eating alone affect our relationships with one another? What about with our relationship with God? Does anything change when we work together to grow or prepare food together? Does feeding someone else or depending on someone else to feed us teach us anything about the way that we are fed by Christ?

 

Does what I put into my body affect me physically, emotionally or spiritually? Does being well fed affect my sense of gratitude or my energy? Is there a relationship between caring for my physical health and improving my spiritual health?

 

Just some thoughts to get us started. I’d love to hear what questions you have now or as we go through this book. Thanks for reading with us!

.    .    .

This post is part of our Reading Group series. Right now are reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. We would love for you to join us.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

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