Monday, April 23, 2012

Occupy your kitchen.

Well, once again I had a great idea for a slogan and I decided to not do anything about it and someone beat me to the chase.

Right now there are huge May first Occupy rallies planned across the country.  So much of the Occupy movement has directed anger and blame at the banks, particularly the big ones that were bailed out by the government.  But it still seems like only a very small minority of these protests are directed at what I view to be an equally evil villain, the food coroporations, in particular the folks at Monsanto.  I had the phrase "occupy your kitchen" running through my head for some time as a means of expressing this and it looks like someone from the Huffington post had already done an article about it here.

In fact it seems like the most radical thing we can do is cook our own food with locally sourced ingredients. . . but cooking is the problem.  Many people want to buy local but when you start to live this way you realize the world is not made of boneless skinless chicken breasts and Campbell's soup.  There is an art to cooking each part of an animal.  A shank is different from a shoulder.  All this knowledge has become a sort of unattainable alchemy to the modern individual and it does require a totally different approach to food, community, and convenience.  I laugh that one of the cheapest, easiest parts of my food routine that I call my "fast food" is the thing that takes the longest to make.  My bread is 24 hours start to finish, but once made it is truly fast food.  But to cook this way one has to constantly be thinking of the future and planning.

I think we would be amazed at what a school of virtue is found in the kitchen.  Patience, planning, reverence, attention to detail.  All these are waiting for you in a pot of stock.

So what we really need right now are skill sharing seminars,  cooking classes,  maybe even real food tastings on the street to get people's interest.   I hope we see these things blossom out of a movement toward less government subsidized eating.

On a total sidetrack however, my friend Jamie recently made a point about how so many people find the Eucharist to be such a crazy Catholic teaching but that if we can get people to wax poetic, gush and become ecstatic over real bread (not wonderbread)  than maybe, just maybe, it will seem less crazy that yes, I truly worship something that looks, smells, feels, and tastes just like bread.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ben is back from Houston! He was only gone two days but it always feels a little bit like a convent when he is gone, being all women here. We are happy to have him back.

 I got lots of mowing done (all the while thinking about how much better it would be to have a grazing animal because I would honestly rather deal with an animal than a machine any day. Angelica made us crepes for breakfast. I have been experimenting with sourdough and my easter bread recipe. Otherwise we have been very busy getting our house ready for the family who will be staying in it this summer while we are gone.

 That's right. We will be back in Gravagna in Italy for the summer. Mostly this trip will be a chance to be with our families over there. Ben will be inking his third Zita book and I will be doing all the same things I do here but some of them with more relish ( like eating cheese and grocery shopping.) I would like to think that Ben will have time to paint. It is always good to leave your physical goods and conveniences behind. I have a mandatum from Ben that we are only bringing backpacks this time. Every time we go to Gravagna I feel like I come back a little tougher, more like my old world grandmother. I have especially been feeling like I have been getting soft lately.

 Resolutions for the summer include: Read reading list books: Moby Dick, Kristin Lavransdatter(reread) and To Kill a Mockingbird. Watching someone make cheese in the village. Long walks with my girls and my husband. I also would like to use the blog to meditate on little places in the village and life over there. We'll see what kind of internet situation we have. . . . I could add more but

I'll try to keep it simple. Okay time to greet the morning's work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finally easter pics. (warning cranky post to follow)

Well, it is election time again and I pretty much washed my hands of politics years ago. I never put much faith in politicians and feel like if they were going to make things better we would have seen changes fifty years ago. It is easy to blame peoples' problems on themselves when things are going great for most people and "the system" is working. But its not working anymore. In fact lately it is hard to feel like my families are not being persecuted by the system.

My brother and his wife moved in with my parents to save money for the second car that they need to live somewhere affordable in CA only to have their current car die on them. A week previous my poor sister-in-law lost out on a little piece of property, a small modest old farmhouse on a couple acres because a scummy bank accepted a cash offer at the last minute.

Now let me be clear. My family members are hard working individuals. I know for a fact that my sister-in-law's husband worked nights for a long time in addition to his regular job to pay the extra interest on their mortgage when their rate went up. My brother (who incidentally also has lost a plethora of houses to the infamous "cash offer" wealthy real estate investor) worked extra hours waitering and lived at home on a shoestring to pay off his college debts and masters degree. These are honest people in the prime of their life, starting families. These people are playing by the rules. And you can't say it's geography because they live four thousand miles apart from eachother. Both my brother's wife and my sister-in-law are frugal ladies who cook home meals and buy second hand. In the old model if you did these things, maybe you didn't get filthy rich, but you had security, comfort and knew that you didn't have to worry about the future.

It has been apparent to me for quite some time that this system of ours is quite broken. It hurts our families and it hurts us.

Oh for two acres and a mule.

Sorry for a whiny post. Elections make me cranky.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Hooray! He is Risen and Lent is over!

We have been enjoying meat and wine every day of the octave this year and I feel like my head is swimming. I am working my way thru a cookbook based on one of my old fave's, Hildegard of Bingen. She is a big fan of spelt and fennel both of which I am experimenting with. I am convinced that everything she says about cooking and the four humors is true.

Ben and the older girls attended the vigil this year and after the two little girls were in bed I stayed up and cleaned the house from top to bottom. After the floors were scrubbed I brought in fresh lilacs and wildflowers and put out a fresh tablecloth and laid out our blessed Easter bread which we had brought to the church earlier that day. I lit candles and when they returned home close to midnight it was all transformed. I took the two little girls in the morning to the much speedier Easter morning mass but I was so glad the older ones got to experience the Vigil.

We drove into D.C: to visit Ronia's godmother Maggie and had a lovely dinner of pork shoulder and lasagne. The light in Maggie's apartment is so beautiful at dusk. I wish I had brought my camera.