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Note: Just a few more days to get my grain-free cookbook, along with four other cookbooks, for 80% off the original prices.

The shift we have made over the past couple of years away from the more citified way of living has been part of a larger decision to live more sustainably. In short, being good stewards meant we had to reevaluate much of the way we did things and start from scratch.

And nowhere have I felt the squeeze of that shift from then to now than when I’m in the kitchen. (Well, there’s the laundry room too, also known as a bucket outside my front door, but that’s another story for another day.)

I’ve always been a reader of cookbooks and food blogs. They give me ideas, inspiration, and information for feeding my family. More recently, though, I’m more likely to want to pick up that book, rip every page from its binding, light the whole pile on fire, let the chickens poop all over it and then use it for compost.

It’s not you, it’s me.

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A Typical Day In My Kitchen

Right now, Stewart is in deep need of nourishment. So we are trying to be careful about what we feed him. We’ve always had that overarching philosophy with us and the children, but right now it seems even more acute. Three meals a day from scratch with a host of foods that I cannot use - like most grains, eggs, and pasteurized or processed anything – are the parameters I can work within.

It’s my job and I enjoy feeding my family, but it’s also challenging and time-consuming.

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In the morning, a high-protein breakfast is made, and washed up after. By the time that gets taken care of I usually start a pot of bean and vegetable soup with a bit of meat in it for lunch. By the time lunch is over it is nap time for Annabelle, my only quiet daylight hours to work, so I quickly get any food put away and abandon the dishes for the laptop. Two hours later, she’s up and kicking, and I’m starting on dinner – usually meat and veggies – followed by dishes, and before you know it the sun is starting to set. Somewhere in there is laundry, some reading and math, gardens and chickens, and the general chaos that is life with Annabelle small children.

A Story of Two Different Worlds

And then I sit down to a food blog or a cookbook full of pretty pictures and inspiring stories of how not to spend your whole day in the kitchen while feeding your family in the most nourishing of ways.

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Yes, I know I could just take some meat from my freezer, cook it up with some vegetables stashed in my giant refrigerator, add bone broth from stock I made two weeks ago on a once-a-month cooking day, and then put them all together in my crock pot and let it simmer all day (while I blow our solar power system to smithereens), top it with the fermented vegetables from the back of my refrigerator, and then take the leftovers and freeze those for an easy weeknight meal.

But the only freezer space I have, I borrow from a nice neighbor. My refrigerator, if it’s working, might be smaller than a cabinet full of cutesie tea cups. That marathon once-a-month cooking session is what every day looks like around here. And, if we’re having bone broth, someone’s axing, gutting, and boiling a rooster and then we’re soaking our blood-stained aprons in a hardware store bucket at the end of the day.

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I’m sorry, but I don’t live in a Williams-Sonoma fantasy world full of pretty pictures and clean counter-tops. My kitchen holds approximately 1.5 people (1, if you’re pregnant), is usually swimming in dirty dishes, has egg shells and real live pieces of dirt on the floor, and my 4 feet of counter-top is full of stinky meat and lard jars that are weeks days overdue for a good scrubbing… if I can just have some water heating when I get there. Oh, and there is always, always, someone who needs to eat right now so why didn’t you start dinner 30 minutes ago before I started my meltdown, mom?

(Because you didn’t actually eat your lunch on account of some unknown particularity which I will starve out of you, buster. And, I love you.)

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Sometimes all of that gets frustrating, if I’m being honest, but mostly that’s just real life on our homestead and I wouldn’t trade it for all the crock pots in the world. Someday we might get that solar cooker up and running, have a more permanent kitchen setup, and I might get better at this off-grid kitchen thing. But I’ve learned to have no expectations of “when it gets easier” because we don’t know when or if that will be.

Oh, and to keep things in perspective, here’s a 1901 journal entry:

“The day & night before school started in 1901, I worked one hundred buttonholes and sewed on one hundred buttons, trying to finish up the children’s school clothes. I was still sewing at dawn. I milked the cows and fixed breakfast. I worked all morning about the house and cooked dinner. Then that afternoon I gave birth to my tenth child.”

Just like that, she gave birth to her tenth child. I may not live in Martha Stewart land, but believe me, I’m no bad mama jama like that lady.

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