Dr. Phil says "Food isn't love", but he's wrong. It can be. Cooking for those you love is a loving gift. I think back to Grandma and taste her applesauce even though I haven't had it for many years. The apples came from Grandpa's apple tree in the back yard, a tree that bloomed in many colors every spring, and drooped with many colored apples every fall. He took cuttings from heirloom trees when he took trips and grafted them on his tree when he got home. We had applesauce so often when I was a kid I got sick of it. What I wouldn't give to have a jar of Grandma's applesauce again!
$83 of groceries didn't look like very much food when I brought it home from my last shopping trip. This made me think about those who spend a lot of their lives working for groceries and how many people count their pennies so they can buy holiday gifts. Like my grandparents' applesauce, cooking doesn't have to be expensive.
I bought a ham. Ham is affordable and useful. I'll make sandwiches and freeze extra slices for future sandwiches. I'll cube the less pretty parts and use that meat and the ham bone for soup. Into the freezer it all goes. I'll melt the fat for lard which I'll later use as a flavor and grease in cooking other things and top my bowl of soup with cracklings. Many future meals for $18. Thank you pig.
Sometimes I'm aware I eat better and don't spend as much money as other people. A young woman told me recently she'd like to be a vegetarian, but isn't, because she thinks vegetables are too expensive. I gave her a confused look. Buying ham is more expensive than carrots. I seldom make lentil or pea soup, but I'll toss dried peas and lentils into other soups. Lentils and peas are about $1 per bag. Easy, cheap, good for us. I pick herbs in the garden. These are perennials, so free. Grow them in pots if you don't have a yard.
Yeah, but cooking takes too much time! Well, sorta, but I like chopping vegetables for soup. It's my meditation. You could use a food processor if it makes you happy. I make big batches so I can freeze it in single serving bags for later because I don't feel like cooking every day. I freeze them flat so they thaw out fast, then microwave them in a glass bowl for an easy, healthy supper.
I drink a lot of Red Rose tea, but they stopped putting little porcelain figurines in the box. This made me ornery and gave me insight into early Americans dumping tea in the harbor when they were mad at King George. I started looking around my yard for tea substitutes. Well, I didn't give up all my tea, I was looking for things to lessen my tea dependence. I picked clover blossoms and raspberry leaves. I grew chamomile, mint, lemon balm, hibiscus, and lemon verbena. My tea has gotten tastier and healthier, and I saved money. I miss getting porcelain turtles though. I'm hoping my protest will result in the reappearance of little figurines some day.
When I started volunteering at the food giveaway I hadn't thought about getting food from the gig. It's just something I like to do. This week, an old lady encouraged me to try persimmons. I love them! (The old lady warned me they have to be very ripe or they'll pucker your mouth though). I often take home defective, rejected produce and can it. Canning takes time too, but I like canning. It's like a science project in the kitchen and I get yummy fruit for dessert. I gift jars of it to nice people too.
You don't have to cook all the time, but give it a shot. Give the gift of home cooking to someone you love :)