The state of things

In early January, when school was still out for the holidays, we had a playdate scheduled at my friend Liz’s house. The plan was a pitch-in lunch, so I threw bread, cheese, and fruit into a bag. I was about to start my diet, and had thawed a frozen jar of GAPS-friendly creamy cauliflower soup to take for myself.

We got the kids settled, had a cup of tea, and I put my quart of soup in a pot to simmer on her stove. We chatted away, and fifteen minutes later I looked over to see that it had curdled into a disgusting mess. I had no idea what had happened, but supposed it had something to do with the soup being frozen? It looked completely inedible, so I sadly dumped the whole thing down the sink.

Later at home, as I unpacked from our excursion, I opened the fridge to see a quart of creamy cauliflower soup, staring me mockingly in the face. In an instant, I realized that I had simmered a fresh quart of homemade yogurt for our lunch. I texted Liz, and her reply was laughingly there’s something to say for labeled, store-bought food. I couldn’t argue her point.

This morning, after snapping these photos of the contents of my chaotic fridge, I sat down with a sigh. It’s a lot of energy to keep up with everything in there — not just from a production standpoint, but organizationally. Tim has been a champ through this all — once quietly requesting that I at least label the jars that contain yogurt (rather than coconut milk or cauliflower soup, they all look the same) so he would know what to eat for breakfast w/o having to smell the contents.

I just did the math, and figure I spend at a minimum 5 hours every day in my kitchen. I’m an introvert, so for me this isn’t terribly difficult — minus the dishes, I usually like the work. But it does, truly, get old. Especially when I have many other things I need or want to do instead (like this week, I’m trying to upcycle a thrifted cocktail dress, to turn it into the prom dress I wish I’d worn back in 1988 — FYI, for a prom-themed party, not simply to rectify any personal prom regrets).

Anyway, there’s been a hoopla recently. Articles in the press that question whether or not women who make the choice to spend their time on domestic activities such as canning, homesteading, urban gardening, and chicken-raising are causing a giant step backward in the efforts of feminism. Others that ask whether or not new domestics are portraying a fantasy world that is completely out-of-touch with the past, romanticizing a life of pioneering that was nothing but hard (no over-exposed photos of home-cooked goods served on vintage dishes in the history books).

I don’t want to argue a person’s right or interest in asking these questions — I am nothing if not critical of movements and ideas, and relish environments where those discussions can intelligently occur. I also readily admit, with sadness, that many on my side of the domestic debate attach a veil of dogma that does nothing but polarize (of course the same exists on the other side).

When I looked into my refrigerator, and was inspired to take a picture, it wasn’t out of a This-Is-What-Everyone-Should-Be-Doing mentality — it was truly more of a THIS-IS-CRAZY mentality. I can’t rearrange those jars in my fridge for the umpteenth time and not chuckle at myself. I’m embarrassed for people to look in my icebox. I’m not ashamed of how we eat, but I dread the explanation. It is, in a word, extreme — and I know it.

This is a ton of work. It gets to me. My husband worries. I can’t get it all done. But so far I wake up and choose to do it, every day. I see the benefits already (and trust me — I would have quit long ago if I hadn’t). In my own kitchen, this is not about feminism, not about living in a delusional history lesson (except when I imagine I’m the fourth sister on Little House — but that’s pure survival fantasy), not about a moral imperative. It’s quite simply about doing what I think is good for me, and for my kids — our present and future health. It is my last-ditch effort.

But no one else has to do it. That’s one reason that — even though my new diet could have me eating grain-free for the next year — I don’t want to turn this into a grain-free blog. Or a GAPS diet blog. Or an anything blog, other than cooking, and cooking from scratch, locally when possible (but you knew that, and kept reading, right?).

So no thrifted dishes today (ahem, but perhaps later this week) — just the unlabeled, messy, fermented, brothy, soupy canning jars of my refrigerator (if I could look into my brain these days, it might look about the same). No cause, no soapbox.

Just the way life is.


This post was my first link up to Just Write.


9 thoughts on “The state of things

  1. Ah, I just love this post! We are working our way to doing GAPS as a family and have already made huge strides to change our diets from what we grew up eating. But it is so hard sometimes! And it’s even harder to feel like other people can do it easily and with a sense of “this is what MUST be done; everyone MUST do this too!” Thank you for being honest and saying this is just how things are; for someone like me, it is so encouraging and such a “I’m not alone” kind of moment.

  2. I admire you for all your hard work and for being able to laugh at the hiccups (and curdled soup later yogurt) along the way. I think it’s important to a lot of people to see that big life changes like this are not easy, but that they are worth it in the end.

  3. I, too, loved this post, Katy. I often think, “gosh, if I could just get my life together, I could really do GAPS [or insert whatever here].” I’m enjoying learning from you and others who are doing it, so when I do decide to do it someday, I’ll be ready. In the meantime, I’m giving myself permission to experiment with grain-free eating, but not beat myself up when I do consume grains.

  4. Katy, if there’s one thing i have learned in my time spent on this earth it is that we’re all wired differently . . . and that is not only ok . . . it is the perfect design of this world . . . i have seen up close and personal the free-love of the 60s, the bra-burning of the 70s and the ‘mama-can-bring-home-the-bacon-and-fry-it-up-in-a-pan’ of the 80s . . . in other words, women can have it all . . . and you know what? we can’t. we absolutely cannot have it all and anyone who tells you that it is indeed possible, is indeed a liar.

    what really rials me these days, are women who want us to believe that we aren’t women, we aren’t feminists, we are turning back the clock if our values don’t line up like . . . fill-in-the-blank . . . and now we’re left with feeling like a complete failure . . . it’s a bunch of crock, a bunch of hooey and i for one, am thrilled to see women come into their own power, women who can stand and say, ‘i like this, i like doing this, i like living this way’ regardless of what others think.

    i come here to read your words because i know you are smart, intelligent, funny, creative and maybe sometimes a bit to the right or left of center . . . but damnit, that is exactly why i come here and read your words!!! you make me think, you give me another perspective, you make me ask questions . . . so I CAN DECIDE if it’s something I CHOOSE to embrace . . . i believe it’s called critical thinking . . . something of which we have far too little of these days . . .

    bottom line for moi is that i have now learned we are ALL DIFFERENT . . . and it’s high time we celebrated those differences rather than tearing each other down in order that we all fit into the same, boring box of neutral crayons . . .

    ok . . . rant over . . . carry on . . .

  5. The feminist arguments make me laugh actually. Should any woman feel threatened by one who makes a daily decision to do what brings her joy? If its done out of duty or outside pressure, fine, criticize. But I sure have loved this journey of learning what my mama never knew….creating something wholesome with your bare hands, something that nourishes others, is just plain fun.

  6. You mix up reminds me of the time my father-in-law woke up before us and made the coffee. He mistook the glass jar of plain yogurt for half-and-half and dumped it in his coffee. He was very polite about it, but I could tell his underlying thought was, “you and your freaky food …”

    Like the others, I have so much admiration for you: for your willpower, for your desire to feed your family well, for all the hard work you put into this. I love the way you handle it. You possess just the right amount of self-deprecation to keep things light without bashing yourself, but at the same time you possess just the right amount of conviction to do what you need to do without making anyone else feel as if it’s the only way. You have a gift, Katy. In your way you’re able to educate those of us who still cling to our Diet Cokes without being preachy and encourage those who are ready to make the leap. I hope you’ll continue to just write – it’s truly one of the highlights of my day.

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