I’m a reader. Books have been both life changing and life saving for me.
Reading is the only way I’ve managed to stay sane during these early years of mommy-hood. Being able to lay down in bed and escape into the written word while my little ones literally crawl over top of me is the only way I make it through some days.
Back in my pre-mommy days I discovered a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemia. I had previously taken Museum Studies and I found the history of food a particularly captivating subject.
I wasn’t prepared to have the author, Michael Pollan, spin my perspective towards the future of food. This book, and the others it pointed me towards, propelled me into the culinary world.
I couldn’t knowingly be part of the modern food system they were describing and opted for the only solution I could find; becoming a vegan.
Which highlighted my drastic lack of skills in the kitchen.
I knew I didn’t want to be eating endless processed foods, even if they were free of animal products. So I enrolled in culinary school, determined to get something out of it even if I would be horribly out of my element.
In culinary school I was introduced to the local food movement here in Kingston. I began to learn about things like organic, pasture raised, and free range.
Six years later and I’m still finding my way. I am lucky enough to live in a city where I can place an order on-line for local organic meat, I have fresh dairy delivered right to my porch, and there are two farmer’s markets within walking distance.
I am also the main cook for a family with a limited budget. Amazing chefs in our city are doing amazing things with local food, but it is not a feasible way for someone in my position to engage with this type of food system.
With two small children I am as limited for time (and energy) as anything else.
I’ve found the only way to keep on top of the challenges to is to keep expanding my abilities.
I have two years in culinary school and twice as many years working in restaurants. It still doesn’t make up for a childhood of eating from boxes. I have many new tricks to learn, new weapons to add to my arsenal.
Recently I read Cooked by Michael Pollan while my daughters jumped and laughed on the bed beside me. He focuses on four main types of cooking; bbq, braising, baking and fermenting.
His book reinvigorated me to try out some things I wasn’t comfortable with.
I attempted to slow BBQ some chicken- it was a bust. I need to invest in some better equipment.
I took on braising a shoulder of lamb yesterday and it was everything I hoped it would be. An inexpensive piece of meat transformed into a succulent dish bursting with flavour.
His instructions for braising are easily adaptable to any type of meat. I opted to throw in some Moroccan type spices (cumin, coriander, thyme, ginger, cinnamon) and towards the last hour added some whole baby carrots.
With a side of asparagus inspired by Joel at Well Preserved and some acini de peppi pasta to soak in the juices it was a great meal for a rainy day.
Next I’m hoping to have a go at starting my own sour dough culture using some stone-ground red fife wheat I just got in with my dairy order from Limestone Organic Creamery. Once again I’m indebted to a book for pushing me a little further along my journey.