When I first embarked on this journey, my husband said, there is no way you will be able to make everything from scratch. He said we have to be realistic and do what we can but we can’t go over board. I remember saying to myself, we will see about that. But he was right. Where would I find the time? I work full time and at the time my daughter was 4. I thought, the weekends would be a great time for that, but again, I have a 4 year old and I can’t keep her in the house on the weekends so I can prepare everything. I said to myself, start with one thing and make a lot of it and freeze it so that you only make that one thing once a quarter. So what is that thing? I decided to look at the things that I use to prepare food like stock, tomatoes sauce and butter. I searched butter and found out that it is nothing but over whipped cream and as a bonus I will also get buttermilk when I am done! That was it! Butter! We use butter for many things and the fact that at the end of this simple process I will end up with two products, it was a no brainer! At the time, I was getting lightly pasteurized cream from Mom’s organic market that comes from a local dairy. It was pricey, but again, I was getting two products out of this with all the nutrition.
I got a gallon of cream and I made my first 2 pounds of butter and two quarts of buttermilk. It was lovely, and easy! I mean how easy is it to put cream in my mixer and run it for fifteen or twenty minutes. Let us just say, I have not bought butter in 4 years and loving it. During my initial research with butter, I discovered that I can make cultured butter and come up with yet another product out of my cream. Cultured cream is crème fraiche. So I can take a third of the cultured cream and keep it in the freezer as crème fraiche and make the rest butter which will also yield cultured buttermilk. How ingenious. So the pricey cream was no longer an issue since I produce three products. I did this once every month and a half and I made sure that I did it on a regular week day as I am preparing dinner. We were in heaven. It got even better when I found a farm that will sell me fresh raw milk and cream. I felt like we were tasting dairy products such as yogurt, butter, cheese, etc. for the first time. I honestly don’t know what they are selling in the stores, but this is what dairy should taste like.
I also realized that now that I am making my own butter, I was not overwhelmed and it didn’t feel like I was adding to my chores. As I said, I made butter in conjunction with other things I was making. So what’s next? Again, I want something easy and I can freeze so that I would only make it once a quarter or at least once a month. I used to buy broth in a box and tomatoes sauce in a can. Why can’t I make those? I thought I get my chickens fresh from the farm up the road, which means I also get the necks and gizzards. So why not butterfly the chickens and keep the backs for stock. One tip, don’t store your broth in glass jars, make sure that they are plastic jars. I buy these quart screw top jars that are fantastic for freezing. Again I made the broth in conjunction with another chore I was doing. Since I prepare our meals weekly so that all I have to do is reheat throughout the week, I thought this would be a prefect time to make broth. A couple of backs and a few necks, some aromatics and some spices and a large stock pot produced about two gallons of stock, which would last me about 4 months. And since they are portioned in quarts, it was very easy to go in to the freezer and take one out and pop it in the microwave for about 5 or 10 minutes. Love it! And I have never bought a box of broth ever since.
So my next thing I use a lot to prepare food is tomatoes sauce. This one was a bit tricky since tomatoes have peels and I am not going to sit there and peel and do all that. When I first started I just took tomatoes and put them in the blender and made tomato puree and froze it. That was good, but it didn’t have that rich flavor. I was watching a cooking show one day where the cook was roasting tomatoes in the oven and one of the tips she had was you can take these roasted tomatoes and blend them in a blender and make tomatoes sauce. I thought I heard the angels sing! So that’s what I did. I went and bought 30 Roma tomatoes. I removed the little stem area and stuck them in a 350 degree oven whole on a cookie sheet for an hour. I also thought since I am going to roast the tomatoes, why not roast a couple large onions and a head of garlic as well. Again, I did this in conjunction with another chore. The peel has a lot of nutrition, so I was not going to peel anything. Ok, that’s my excuse for not peeling and I am sticking to it. So why did I choose Roma tomatoes? Well, they are meatier and don’t have much liquid, so you will achieve a much thicker and richer sauce. I combined the tomatoes, garlic and onions and added some fresh basil and I blended it into a beautiful rich deep flavored sauce. I was hooked. 30 tomatoes made about a 3.5 to about 4 quarts of sauce and that lasted me about a couple of months. No more canned stuff for me!
So I was making butter, tomatoes sauce and broth 4-6 times a year and not really feeling the burden of making them. I can do this! Why is it that everywhere I turn I am told, I am too busy to do this? Mind you, there are certain things that I have tried and loved, but they were labor intensive and I truly did not have the time to do on a regular basis, so I stayed with the store bought version, but I am ok with that because when it is all said an done, I am still living mostly unprocessed and I still have time. You just need to organize and work it in slowly. It is not that hard to live unprocessed.
So why now? some have asked. Did I just wake up one day and said I have had enough! No, I think it was a gradual thing for our family that ended with this incredible urgency of having to get our life on track right now.
When my husband and I met and got married, we settled into the comfort of a stable relationship and ate with abandon. Needless to say, with that comfort we packed on the pounds. I worked full time, so takeout was what we ate most often and if it wasn’t takeout, then it was the ready made lasagnas, chicken Alfredo, etc. As we gained weight, the health problems started to appear. My husband was in his late 30’s and suffering from sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, gout and high cholesterol. That was our first wake up call. We are now obese and he has developed some serious illnesses. He started his medications and his breathing machine and we changed the way we ate. I started cooking more and started looking at sugar free alternatives for desert. Desert is my husband’s biggest weakness. Klondike made these great sugar free bars that he really liked and since I am not much of a baker, I was relieved. He started losing weight by just regulating his sugar and sleep, but I wasn’t.
I joined Curves and still no significant weight loss. I couldn’t understand. We were eating mostly salads now and started to grill every other week and we cut our takeout by 90% as well as cut out soda completely. We do feel better, but I am still obese and he has plateaued. So what was going on?
I started looking into health supplements and what ingredients increased your metabolism. Money down the drain, most of the time. And gradually I started thinking about the foods that we put in our body. Yes, we eat mostly salad, but what else do we eat. I buy granola bars, I use butter, I buy my daughter Nutella. I make life easier for me by buying all of my condiments, dressings, broth, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. I realized that I buy a lot of processed items. I started by looking at the labels to see what was in the butter, in the half and half, etc. And there came the shock. Butter was just not churned cream, but it had natural flavors. Why would you add natural flavors to something that is already natural? and if it is a natural flavor, what is it? Nutella was just not chocolate, milk and hazelnuts, it had all these additives and emulsifiers. half/half had starch and sugar and other ingredients than half cream half milk. And the list goes on!
That’s when the true awakening happened, when I realized that what you think is wholesome is altered even if it is organic. And there my journey began…
As a full time working mother, I always felt that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, and living in a society based on consumerism and one that lacks any concept of self sufficiency, you firmly and wholeheartedly believe that. You are constantly bombarded with adds that tell you that you are way too busy to make anything or to prepare anything and that’s why you need our products. How could you take the time to prepare anything when you have a family and you are working full time? You don’t need to make a salad, here is a salad in a bag. You don’t need to make peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here is a ready made sandwich, really! How easy is it to go the grocery store and just pickup everything in a jar or a bag? But at what cost!
When I finally woke up and realized that the cost of convenience is a bit too high for me and my family, I embarked on this journey to educate myself on why it is vital to start eliminating processing from a majority of what we consume in our daily lives. I found that in the long run, it is economical and gives you a better quality of life. As I started talking with my family and started sharing with them what I know and what I have learned, my sister-in-law suggested that I do something online to share my findings so that others may benefit.
So I have decided to start this blog as a way to share my findings and thoughts with my family and friends and as a way to collect all my research and thoughts in one place. I hope that you find this information helpful and beneficial to you and your loved ones.
Trust me! You are not too busy to live unprocessed.