A few years ago I read In Defense of Food. I have to be honest: I'm a little tired of people using scare tactics to win my support for their cause. Don't drink that or you'll get cancer! You better only eat organic or you're going to die an early death! And I thought I was dramatic.
I make a good attempt to be healthy. One thing I did learn from In Defense of Food was what to look for when I buy bread. It was something along the lines that you should look at the ingredients and the first thing should be whole wheat flour. I can't really remember exactly. But I took the book with me to the grocery store and found a loaf that fit the criteria and we have been eating that same bread ever since.
It was a little on the expensive side (about $3.50 per loaf), but I figured I was saving myself all the money I would later spend on medical bills...right? Well last week I went to the grocery store and this little loaf of bread cost $4.79!!! Really? For bread?
I cannot spend nearly $5 for bread. We are not a low-carb/no carb household. I need my toast and my sandwiches (and if I'm being completely honest, my French toast). So I started looking into other options and it turns out very few breads have whole wheat flour as the first ingredient. Luckily, in a well-timed post, Our Best Bites put up this recipe for multigrain bread last week.
I wish I were one of those cool people who could say how much each loaf of bread cost me to make, but truthfully I had all but one ingredient on hand (the 7-grain hot cereal mix which cost about $3.75, but I'll probably be able to use it for about 20 loaves). So I have no idea how much this bread saved me or if it even did save me any money. What I do know is that it tasted really good. And it was easy to make.
I have never thought I was one of those women who makes her own bread. (I don't really know who those women are that I am referring to. Maybe just women who are so on top of things that they actually make their own bread?) It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined. It's kinda like doing laundry: not a lot of effort or skill required, but a lot of time. It took probably 4 or 5 hours from start to finish. BUT, it probably only took 25 minutes of actual work. You could potentially make a lot all at once and then save yourself a lot of time. I do recommend using a KitchenAid or some type of stand mixer, though.
So as I was in the middle of my breadmaking adventure, I got an email from my dad about Mormon women and cooking. (I seriously couldn't have timed all of this any better. Why can't this good timing apply to something of a little more importance in my life?) Have you read this? It's a NY Times article all about Mormon tradition in the kitchen.
I grew up in California and I somehow missed out on a lot of the Mormon traditional cooking. My mom was a really amazing cook, but few of her recipes included cream-of-something soup (I LOVED that reference in the article). We ate lots of salads and fish and grilled chicken.
Then I went to BYU and a whole new world of food was opened up to me. Goldfish in the salad bar? Dessert at every meal? All canned vegetables? Yes, yes, and yes. (And by the way, are Hawaiian haystacks really from Hawaii? They totally seem like something a creative/desperate mom concocted one night.)
Anyway, the Canon Center (our dining hall) introduced me to quite the cuisine. There were some dishes I quite enjoyed and others I hope to never have to eat again. But what I loved about that article was that it pointed out how Mormon women understand how important good food is. Now that I am pretty much the one in charge of buying groceries, planning meals, and cooking, I realize how much thought and effort go into all of it--and what a difference it makes in our day-to-day life.
There's just something about a good meal at home that even the best restaurant can't provide. And there's something about a well-stocked fridge that makes me feel good about life. It can be a little overwhelming at times, or even seem unnecessary with a McDonald's on every corner. But food--good food--is important.
I found this remake of a vintage poster here. I want to hang it in my kitchen as a good reminder. This is the type of food philosophy I can really see myself following. So much better than a sign on my fridge that says, "Eat this and die!" :)