Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seasons of Life in Jerusha's Kitchen

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose..."

Over the years, my approach to menus has varied according to my family's needs.

Mom taught me to cook from scratch, to can and freeze fresh produce, and to modify recipes to boost nutritional value. When I was first married, I had to scale down my menus to fit just two people. (I made a batch of jam that sat in the cupboard for years!) I was learning my new husband’s preferences (trying not to take his honesty too personally), experimenting with new appliances and cookware, and trying to stock a spice cabinet without breaking the budget.

The next year I was mixing up baby food in the blender. I adapted my diet while pregnant, switching to skim milk and lowfat cheese while bumping up the iron-rich foods to combat my anemia. The year after that I had two little ones and I was desperate for kitchen shortcuts. My mom bought instant pudding and instant mashed potatoes--I needed more foods like that! 

I studied easy recipes and used a cake mix for the first time since childhood. I discovered stovetop stuffing. Combined with diced chicken, fresh vegetables, and cream soup, it was pretty good! Jambalaya and cornbread out of boxes? Why not? For Thanksgiving, I even bought a pre-roasted frozen turkey!

I joined a casserole swap group.  I experimented with mega-cooking, bought a pile of pans for the freezer, and discovered through trial-and-error which foods are the best candidates for frozen storage. We were still figuring out the grocery budget. Sometimes we ate chicken nuggets, or boxed macaroni and cheese. My kids had standards, though. Chef Boyardee ravioli did not impress. :)

Then came our years of homeschooling, when my kitchen was part schoolroom and I cooked on autopilot while answering questions and keeping the kids on task. I learned more about food, about my ingredients and where they came from. And I began to involve my kids in shopping, in gardening, in preparing the foods they enjoyed and trying the unfamiliar. Once in a while, we even made our own pizza. More often though, our pizza arrived in boxes on days when I'd been in particularly productive outside of the kitchen!
This year, all the kids are in school for the first time and I've had more time to play in my own kitchen than ever before. I am remembering just how much I enjoy cooking, for its own sake! I'm baking again. I've even found time to start a cooking blog! I've kept a few of our favorite shortcuts; they are on standby for weeks like this when two kids have to be at two school concerts on the same night in opposite directions immediately after dinner!

So there is a time for shortcuts, and there is a time for finishing touches. There's a time to simmer a stock for hours, and there's a time to open a can. 

In whatever season of life you find yourself right now, don't be afraid to embrace it as you take care of yourself and the people close to you. 


  1. I really love that you're doing this! It is kind of like we are in the same therapy group. :) There is something so wonderful about being able to knead your frustrations into dough, whip your tears into cream, chop your fears into vegetables with a large knife, and fashion something beautiful out of mess that everyone ends up enjoying. "In whatever season of life you find yourself right now, don't be afraid to embrace it as you take care of yourself and the people close to you." Beautiful words, my sister!

  2. I love this! You are creating, almost instantly, the most enjoyable food blog I've ever seen... I predict it takes off with wild success!