I was talking to the editor of Culinate, in Northwest Portland, only a few blocks from where (just 14 years ago) I learned to emulsify, and how to make a roux. (She is asking me to write a column on Culinate about our local foods adventure, and I think I will. Stay tuned.) I was telling her, briefly, about my plans, my limits and restrictions.
"But don't you think it will be a lot of work?" she asked.
I said instinctively, "yes, but it's the work I should be doing, isn't it?" I'd just been listening to an interview with Michael Pollan, he, talking about how we used to spend 18% of our income, and three hours each day of our time, on our food. Today? Less than 10% of our money and one hour of our time is invested. How much time do you spend commuting? Shopping? Going to get convenience foods? Watching TV? Surfing idly? (N.B.: Time spent reading cafemama is anything but idle. Seriously!)
Today, as I putter around, making cinnamon rolls on a whim for breakfast (using my five-minutes-a-day bread dough); starting a roast chicken, tortillas< /a>, black beans for enchiladas; wondering hopefully if I can make pear butter without the citric acid called for in my recipe; falling in love with sea salt, I am struck with the rightness of this. Even my husband, always reluctant to be taught a new culinary skill, suddenly learns how to bake a loaf of bread and does it right (the third time), gets up the guts to carve a chicken, suggests that we grow our own wheat to make into flour a breath before I was going to suggest it. He asks me to grow sprouts, and suddenly, I am growing them; I get up the guts to bake with honey instead of sugar and it turns out perfectly, better than without.
This is not the work I should be doing. This is the work I need to do. My children eat slice after slice of homemade bread and devour my scones. They rhapsodize over the homemade pizza and stop asking for delivery. I serve them scrambled eggs by the half-dozen and thin-sliced Niman Ranch ham instead of going to Starbucks for breakfast sandwiches. I plan my vacations around the garden. I learn something new every day, drinking in knowledge on hot-water bath canning and I need this work, to return to the center, to be home in myself.