This afternoon, I achieved a minor culinary success and had a great five hours of cooking. For a total grocery bill of seventy dollars and basic ingredients at home (flour, celery, butter, stock, seasoning, coconut), I cooked the following.

1. One large lasagna (4 meals); divided into meal-sized portions and frozen
2. Four hamburgers (ground with bacon); seasoned, formed, and frozen
3. Three dozen pierogies (potato, bacon, and cottage cheese); formed and frozen
4. Six quarts of chicken stock
5. Meat of one chicken; stewed and saved for the week’s lunches
6. One head of cabbage fermenting into sauerkraut
7. Two dozen carrot cookies with orange icing
8. Baked risotto with sausage (2 meals)

Here’s a loose outline of my procedure.

1. Stock: Put veggies & chicken into stockpot to soak for thirty minutes before cooking.
2. Lasagna: Sauté onion in Dutch oven.
3. Pierogies: Bring oven to 400 degrees and bake potatoes for 1 hr.
4. Lasagna & Burgers: Grind 2 lb. chuck roast. Remove ½ for lasagna and grind 4 slices of bacon into the other pound of beef.
5. Stock: Bring to a simmer.
6. Lasagna: Brown burger and ½ lb. Italian sausage. When browned, add tomatoes, wine, seasonings. Cook for 1 ½ hours.
7. Burgers: Season, form patties, freeze on cookie sheets.
8. Pierogies: Make dough.
9. Lasagna: Boil lasagna noodles, drain. Assemble lasagna.
10. Cookies: Steam carrots. Mash carrots and mix ingredients to a dough.
11. Pierogies: Remove potatoes from oven; cool briefly, skin.
12. Cookies: Bake cookies, cool on rack.
13. Lasagna: Bake lasagna.
14. Pierogies: Mix ingredients, roll dough, fill, freeze on cookie sheets.
15. Sauerkraut: Shred, “juice,” bottle.
16. Cookies: Make frosting; ice cookies.
17. Risotto: Make & bake.
18. Stock: Cool; pull chicken.

The point of all this is that I had a great time, and I felt pleasure in what I’d accomplished. And I made great progress in understanding timing in cooking and the thrift of overlapping ingredients and preparations—invaluable information in my purpose of establishing methods of SCRATCH cooking.

On another note, I started reading a super-interesting text called Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The book was originally published in 1942, reprinted in 1996, and I picked it up this morning at a garage sale for $1.00—more about that later. For another dollar, I purchased In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley; I look forward to trying her Poppy Seed Angel Food Cake with Grapefruit Curd. For my own book, I’ve been working on an angel food cake recipe, Saffron Angel Food Cake with Whipped Orange Water Mascarpone.



This morning, I began constructing this blog—the hysteria of Six Feet Under re-runs in the background—and noticed several ads for Rice Krispies new Cereal Straws. Our old friends Snap, Crackle, and Pop have a new attitude: the typical small-adult, smart-ass, snarky-ness that America loves so much. They’re street-wise, irreverent, and rather than just snap, crackle, and pop, they now dip, sip, and munch as well. New Cocoa Krispy straws, a cereal shell lined with a chocolaty filling, are perfect for enticing America’s kids to drink they’re soy or lactose-free milk; great to wash down ADHD meds; an excellent means of inserting refined sugar and processed chocolatey-gunk into every aspect of young America’s diet. Awesome.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited our nephews in Washington, Indiana. Each of our older nephews (Drew, age 9 and Berkley, age 5) had a soccer game. At the last whistle of the game, the kids—especially the young ones—rushed towards the snack bar; Chris’s sister, Kara, explained that each soccer player is allowed to choose two snacks after their game. The parents pay for this in a round. Both of our nephews chose Mountain Dew and a candy item. Should gyms institute a similar practice?

I’ve just started reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, a complex cookbook/food philosophy text that challenges America’s “diet dictocrats” with an all-natural, anti-vegetarian—and I’m talking sweetbreads and brains here—approach. There are a few ideas in the book that I easily buy into—views that reinforce my own belief system: avoid processed as much as possible, especially any “fattening” product that claims to be reduced-fat such as cream cheese and sour cream; eat a balance of meats and veggies; insert healthy foods whenever possible—oatmeal in waffles, flax seed in muffins. But I have trouble with the labor-intensive practices—such as soaking all grains for 24 hours—that will keep ordinary folks reaching for extruded cereals and instant rice.

Within the book I’m writing, SCRATCH, I hope to achieve a balance, less than extremist but a healthier version of ordinary. There’s a better way to live in post-modern America eating healthily, affordably, and interesting, and I intend to piece it together.