Is The Homemade Crusade Practical? My Weekend as a Homemade Renegade
Apr. 12, 2010 9:07 am
Updated: Aug. 10, 2010 1:43 pm
Last week there were several AR blog entries about convenience foods, grocery store woes, and the push for a "Homemade Crusade". This really got me thinking. Is this even possible? Yes, the United States is the fattest country in the world. Yes, we're unhealthy, sedentary, and have lost the desire (and in some cases the skill) to make things from scratch. However, it's not entirely because we're lazy, we're also very busy. Most countries in the world don't devote as much time to working as we do here in the U.S. It's not uncommon to have a 60 hour, or even an 80 hour work week, and most American families are also two income households. My family isn't; we've made certain sacrifices, and sometimes have to do some creative juggling to allow me to stay at home with our kids. Though I am a stay at home mom, with three kids in diapers my day is not nearly as long as my to-to list. I do make most of what we eat from scratch (I'd say we're at about 80%), but I don't know that I'd have the time or energy to go at it 100%. Since this past weekend was the Master's, I knew we wouldn't be leaving the house and with Hubs at home to help with the boys, I thought I'd give it a go. Here was my weekend:
Woke up bright and early on Saturday. Made a pretty typical weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and grapefruit. So far so good, no extra work here. About mid-morning, Hubs made an unusual request--oatmeal raisin cookies. I knew I had some craisins in the cabinet, but wasn't sure about the raisins, so I whipped up a batch of oatmeal craisin cookies and proceeded to eat more than my fair share. Just can't pass up the baked goods. Afternoon is where things got a little tricky.
Maybe I was overly ambitious this particular weekend, because I decided to take on this little side project on a weekend that I knew I was going to have to cook a turkey. I buy a lot of whole turkeys, mostly during the holiday season when I can buy a 15-18 pound bird for around $6.00. One turkey will feed my family for a week, not bad for $6.00! They're a little labor intensive, though. I don't roast them whole unless it's for a special occasion, because roasting a whole bird leaves us with a lot of picked over, dried-out leftovers. Instead I have hubs cut them down for me. The legs and thighs go into a roasting pan for that night's dinner, plus leftovers; the wings and back into a stock pot for stock and meat for casseroles or soup, and the whole breast gets brined overnight and roasted for Sunday's dinner plus sandwich meat for the next week. It's quite a process, and even more so with kids running around. Between the cutting, cleaning and disinfecting, cooking, and dish-washing, I was exhausted by the evening. I made oven roasted barbeque turkey legs and thighs for dinner, and served with a green salad and cauliflower "mashed potatoes". Once the turkey stock was cooked and cooled, I picked the meat off the bones, strained the broth, and bagged the whole thing to go in the freezer. I then cleaned the whole kitchen again to be sure we weren't going to have any salmonella issues. Baked granola bars for the boys. Washed dishes again. Finally made it to bed after midnight.
Woke up bright and early again on Sunday. Breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and grapefruit (see a pattern? Hubs loves his weekend breakfasts) Settled in for the final day of the Master's. We usually have family over on Sunday, so that really helps the kid situation, and lets me focus on cooking the Sunday dinner. We eat early, usually around 2 in the afternoon, and then make something light for the kids if they want dinner before they go to bed. This week, dinner was the brined roast turkey breast. I leave it overnight in a solution of 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 quart of buttermilk, and enough water to submerge the breast completely. After about 18 hours in brine, I rinse the breast thoroughly, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it in a cast iron french oven. Rub a little olive oil over the skin, and place the lid on the french oven. Roast at 350 for half an hour, then remove the lid, increase the oven temperature to 425 and cook another 45 minutes, or until the breast reaches temp. I know it's recommended that you cook breast meat to 180 degrees, but I only let it come up to 165-ish, otherwise it's overcooked and dry. Remove from the oven and let it sit in the pan about ten minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and rest another ten minutes. This is the best method I've found to perfectly cooked, super moist breast meat. Even hubs loves it and he doesn't like white meat. We had a total of 5 adults and two kids at the table, and ate half the breast, which left plenty of meat left for a second meal for our family and sandwiches for the week. Sunday dinner was complete with homemade mac and cheese, a brown and wild rice blend cooked in turkey stock, and steamed broccoli. Once dinner was over, the dishes washed and the kitchen cleaned, I made whole wheat bread for the week's lunches, homemade oatmeal mix for week day breakfasts and I was done for the day. With the cooking, anyway. There was still the rest of the house to be cleaned, laundry to wash, ironing to do, kids needing to be bathed and put to bed....you get my drift. I got to bed after midnight.
Monday morning, up at 5 am. Got hubs off to work with a belly full of Apple Cinnamon oatmeal from my homemade mix (recipe on this site) and a sack lunch of turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, fruit, and craisin oatmeal cookies. Folks, I am exhausted. I washed so many dishes this weekend that I lost count of how many times I ran the dishwasher. I have permanently dish-panned hands from the pots and pans that I hand washed, my house still isn't clean enough, and I have piles of laundry to fold and put away. More than that, though, I am PROUD. I made it the whole weekend, have meals planned for the week, and fed my family really well. So here is my conclusion:
Is the Homemade Crusade possible? I say YES!!! It isn't easy, but it's absolutely possible. I did most of my week's cooking on the weekend, so two income families could do this as well. I've menu planned for the rest of the week, so all thats left to do is prepare the planned dinners and I'll have to bake another loaf of whole wheat bread at some point. Piece of cake. I thought this might be hard, and it was, but effortless meals are what got our country into the mess that we're in. What's more, I did it on a budget, using whole foods found at WALMART. Nothing fancy, certainly not gourmet, but it's all healthy, whole, homemade and tasty. I'm convinced enough to keep it going. We'll see what the week brings, but I'm really excited about this. Maybe next weekend I'll dust off the pasta crank.....