Friday, January 22, 2010

The Now of the Frau

Since the Frau has disclosed that her attention span is debilitatingly short, she will disclose that while the food/consumption culture related posts may be full of wonder, passion, and determination this week, next week’s post may revolve around using dried tofu loafs as rustic doorstops. I just want to be clear that I am not on any kind of a mission to change anyone’s world but mine.

I bought organic milk, half & half, and broccoli from our local co-op yesterday. It cost me a little over $8 and that included a $2 coupon savings. If you know me very well at all, you will know this is not my normal modus operandi. I am, what is known in polite circles as, a tightwad. Moreover, I am an enthusiastic one and will generally share my knowledge of how to become one just like me with anyone who will listen. Having lived most of my life either teetering on the poverty line or living on a hardcore budget, it’s hard for me to live any other way. It’s really less about how much money I have and save than it is about who ‘deserves’ to get some of my money. For example, walmart, the cable company, and stores/gas stations without changing tables are not getting much money from me anymore. The quality of their products/services has rooted them firmly in the ‘undeserving' category. I feel I can and should give my money to more ‘deserving’ entities whether they be charities, someone in need, or another retailer.

So, I like to save money. I research purchases, shop off season, only buy on sale, clip coupons, and stock up on things when they are at their lowest price. There will be posts to this blog detailing those methods as I have promised to share that info with some people. However, I am attempting to make some changes in the way our household consumes goods, namely food. While pregnant last year, I started thinking about what was going in my body and I wasn’t terribly happy with the MSDS data sheet that resulted. I think ,food wise, we live in a very different world than we did the last time I was pregnant in 1993. As a biologist, I know some things.

So to begin, I’ve decided to start by switching at least some of our dairy to organic and sustainable sources available in our region. Since the portion of our food budget related to dairy is probably less than 10%, I am hoping that it won’t break the bank. But it does mean that something else will have to go. The stuff that will go first doesn’t really belong in our pantry in the first place; cheap, unhealthy, convenience foods with an ingredient list that looks like it needs an index. I am foodie, for pete’s sake. Why am I buying this crap?

This weekend we will start purging the pantry of said crap, one meal at a time. Yes, we are going to eat it. If you had any doubts and think my integrity is in question because of that, see paragraph two and stay tuned.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Tao of the Frau

Welcome to my blog. For the record, it’s not totally new. I’ve had the blank, titled blog for at least a year. Truth is, it might still be blank if my eighteen year old daughter Sara hadn’t shamed me into actually writing something to post in it. She did this by: 1) starting her own food blog and 2) asking me when I signed up for twitter if I was just ‘reserving the name’ again or if I was actually planning to use it. Brat.

My intention for the blog was initially to find a way to disseminate some of the useful information I’d gleaned over the years as a busy, broke, & frugal single parent. Since I recognize my ADD tendencies I knew without a doubt that I would be unable to keep things in any one category. Hence, the Random.

Now the Hausfrau. Let me first say that I use the title of Hausfrau with a great deal of affection. At a very early age, perhaps in the farm kitchen of my Cajun maman’s house, I began to love all things about the kitchen. My favorite parts of childhood books were the descriptive passages of mealtimes. I could smell Ma Ingall’s ‘corncakes’; I swear I could. I learned to cook pretty early in life and I’ve always enjoyed the process. After a weekend of campfire cooking in high school, I earned the nickname “Ma Joad” as in the family matriarch from “The Grapes of Wrath.” I took this as a supreme compliment because to me it meant I was skillful in a pretty meaningful way; I could feed a lot of people, very well and very cheaply, with minimal tools and resources. Even then at seventeen, I thought that rocked.

I also devoured any book about homekeeping published during what I call the ‘golden age of the American housewife.’ These snapshots of American home culture from another age were fascinating to me. And although I am now a professional working woman juggling parenting and life-maintenance chores with a supportive spouse, I still find myself longing for an existence that is focused on cooking a nice dinner, keeping clean underwear at the ready at all times, and not killing the houseplants. I also long for an existence where I have trouble fitting in my afternoon scuba dive between my morning massage and my all-inclusive, pre-dinner margaritas. The latter is why I work. I could say that it’s all about presenting a positive role model for my daughters, that education and hard work payoff in security and self-worth, blah, blah, blah and it would certainly be true to some degree. But I can’t say it’s the main reason.

Before you go thinking I am some sort of home management whiz with a well kept house and garden, I should let you know that I most certainly am not. And I don’t beat myself up for it. I enjoy time with the family, pursuing hobbies (mostly music), and sometimes (often) just being lazy. The Random Hausfrau has many alter egos. I am a great cook; I also burn stuff a lot. I love to plan & plant a garden; I am lousy at maintaining one. I hate it when the towels are folded ‘wrong’; I won’t say how long it’s been since I’ve mopped. I am certainly nothing to aspire to.

But my aspirations for myself are simple and probably seem quaint to some. Square, even. Perhaps an affront to feminists everywhere. I want to enjoy time spent at home making everyday life nicer for myself and those around me. Yes, I want to give of my time and money to make a difference in my community. I want to read books, keep apprised of current events, and be able to have intellectually stimulating conversations. But if I can share a meal and relax at home with my family at the end of the day, I can call it a good one.

If not there’s always tomorrow.