DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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19 January 2016

What is good about what we do

I'm often asked how to start living life more simply. My answer is to concentrate on whatever your energy is spent on right now - so if  you're actively engaged in paying down debt, develop more ways to save money and continue to reduce your debt. If you're an avid gardener, work out what you can grow in your own back yard, save money by doing it and provide fresh organic food for your table. If you've got sensitive skin or illness in your family, start by making some of your own cleansers and laundry products. If you're over worked and stressed out, start by slowing down and developing routines.


We'd already paid off our debt when we discovered the wonderful world of simplicity but I had two teenagers at home so my focus was on providing home cooked meals of good variety, taste and quality. Home cooking led me to move my shopping from the supermarket to the wider community, save money, grow more of my own food, menu plan and learn some traditional skills that I'd not thought about before.  I also rediscovered that home cooking presented the splendid repetitive ritual of meal times at the kitchen table. Meals shared with loved ones provides a much needed focus every day that also gives us a reason to sit and talk. Food binds us together, it provides many opportunities for hospitality and generosity, it teaches us about gratitude and daily chores and it comes to symbolise what is good about what we do.


I have about 30 home cooked main meals that I can produce without a recipe. Most of them are ordinary and simple and just the thing to keep us warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot. When I was developing my repertoire I thought my meals were just a collection from all over the place. Now I know they're my family's recipes, handled down to me via my mother and father's home cooking, and given to them by their mothers and grandmothers. It is only now that I realise they're mainly Irish and Swedish and a true reflection of both my grandmothers' heritage.



Family traditions and your own heritage is a great place to start home cooking or to expand on what you're already doing. Just start cooking some of the food you grew up eating. Of course you can modify it if you want to, but if you're anything like me, you'll want that authentic taste from the past when you sat at your parents' table and might not even have known what you were eating.



You'll probably find that real home cooking - and I'm not talking about tins of soup, cake mixes and gravy powder - real home cooking will lead you into a world of stocks, sauces, fresh vegetables, cheaper cuts of meat, fish, dairy foods, fermenting and learning how to use leftovers. I hope it will also lead you to sit down around the table and eat together, with no phones or ipads, so that real life can be talked about. That respect for the family mealtime was unquestioned when I was a girl but it seems to be gone for some of us now.  But that's okay, one of the skills you can learn with your home cooking is how to reestablish that evening ritual of laying a clean cloth and homemade napkins, setting the table with cutlery, water glasses and a jug and gathering the family around. That simple ritual of good food shared with the family will become one of the things you all look forward to after a day of school or work. Coming home to the aroma of home cooking and a table set for a meal is one of life's simple luxuries.



29 comments:

  1. I'm peering closely at each picture to work out the recipe! So agree about sitting down and enjoying time together. Right now my emphasis is on chucking out, decluttering etc. the next move will not be a corporate one, paid for, but our own to to wherever we'll choose for retirement, so if we don't need or want it, out it goes!

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  2. Being of Swedish descent, I would be very interested in knowing what your standby dinners taken from that heritage are...please share with us sometime!

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  3. You are so right Ronda. I love cooking and it is something DH and I do together or share. Since we adopted a LCHF lifestyle we have absolutely no packaged or pre-prepared foods in our place except for Dijon mustard, ham, cheeses, butter, milk and cream.

    I have a very old recipe book that belonged to my Grandmother but the recipe I want the most is her meatballs and macaroni that I remember from my childhood, but it is no where to be found,.....I can almost taste it as I write this.

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  4. Hi Rhonda, I couldn't agree more, growing up we always waited for Dad to get home so we could eat as a family. Mum was a wonderful cook and has passed that love of cooking good food on to me. I, in turn, have "accidentally " taught my kids to cook good wholesome food, just by the simple act of eating as a family, at home. Thanks for another great post, have a good day.

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  5. Rhonda, your food always looks so good. I love that nicoise salad, what a meal! Can you provide the recipe for that fruit topped cake, I love anything like that. Have a nice day,

    Cheers - Joolz xx

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  6. I agree with you, Rhonda. Starting where one is must be the best way to begin anything in life... We learn more by doing more... I miss family meal times. My Mister won't sit at a table. He wants to be in front of the TV and there nothing I can do to change it... but I have my own ritual and that is enough... :) This year I have challenged myself to eat from my pantry and garden more. So far, so good! :) It is so cold here right now (wind chill of -1 F) we are enjoying the home canned veggie soups and warm breads with butter and cheese... Life is the celebration of the simple, isn't it?

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  7. I agree about the importance of meal times. My siblings and I had a lot of freedom when we were kids in the 70s more than our peers, but one rule we had was we had to be home for meal times. Mum used to write the times on a chalkboard and we weren't allowed out the house until we had marked that we had read it and we wer checked to see we had a watch on! But we always came home because we loved our meal times they would last along time (and still do when we all get together) as we would sit and talk as we ate. That is not to say that we were always out as I remember watching and helping with the preparation of many of the meals we ate. I eat three meals a day with my children, as we are home educating this is possible. We have the most interesting discussions at our table and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  8. Sitting down and eating at the table has always been a part of our family life. Eating using your knife and fork properly, using napkins and chewing with your mouth shut were ingrained in our children from when they first sat the table. Now they are adults and insist on eating at the table in their own homes. Both my daughter and my son learnt how to cook from their father. Both cook meals from scratch for their homes. It's a small but extremely important part of their heritage.

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  9. Hi Rhonda I never post on your site although I have been a follower of yours for many years. Every time I read your posts I just feel so refreshed!! I feel like I am visiting an old friend.

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  10. Rhonda, is there a list of your meals that you use?

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    1. The only list is in my head, Miss Robyn.

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  11. Oh those potatoes in your salad look so good! We eat as a family every night. Daddy has taught our girls to say thank you for the meal (ages 1 and 3) and they know to put their napkins in their laps. The meals aren't always fancy or even put together well, but we are together, and that's what counts.

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  12. Thanks for the advice, Rhonda. I found it quite overwhelming in my first year of trying to live more simply to try and do everything. And, of course, this is a bit contradictory. I will go where my energy and passion is taking me!

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  13. Four hungry boys will be coming home this afternoon. There will be a stack of Norwagian pancakes on the table and lit candles when they do. The wood fire will be burning and the table laid. Most likely, they will get a whiff of the smell as they come down the slope. A luxury I remember from my childhood. Pam in Norway

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    1. Beautiful, Pam. I wish I was coming down the slope with them. xx

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    2. I, too, wish I could be there!

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  14. Rhonda, what a wonderfully inspiring post. I will use this to help me on my quest in the next couple of weeks to come up with some new dishes for the family. Thank you.

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  15. Great post with mouth-watering pictures. I've been cooking from scratch for many years, and one of things I like to point out is that you don't have to cook like a professional. Being a home-cook is just fine and is something to be proud of. While the cooking shows are fun to watch, they can also be intimidating, making beginners feel as though they can never measure up.

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    1. Agreed. And, not only that; some of that stuff is just not necessary!

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  16. What a wonderful post!! I love to cook and putting a nice meal on the table and gathering my family around is definitely one of my favorite parts of the day!

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  17. Wonderful blog, inspired me to cook...thank you. Woo xx

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  18. Oh what a yummy selection of food. I always seem to lack inspiration at food time but want my family to eat well. Your pictures get me inspired!

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  19. Oh Rhonda I love the photo of the Salmon and Salad dish above. Can you tell me what you have done with potatoes? The potatoes look amazeballs ;-)

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    1. They're just cut in quarters, boiled and then I added butter, parsley, salt and pepper.

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  20. I loved this post and the pictures. I remember your pear cake that is really scrumptious! I searched your blog for the plum cake and I plan on baking it tonight, substituting peaches for the plums. I've been working really hard on budgeting, cooking from scratch and saving more money. I think my energy level is up because of the changes I've made. Everything has been paid this month and I've put away $162 in the savings account, $300 cash in envelopes for upcoming expenses and made out two weeks' worth of supper menus. Tonight is country ham, cooked apples, corn on the cob (bought this supper and frozen), and homemade biscuits. My goodness, that sounds like a lot to me and I still have energy to clean a closet. It's amazing what getting your head straight does for you!!

    Diane in North Carolina

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    1. Great work on the cooking and the saving, Diane!

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