Lost Arts Kitchen
Slow Food Traditions for Modern Life
I have always loved to cook and been fascinated with how our ancestors prepared food without all the conveniences most Americans have today. Growing up, I helped my family raise vegetables in our kitchen garden, butcher hogs on my uncle’s farm, and can endless jars of food for what I jokingly referred to then as our “Armageddon Pantry.”
In my 20s, I taught myself to cook classic French cuisine with the help of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Anne Willan’s La Varenne Practique. Those were the days of wine and roses, when I had time to treat my friends to lavish multi-course dinner parties. In my 30s, I expanded my exploration of world cuisines and learned to make sushi and curries while exploring my Pennsylvania Dutch and Italian food roots as well. As a mother in my 40s, looking to make healthy food for my family, bread baking, cheese making, lacto-fermentation, canning, and other lost arts entered my culinary repertoire. Throughout, I have sought whole organic food, out of concern for the health of farmers, the Earth, and my family. Long before Micahel Pollan told us all where our food comes from, I had come to understand that conventional farming practices and the industrial food system contribute significantly to the environmental and health crises we face today. I believe that we can and must return to sustainable organic farming practices, regional food systems, and preparing real food at home to save our planet and ourselves.
As the mother of two young children, I have had to adapt my cooking to my busier life and to find developmentally appropriate tasks for the eager sous-chefs who are often by my side in the kitchen. I have learned to simplify meals, for the sake of both time and the preferences of my children. I have also come to better appreciate the rhythm of the seasons, in cooking and home life, as the turning circle of the year guides what we eat and what we do, giving us changes to celebrate and familiar pleasures to enjoy.
In January 2012, soon after my daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy following a series of partial seizures, she experienced a seizure episode called status epilepticus, a dangerous, prolonged tonic-clonic seizure that only ended when EMTs gave her a powerful tranquilizer. She was hospitalized and we reluctantly agreed to begin medicating her with anti-convulsants. Determined to find a way to control her seizures without medication, I researched alternatives and learned about high fat/low carb diets for seizure control. We started her on what’s known as the Modified Atkins Diet, limiting her carbohydrate consumption to between 10-20 grams a day. Six months later, she was consistently seizure-free and we took her off medication.
My own health journey has led me to make many dietary changes. While I have found eliminating certain foods and adding others well worth the effort, these changes can be challenging nevertheless, so I get how hard it can be for those who don't love cooking as much as I do. My curiosity and persistence leads me to re-creating my favorite dishes so that they comply with my dietary restrictions. Cooking for health is a great passion for me, but never at the expense of taste. An insatiable curiosity about food and cooking and an obsession for quality ingredients makes for tasty and nutrient-dense meals.
I love to share my recipes and my tips for saving time, money and effort in the kitchen, but most of all, to encourage people to think differently about food and cooking than dietitians, government bureaucrats, industrial food marketeers, and food television executives would have us think. Real food, in its full-fat, unpasteurized, non-USDA inspected glory not only nourishes to our bodies and delights our taste buds, but cooking and preserving it at home provides the RDA of self-empowerment. And who knows where that might lead?
In Peace and Abundance,