Life in the Food Chain

Photo by Diliara Garifullina on Unsplash

Every once in a while, I just don’t feel like making dinner. Maybe I’ve been out on the bike all day, or ruined my back in the garden, or perhaps I’m just plain lazy. But when I start to think about where to go to find a good meal, and what a chore it is to put a bra on, find a matching shirt to go with the semi-clean pants I’ve been wearing for a week, not to mention having to wait in line for a mediocre meal or spend a fortune on a really good one, well, suddenly I’m motivated to cook.

I am by no standard a gourmet cook, but I can make the simplest fare into a labor intensive marathon. Starting with my organic garden, the backbreaking labor of turning compost piles, preparing the soil, planting, pruning, weeding, endless watering, creating shades, harvesting, washing, picking off bugs (no pesticides to aid in the battle) and this is all before the food gets to the kitchen.

A simple task of making bread begins with a trip to the Adventist market where I can buy heirloom, organic whole grains to grind into the most aromatic flour you can imagine. Did you know that flour has an aroma? A bread machine may seem like an ironic shortcut, but it makes having fresh, homemade bread in the house a regular thing.

In an effort to avoid processed foods and foods that have unpronounceable ingredients, I make most things from scratch. I couldn’t find mayonnaise in the store that didn’t have soybean oil or some other vegetable oil in it, so now I make olive oil mayo from scratch. It has a shelf life of two weeks, so it can’t be made in large batches. It takes a long time to blend the olive oil into the egg yolks so I pop in the ear buds, put on ear muffs, and listen to an audible book. I’m almost finished with War and Peace.

I was tired of over-salted, canned enchilada sauce overpowering the flavors of my cheese and eggplant enchilada casserole, so I found a recipe for “authentic” enchilada sauce online. What a score! It’s simple and vegan too. Made from three kinds of dried chiles, which are cheap at the local multicultural market, I can whip up a batch and freeze it in sandwich bags for future use.

And then there’s the dog food. Every two weeks, I load two big crock pots with an assortment of fresh vegetables, rice, steel-cut oats, potatoes, chicken, whatever cut of pork is on special, and stink up the granny flat. Six and a half hours later, I de-bone the chicken legs and thighs, shred the pork, add raw liver (ick!) and fill nine quart-sized yogurt containers with dog food fit for a German Shepherd dog and a Border Collie, AKA my girls. Including the clean-up, the whole operation probably takes about three hours.

People assume I like to cook since I spend so much time preparing food; but the truth is, I like to drink wine and listen to audible books and cooking gives me an excuse to do those things while looking productive.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

8 thoughts on “Life in the Food Chain

    1. I only need to outlive my dogs, though I suppose my husband would starve to death if he had to feed himself too. Considering the unsavory things dogs eat, I doubt they appreciate my efforts. When I learned that an ingredient in commercial dog food is something called putrecine, ostensibly to give it that enticing aroma, I began making my own.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well, that was exhausting to read. Don’t get me wrong, it was a 0 calorie endeavor, but knowing my way around the kitchen I truly understood the amount of effort involved in the work you described.
    The closest I’ll come to making bread is one of the no-knead recipes that float around the Internet. Pretty easy, but it takes an overnight and the minimal tasks keep me unnecessarily chained to the house, so it’s not often. It’s a far cry from making my own flour! And luckily, I hate Mayo. I call it food lube. But reading aioli recipes is fun!
    You go, chef granny. 💪🏽


  2. Wow, you put a lot of work into what goes on your table. Most of what I call “cooking” is doctoring or adding to commercial products or take-out, or transforming leftovers into a different meal. My dog eats dog food from the store. The only exception I made was for my overweight Lab, who lived on canned tuna, brown rice, and green beans. (He didn’t like lo-cal dry food from the store and would steal food he wasn’t supposed to have, like bags of bread off the top of grocery bags and chicken bones out of the trash. Once he ate a whole pound of raisins.) Did you make that beautiful quiche in the photo? Mine never come out looking like that.


    1. Did he survive the raisins? My niece, a helicopter dog mom, thought her dog had eaten some grapes, so she took her to a strange vet in a strange town to have her stomach emptied. Turned out it was cheese. Poor dog! Anyway, I didn’t make the quiche in the photo but I do make a chile relleno casserole, freshly roasted pasilla chiles of course, that looks as good. BTW, you can make your dog vomit up raisins by introducing a little hydrogen peroxide, in case you didn’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Lab survived the raisins. They went through him whole, he pooped a big pile of raisins the next day. He ate M&Ms, too. And a chunk of deodorant that fell out of an almost empty container and landed on the floor. He had an iron stomach. Your casserole sounds delicious. I wish cheese still agreed with me.


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