in my kitchen: motherhood and cooking.
These days the kitchen is becoming my best friend again. I’m not just throwing out Thai takeout containers and wiping the counters, I’m actually cooking! There was a good chunk of time spent ordering take out and sorting through our stash of frozen meals…in fact we still have some meals frozen, meals that Jay made in the early postpartum, when adrenaline was high and organization was key. Both Jay and I think alike, which makes for a wonderful marriage, especially when it comes to tasks and to do lists.
But now, I’m magically finding time to cook dinner without sandpaper eyes and tired shoulders, and it feels great.
I have , however, reorganized my kitchen to suit my lifestyle as a mama. I know as time goes on and more babies come, it will only get crazier, so I’m trying to instill some methods right now, to keep me in the kitchen, making wholesome, tasty, easy meals.
Babushka Mama’s Kitchen Includes:
1. The weekly basics: May include Apples, Arugula, Avocadoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Green Onions, Kale, Tomatoes, Sweet Onions, Yogurt.
Now when I visit the grocery store, for the weekly shop, I skirt around the edges, rather than venture down the aisles. The aisles are for weekend shopping, Trader Joe shopping (across the border) and I find it takes a bit more time because I’m usually restocking my pantry. The grocery bill is smaller, the bags are lighter and everything is perishable.
2. The freezer: Celery and Ginger, Pureed Garlic and Herbs, Bananas (for baking). And of course everything else that lives in a freezer: organic butter bought on sale, wild blueberries, last summer’s blackberries from the garden, organic peas and corn.
Now, the list may look a little weird, but I find I use these ingredients often, but not often enough to keep them perishable in the fridge.
Celery, for example, is not eaten in our home, unless it’s being used for soups or one pot meals (like curry, daal or chili). So, I buy a bundle of celery, wash it, dice it and portion it into one cup Ziploc sandwich bags, which you can reuse, since it’s just celery. Then I toss it in the freezer for all those recipes that call for celery (which is nearly every hearty soup recipe).
The same goes for ginger. I wash a big, juicy piece of ginger and divide it into portions. I divide the ginger into chunks, I dice some and grate some. The diced and grated ginger gets put into portions and wrapped in plastic wrap. It all goes into a container and gets frozen. I found that fresh ginger was going bad after 1-2 weeks in the fridge. I could never use a whole chunk of ginger in that time frame, so I decided freezing was the best option.
At this point I’m using the store bought frozen pureed garlic and even some herbs (you can find cilantro, dill and parsley). I have fresh garlic on hand, but some days the last thing I want to do it peel and press garlic, so the frozen garlic keeps things simple. Every little bit helps!
3. The super foods: If I have these foods in my house, they get eaten: Quinoa, Millet, Barley, Chia Seeds, Hemp Hearts, Flax Meal. I make sure to always have them on hand. I make my own cereal topping (which is so simple it’s a crime) instead of shelling out for ridicolously overpriced “Crap”. You know, the typical mixture of Chia, Hemp, and Flax? I throw those in a mason jar, along with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and a little unsweetened coconut. I put this on all my cereals and granola for breakfast.
4. The pantry: Since I’m a vegetarian (99% of the time), I don’t ever buy meat. If Jay wants meat, he will buy it…but the only “meat” he seems to buy is the odd package of bacon here and there. He will almost always order a meat dish if he’s eating out, so he doesn’t feel the need to eat it at home. So, our pantry consists of beans and other proteins, like lentils, quinoa and other dried goods. One day I hope to use dried beans because they taste much better, and I’m sure I will, but at the moment, I use canned beans like: black, kidney, navy and chickpeas.
A well stocked pantry will save you from many headaches, and will make cooking enjoyable.
What lives behind closed doors. It may not look pretty, but it’s stocked & makes sense! Top shelf: grains, rice pastas. Second shelf: Organic vegetable stock, canned goods like beans, crushed tomatoes, coconut milk. Third shelf: Almond milk, crackers, sauces. Bottom shelf: Extras bought on sale like capers, nut butters, dried fruits.
Open pantry with vintage mason jars full of everyday foods like lentils, oats, nuts and seeds, grains, baking goods. And of course, my cookbooks!
My favourite part of the kitchen: the spices! Before I had Florence I had scoured thrift stores for little spice jars with cork lids. If cooking isn’t fun and pretty, then why bother? Well, that’s what I think anyway.
Although I love to cook, I’m not a gourmet chef. I like things simple, affordable, very healthy, and usually prefer 1-2 pot meals (like bean and lentil curry over barley with fresh chopped tomatoes or Jay’s favourite thing to make: toasted chickpeas, black beans, shredded carrots, tomatoes, and toasted nuts over a bed of arugula) and full of flavour. I like every dinner to contain a protein, fresh veggies, herbs and spices, and whole grains. It doesn’t always happen, but with what I have on hand at all times, it makes it much more simple to do so!