The Internet Is Teaching Me to Cook…

21 Jun

I tackled pickle relish for the first time last summer. It turned out tasty but watery…is that how our ancestors ate it??

I probably spend more time in the kitchen than the average 21st century woman. And I spend much of that time in ignorance…as a 21st century woman. I’m working on correcting that.

You see, part of our farmhouse rehab goal is the farm, and getting to the point where we are growing much of our own food. When you’re growing and making your own food–rather than running to the grocery store–you have to know how to cut up a whole chicken, make stock, sour cream, can tomatoes, brine pickles and all kinds of other things I didn’t grow up learning how to do.

As we work to rebuild the house, I am also taking a self taught course in kitchen basics, so I’ll be ready when the farm is real.

I have to teach them to myself because I didn’t learn these skills growing up, and I’m guessing you didn’t either. Isn’t it strange to think that for centuries, people knew how to raise and prepare their own food and now we know nothing? We lost a lot of knowledge in a very short span of time, comparatively speaking!

Thank God for the Internet. The wonderful resource that is the web has taught me everything so far, all of the long-forgotten skills of past generations. No, I didn’t learn at my grandmother’s side, but I can learn from experts just the same as a grownup, right?

I’m not learning sophisticated cooking techniques, mind you. This is not any kind of gourmet gone DIY. This is kitchen basics 101, and it’s essential to our plans.

I’m telling you this for two reasons:

  • To give you a context for posts I write about food: I’ve been asked more than once to write about what I’m doing and learning in the kitchen. I want to be clear that any writing about kitchen lessons will be far from gourmet. They’ll be quite the opposite. And they will quite often be stories of trial and error!
  • To encourage you to learn some of these long-forgotten skills yourself: If–heaven forbid–something should go horribly awry in our world, will you be able to feed your family? Maybe mastering a few cooking basics of our ancestors can provide some insurance against just such a scenario. I’m not saying go renovate a 130-year-old house like we’re doing. Just know what to do and how to do it. Just in case. :-)

That said, time to get back to it myself!

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7 Responses to “The Internet Is Teaching Me to Cook…”

  1. Mavis Speaks June 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Sharon – I love this and love your goal. Since I did grow up farming every summer…and eating the results all winter…I’ve done a lot of what you’re experiencing. From a 1/2 acre garden to 50 fryers…I’ve canned beans, made pickles, plucked chickens, cored apples and so much more. I’m thinking an afternoon with my Mom is in order. She knows TONS about some of the things you’re learning….she can pass on her wisdom to you! Plus…it would be a great visit! :-)

    • sharondlong June 22, 2012 at 2:24 am #

      Mave, that’s a wonderful idea! I could even make up a list of the things I haven’t figured out yet, so I am all set to pepper her with questions. Yes, that would be a fabulous visit! Let’s do it!

      • Mavis Speaks June 30, 2012 at 6:14 am #

        I’ll talk with Mom about a plan…maybe we can drive down one weekday early…spend some time and then drive back. I’ll follow up via phone!

  2. Mona June 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi Sharon. My Mom taught me a lot, but not enough. My one Aunt canned. Wonderful peaches and pears!!! My Mom also did some canning as did her mom. They used to make the most wonderful potato sausage. Yes, we’re Polish. Great foods came out of our house growing up. Wish I would have learned more. I’m also learning that the Mormons do a lot of canning and saving food. Just in case!
    More power to you!!
    Love, Mona

    • sharondlong June 22, 2012 at 2:23 am #

      Thank you, Mona! I am so grateful I had a mother-in-law to teach me the basics of canning way back when. At least I have that going for me. :-) Now, cutting up a whole chicken, that was something completely new, LOL!

      • joytuck November 14, 2012 at 5:22 am #

        Sharon is this a sweet relish you made? It looks nice. I usually slice my ingredients much finer. Of course, now with my diabetes diagnosis, sweet relish isn’t something I make regularly…

        Your daughter, being present while you’re preparing and preserving, is going to learn so much from you.. :)

      • sharondlong November 14, 2012 at 7:15 am #

        It was a “sweet” relish in name only. :-) Although it had sugar, it was much more tart than I expected or was to eating storebought all those years. But eating our way through seven pints of it over the year, I got used to the tart and now prefer it. I used a recipe from pickyourown.org. It was also runnier than storebought but now I’m used to that too. :-) My daughter is beginning to express just a wee bit more interest. She made a point of watching while I kneaded bread yesterday at least!

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