Sunday, June 7, 2009

A simpler life

I confess that deep down, there is a part of me that wishes I could have lived during the pioneer times. I know that it was a hard life, and I probably have no idea how hard, but there is something about the simplicity of it all that intrigues me. Please understand that by simplicity, I do not mean easier, I just mean an attempt to go back to basics. Today we live in a world that is obsessed with convenience. Don't get me wrong, convenience is sometimes a wonderful thing and I know I would not have survived my pregnancy without it. But, I believe that there are basic skills that are being lost as generations pass. For instance, this spring I was attempting to do a spring cleaning in my home and I realized that I had no idea how to wash the walls. I know, you may be thinking, wow, this girl doesn't know anything. And that is the point. I didn't know if I should use soap or another cleaner, or nothing at all, yet this is something that everyone knew how to do and did not too long ago.

And what about cutting up a whole chicken? I have always bought the cellophane wrapped Styrofoam hugging pre-cut pieces of chicken. Again, nothing wrong with this, but if I had to, could I process a chicken?

Well, now I can. Last Sunday I was awake at 5 am due to my allergies. So I decided to take advantage of the early morning quiet and dissect a chicken. I used my Joy of Cooking as a guide and just went at it. Here are the results:

Besides all of this delicious chicken, which I got for $3.50, I used the leftover parts and pieces and boiled them to make a stock, which turned into this:

Yep, it tasted as good as it looks. By using what ever I could find in the fridge and pantry I was able to make enough soup to feed my family for two lunches.

So, for a $3.50 chicken I got the following

1 chicken dinner
Leftover chicken for husbands lunch next day
2 tenderloins put in freezer for future use
4 adult and 2 child servings of soup.
One very satisfied mommy

*small edit* Thanks to Tom for answering all my questions about chickens and soup!!

That same meal, we had a salad made of lettuce entirely from our garden.

Planting a garden was also on my list of back to basics. There is something deeply satisfying in eating something you have grown and harvested on your own. When I first started making my garden plans, I was a little daunted by the idea, but then I read the book "Square Foot Gardening" and I soon realized that gardening didn't have to be difficult, or take up a lot of space. Here is my garden (this picture was taken 4 weeks ago, its much greener now)

It is 4 feet by 6 feet. Currently I have
12 cucumber plants
24 pea plants
8 tomato plants
4 basil
24 radish
lots of carrot
12 lettuce
And I still have 5 square feet left! And really it wasn't hard. Many vegetables can be grown in large pots on your porch even.

Next on my back to basics list:
Baking bread from scratch
Find a good and healthy blueberry muffin recipe
Sew Esther one of these skirts

What would be on your back to Basics list?


  1. Way to go Jennifer! I am so proud of you! I too want a more simpler life, even if it brings more work - there is more to gain!

    Here is my list:

    1.Make a new sourdough and get back in the habit of baking my own bread again.
    2. Start grinding wheat again (I have gotten so lazy)
    3. Stop buying processed cereals and find more creative granola recipes
    4. Make myself a tunic style jumper that I can wear around the house
    5. the list could go on an on

    Truth be known, I had so many aspirations when I changed my blog title and have been struggling with why I am struggling with it (and why I keep changing it back and forth!) and came to find out that I set my expectations to high and tried to do it all too quickly and felt like giving up. So, give yourself time. . . you are off to a good start!

  2. This looks very yummy. I am very motivated to try my hand at gardening next year. I have never tried it before, so I am a little intimidated, but looking at yours I have more hope.
    I would also like to bake cookies from scratch. A few times I attempted cookies, I always used premade dough.

  3. I think we have A LOT in common...a simple life...I often think of how lovely it would be to just live life back in the 17/1800's! Books help me to fantasize...and realize I need an epidural and feminine products of my choosing! :)

    I also have my first garden...25 corn, 5 green beans, 12 carrots, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Pathetic compared to my Amish neighbors!

    I am trying to cook/bake more. I have no desire to pluck a chicken, but I can roast a whole one.

    Do you sew or craft? I've been trying to sew a bit. Learn as you go. I'm planning a homemade Christmas mostly.

    AND My daughter, Meghan is 2 1/2 and I have a baby son, too. Evan is 7 months. :) I saw your post at Christy's blog...and your daughter's age...and had to come say hi. :)