Thursday, June 16, 2011

Creating a Recipe Notebook

      When I married I thought I was somewhat knowledgable and skilled in the kitchen. It wasn't long before I discovered that that confidence was founded in the fact that only I had to eat what I created. Meal preparation growing up frequently involved opening frozen packages and some cans. Meals had to fit into the description of quick, convienent and cheap. My new husband, on the other hand, was used to more country living of hefty meats, fresh vegetables and lots of homemade items. Needless to say, I was completely lost and stressed as to how to provide for us in the home in regard to meals. He has actually been the one teaching me in the kitchen! My desire is to continuously grow in my abilities in the home and build a foundation or collection from which I can teach my (future) children.

     I began with creating a recipe book. I used a standard three ring binder, sheet protectors and tabs to create mine. You can do it with tabbed dividers and no sheet protectors, but you have to be more cautious of getting the pages messy which is hard to do in a kitchen. I following images are of a book I put together based on my needs:
     I used about 20 tabs for the sections. They include: Planning, Shopping, Recipes to Try, Homemade, Hospitality Meals, Appetizers/ Snacks, Beef, Beverages, Breakfast, Breads, Desserts, Fish/Seafood, Meatless, Pork, Poultry, Salads, Sides, Soups.

 The first section houses all my meal planning sheets. I love using these! You can find them for free at the Organized Home website. I keep all my previous sheets because I can use them again this time next year as a guide. Make meal planning simple on yourself!

       The next section is for shopping. If I have any coupons or know of any good sales then I record them here. I also like to keep food or nutrition information I find in this section as well. I like to have the fact sheets on foods or ingredients just to expand my own knowledge base of what I'm consuming. As you can see, I keep a list of organic vs. conventional produce. We can't buy organic exclusively, so here is my list of produce that is acceptable to buy conventionally and those that would be best organic.

   The third section is for that messy stack of recipes I've collected but have yet to actually make. I prefer to try to do a new recipe a week and keeping them organized in the binder helps me see what's up next. Again, if it's good then it gets typed, photographed and placed in the book for repeated meals. This sheet is also found at the Organized Home website (link above).

   Finally, I have the recipes themselves. I try to include what sides I served with a dish when I type it out. Again, make meal planning and preparation a simple and joyful activity. When I need the recipe, I can just snap it out of the binder and carry it to the kitchen with me without the need to tote a clumsy binder along. If something spills, then just wipe the cover clean. Once used, I return the page to the back of the section so that when I meal plan I can select the one on top without fears of having just eaten it last week.

    Providing budget-friendly, nutritionally sound, and tasty meals doesn't have to be a streasful activity. It sould be joyful as an element of service within the home. Adequate organization and planning are so important. As I grow in areas of homemaking I desire to share what I've learned with others now (and hopefully daughters in the future). I recently recreated my book for a relative soon to wed. When I thought of what would've been most needed when I married I quickly landed on one thing- guidance! So, made a starter book for her and then sewed some napkins and an apron. It's not a flashy gift from a store registry, but perhaps the gift of restoring the home and family is by far more valuable.

Just my simple little ideas that I hope will serve as encouragment :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guilt for Homemaking?

     My husband returns from another long day and I can see on his face the exhaustion and stress from the work take it's toll.  His eyes crease and darken a little more than before. His words fall silent and his attention drifts as he begins the process of trying to cope and transition from work to home. My heart aches to ease his burden.
     I should be sharing that burden, shouldn't I? I begin to examine my contribution in providing for us. I cry out to him with the repeated lies I had been taught to believe. In my heart I knew them to be false, but here I sit toying with them nonetheless. "I must work and bring home a paycheck as well." I have been taught the societal demand for the role of the provider and duty of work falling to both spouses. My examples have been for the household to consist of two paychecks going into two seperate accounts to cover two indepent sets of expenses. Under this assumption I am, indeed, guilty for not pulling my weight or dumping on my husband to provide exclusively.
       I revisit the passage in Genesis following the fall where God divides the consequence between male and female. Genesis 3:17-19 says:
           And to the man he said, "Since you listened to your wife and ate from the
           tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because
           of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow
           thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat
           of your brow you will have food to eat until you return ot the ground from
           which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will
To the woman he says, "I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you" (Genesis 3:16). The divison appears rather clear. The labor of work or the labor of childbearing is painful and strenuous, but it is a consequence of the fall. Even as such, they can serve to sanctify us if we will allow ourselves to praise Him during the good times and bad times in life. Rereading this passage as it applies to the weight of work lifts the pity out of the situation, and instead allows me to consider the potential for wholeheartedly serving Him. God is good.
     David gently brings me back to this understanding as he assures me he willingly accepts his duty as my husband to work and provide for his family. With patient words he rebukes and clarifies the falsities which attempt to cloud the truth in my heart.  He assures me that my work within the home does ease his burdens by making things easier and more enjoyable for him. He doesn't have to come home or wake to an empty house, eat meals alone, or interact with me only on occasion. It's those little moments which serve to uplift the spirit and bless. We both fully understand and accept that that is far more valuable than a paycheck. I'm so grateful for God's gift of this man to me!
     The demand for each spouse to offer a paycheck as means of contribution is to deny value of the home or family. Provision extends far beyond financial means. It also involves providing a loving home and security in family. Homemaking as a means of providing for my home and family is not a guilt-ridden matter, but one I'm continuously learning and loving.
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