My allergy sent me on a life journey to avoid preservatives. I have had this serious allergy for 40 years. As the use of preservatives spread, I have had to become more and more diligent over the years. Attila and I have been together for 30 of those years, and together we have evolved into a household that makes almost everything from scratch, from fresh, preservative free, ingredients. Other dietary restrictions have been added to complicate putting a healthy meal on the table, such as strict sodium and cholesterol restrictions.
This journey hasn’t always been easy. We went through periods of time when preservative free ingredients were difficult to access. When we lived at the country house I opened my own business, to purchase bulk foods, that were shipped to us, servicing only one customer, myself. When we moved to Mist Cottage we found access to bulk ingredients a three hour drive from home, which we travelled once a year to buy our supplies. This past year we ordered our supplies online, from a Manitoba distributor, which was far more expensive than travelling three hours to make our purchases, but it was convenient.
Another aspect of the journey has been the sodium and cholesterol restrictions. This almost totally eliminates pre-cooked foods from our grocery cart, even if they don’t contain preservatives. It is shocking how much sodium, cholesterol, and/or sugar is loaded into pre-cooked foods, not to mention chemicals.
Ingredients are not meals. Many of our ingredients are processed here at home. We buy wheat berries and I mill all of our flour. We buy produce and I can it. The garden produce is either dehydrated, canned, or frozen. We are busy all the time, processing our ingredients, and then cooking or baking with our ingredients.
Living this way is labour intensive, and extremely time consuming. There are no quick meals with fast food restaurants, no take-out, no pre-cooked meals from the grocery, store such as frozen pizza. With rare exceptions, we conjure up what we eat from raw ingredients.
For instance, Attila wants to make a green salad for dinner this evening.
We found a good price for romaine lettuce during a shopping excursion to Costco, which is an hour away. We were in that area for my follow up visit for PVD with ophthalmologist, where I received good news that there has been no further damage in my one eye, and the other unaffected eye is looking healthy. Since we were in the city anyway, we went to Costco, which is always a pricey affair. The lettuce was a luxury item for us, as it is not in season here in Ontario.
Green salad calls for salad dressing. This is made from scratch. I am using the liquid from a 500 ml jar of Cowboy Candy to make my salad dressing. To this I add canola and olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dried onions and garlic (store bought), blackstrap molasses (store bought), and dried herbs from our garden. At the moment I am letting the liquid drain into a 1 litre mason jar, in which I will make the salad dressing. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but when I have three or four items to prepare in anticipation of a meal, the time commitments add up quickly.
Our diet has great variety. We make soups, casseroles, sometimes serve fish or meat with a vegetable side. We enjoy our pasta with homemade pesto. Sausage patty burgers are a favourite, served with our home canned coleslaw. This list goes on. We also enjoy trying new dishes, and finding interesting ways to prepare our basic ingredients. I have four binders of recipes that are frequently used.
All this to say that food takes up almost all of our time, in one way or another. When we both worked full time it was exhausting. With me retired and at home we no longer have to push ourselves hard, to get food on the table. My educational background in human food and nutrition (Toronto Metropolitan University, formerly Ryerson University) has served me well, navigating my own food restrictions, and the evolving food supply industry.
We both love the way we live, both take a keen interest in growing, preserving, preparing, and eating homemade meals. I cannot imagine a pleasanter way to spend time!
Updated on Tue, Nov 28 at 11:35 AM
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“Peace is when time doesn’t matter as it passes by.”
1926 – 2005