“We stay up late, reading, unveiling mysteries, well into the night.”
~Jane Kirkpatrick, Homestead~
There’s a quote in the book Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins that has stayed with me and comes to mind often. “Josef Pieper tells us that leisure is the basis of culture. Most moms would laugh at the idea of leisure, but that is essentially the gift homeschooling gave us–the leisure to learn. Homeschooling moms are what remains of the leisured classes in these hurried, frantic days. We are the Irish monks of our time, carefully preserving old library books (and even reading them). In that way it is silly for us to measure our success by the immediate results–our son’s SAT scores or whether our daughter got into Harvard. While we were busy thinking of our small families, we just might have been preserving something much larger (p. 163).”
Leisure: 1) freedom provided by the cessation of activities
I want to experiment more with baking from sourdough starter. I have made one loaf so far, as well as a batch of muffins, and a plate of pancakes. I remembered to bring the starter along on our travels so I could keep it watched and fed, however, it tipped over in the car, spilling into the cover cloth and making quite the mess. It has sat untouched since we returned from our trip and I imagine I will need to start over with the starter. In the meantime, I have been searching online, looking for a place to buy hard red wheat. I am leaning toward purchasing the 35 lb bucket to start with.
2) Medicinal Herbs
An herbalist podcast suggested the best way to begin learning about herbs is to take one year and study and get-to-know one herb per month. This month I have chosen Rosemary. Rosemary originated on Mediterranean shores, and has an evergreen, pine-like smell and appearance. Known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Rosemary is said to be a mental stimulant and terrific for brain health and memory. I’ve been experimenting with various fresh herbs from the store such as cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint, and rosemary, making a tea or infusion by adding it to hot water warmed on the stove. I think Rosemary tea is best consumed in the morning. The two times I drank Rosemary tea before bed, I had vivid dreams throughout the night and found myself awake in the middle of the night unable to sleep. It has a bitter taste, and I experienced a vague nausea after drinking more than one cup. One time I forgot about the water on the stove and came back to find the water boiling, and also that the rosemary had released a lavendar-colored foam from its stems. In addition to using it in the sourdough bread, which was delicious, I have mostly used it to season cubed potatoes that I cook on the stove and have regularly served for lunch during the winter.
3) Plant-based cooking
Meals feel overwhelming when every night you feel you must live up to this restaurant standard of a huge meal complete with several sides and dessert. I’ve always seen it as a confirmation that my husband and I were meant to be together by the fact that although he enjoys a large meat and potatoes type of meal, he doesn’t require it from me. He eats the things I make and experiment with and is supportive through my “phases”. I do still, however, see food as a vital part of my “job” as a woman and homemaker. More and more, I enjoy preparing meals, setting tables, and getting pleasure in seeing meals enjoyed and hungers satisfied. I’ve been using meats as more of accents in the meals, instead of main courses, for example, mixing Aldi chicken sausage in with the potatoes to satisfy the heartier appetites in my house, getting bigger by the day. On nights like tonight when I have a beef roast in the crockpot, I think my family looks forward to the coming meal as the smells of meat and basil fill the house. It feels to me like I’m spoiling them with something special, and to them, like a treat that doesn’t happen everyday.