by Lesia D. Kohut
When we were given “renewal” as our March theme for the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market Blog, I’ll admit I was stumped – for weeks. Partly because I take my assignments very literally, and partly because a more appropriate word to describe my life right now would be “upheaval”.
After several days, then weeks I decided to let it go, thinking that at some point over the course of the following month all the “upheaval” in my life would somehow enlighten me to the “renewal” of something food related that was also in my life – again.
One day, while making dinner for my family, much to my surprise and delight, the “renewal” was revealed.
First, some perspective on my life over the past few years. For those of you who don’t know, I am the owner and pastry chef of an organic, sustainably minded pastry business – LPK’s Culinary Groove. During the course of LPK’s 14 year run so far, I have done tonnes of baking, and then while we had our shop on Queen Street East a lot of cooking as well. But it was always for clients, not for my family or me. By the time I got home after working 14-24 hours per day, 7 days a week, the last thing I wanted to do was cook or bake. So, for the past several years, I had very little to do with the grocery shopping or cooking at home. I ate on the run constantly, and shared very few meals with my family (most of those we did share were take-out, and usually after something work related). I ate at the oddest times of the day, and consumed way too much sugar. For someone who produced and promoted food with so much integrity, my own relationship with food was incredibly pathetic and neglected at best.
In December of 2012, with much sadness and frustration, I had to close the shop, and at the end of January of this year, we moved out. The experience was incredibly difficult, challenging, and “upheaval” doesn’t even begin to describe what my family had to endure because of LPK’s, and because of shutting down the retail store. As a result, we also had to put our house up for sale, get it ready for showing (that meant tonnes of hurried packing and getting rid of stuff), and then be kicked out every day over the course of a week so that agents and potential buyers could come in throughout the day. Mylana was also on March break during this period, so our Mama and Mylana time was spent mostly on the road.
One would think that with all of this volatility we may have ended up ordering out even more, and there would’ve been even less cooking than was already happening. But no. Because of these trying times, I was forced to cook, write grocery lists, and to actually do the grocery shopping. I became more aware of what and how much we were eating as a family, and quickly realized how I could help improve my entire family’s relationship with food. Through all of the mayhem, I had renewed my personal relationship with food!
Incidentally, while all of the above was going on, I was also reading Michael Pollan’s very entertaining Food Rules – a book of 64 suggestions on how to eat more healthfully and to be more aware of how and what you eat. There were many rules that resonated with me, with some of my favourites being:
- “…#17 – Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans.
- #19 – If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- #39 – Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
- #51 – Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.
- #58 – Do all your eating at a table.
- #60 – Treat treats as treats….”
So, over the past several weeks, I have filled our freezer, fridge and pantry with loads of fresh vegetable and fruit, and have prepared from scratch stocks, soups, sauces, chili, cooked beans, refried beans, pizza and bread, along with some homemade treats including cookies, ice cream and frozen lollies. As soon as berries, tree fruit, and eventually tomatoes return to the local, organic farmers’ markets (if you haven’t been to Withrow Park Farmers’ Market on Saturdays yet, what are you waiting for…?) I’ll be pulling out my mason jars and canning accoutrements to make homemade jams, preserves and stewed tomatoes to enjoy through the fall and winter months.
With all this recent cooking and baking for my family, I have realized I still prefer baking to cooking. Regardless, I really love knowing what goes into the food I make and ultimately eat. Now, I enjoy grocery shopping, I eat regularly and snack less, my family eats dinner together almost every night, I sleep more so don’t end up eating at 3:00 in the “am”, and I consume way less sugar.
I’m also very proud to say in the past 6 weeks, we haven’t ordered or eaten out once (although it’s been tempting several times). So, in addition to all of the renewed food related joys listed above, my rekindled personal relationship with food has also helped us cut our grocery spending in half!
At some point soon LPK’s will be up and running again, which means baking and cooking for clients again. For now though, I am very thankful that food and I have renewed our personal relationship, and for all the positive experiences my family and I are enjoying as a result of that connection.
Hello Food, it’s Lesia – I’m back! 🙂