Let’s get started…

Sitting around the table last night a friend of our family’s J.VandenPlas and I were talking about what I can do.  I was venting to her about life in general and she shot back an idea to keep me occupied and get my “voice” and rants out into the world… blog.  I immediately laughed, hahaha, and thought what a ridiculous idea, me blog… no way.  She assured me it was easy and started pulling up blogs she reads on the computer, guiding me through different “voices” that were out there.  Voices about food, being a mom, dogs, etc… “See” she said… “you can do it!”  (Do any Adam Sandler movies come to mind when you here that line?)
Anyways… we started discussing ideas about what I could blog about.  Find a niche she kept telling me… the niche is what matters.  So I started thinking, what HASN’T been blogged about.  Being a mom, done… being a green mom, also done… cooking, done… as you can tell I was looking at this from a broad perspective… so today (April 20, 2012) I began to think more specifically.  What do I know… well lots.  What can I write about… well lots.  What do I LOVE?  Well I love my children, my husband… my family.  Ok what do I do for my family that others might benefit from?  Guide them towards a more sustainable lifestyle… feed them… play with them… eat with them… etc. 
Needless to say as I started thinking more specifically I began to think back to our reasons behind moving.  We wanted to give our children something different than cactus and dirt, a lot of what is found in Az (our and their home state).  So we moved to MI, somewhere a little greener and somewhere I had a MINOR familiarity with.  One thing we wanted our children to be able to do is grow things, grow food more specifically and eat that food.  Which we are working on now (we have recently planted veggies outside) however this is not a blog about our gardening, however I can’t promise that won’t sneak in from time to time… as you can see I don’t always stay on topic.
So teaching our children to eat with the seasons, teaching them how to cook, teaching them that food goes beyond lunchables and other processed ingredients… life, our sustenance begins with food, specifically food that can be grown.  Sure we eat meat, but doesn’t that meat eat something as well?  Don’t the cows and chickens eat fresh greens?  Well at least I hope your chickens, cows, goats, etc do.
Ok sidetrack here… this idea of eating fresh veggies didn’t start with the move though, it was implanted through college courses and required readings.  Specifically I was introduced to the idea of “homesteading” through a book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  She talked about growing your own food and eating with the season, gaining the most nutrition possible.  What a BRILLIANT idea… so the seed was planted.  This idea was solidified by further ideas proposed by David Own in The Green Metropolis.  I wasn’t going to place my family off the grid as much as Kingsolver did, nor was I going to move to Manhattan, but I was going to move us somewhere more green where we had the possibilities open to us for growing our own veggies and eatting from growers a county away, rather than 200miles away.
We had been going to the local market in Flagstaff, Az where we lived prior to MI, but it wasn’t sustaining us… we wanted more… we wanted to grow it ourselves.  Which we failed at in our own backyard  We were able to grow a few peas, and some sad broccoli… our lettuce hated us, as did our strawberries.  Seemed as though another state held the answer, or so we are hoping it does.  😉
So here we are in MI, Grand Rapids to be exact and we are going at it again.  Sure we are planting some of our own veggies… but who knows if that will work and who knows if it does if it can sustain a family of four.  So to keep ourselves fed I am going to depend on the local market.  I am going to attempt to plan a weeks worth of dinner meals with items found at our local market.  Items grown locally and picked, hopefully, at the height of it’s nutritional value.  I am going to depend on local farmers for feedback on what may or may not work with their produce and wing the rest of it.
Is this to say we won’t hit the local grocery chain?  No… but the main idea will be to cook and provide for my family meals that come from local growers.  Will it work?  Who knows… but it should be fun, and hopefully taste good.

So to continue on a little background… since we have moved we have attempted to get into the habit of pre-planning our meals.  We purchased a weekly calendar that hangs on our walls and allows us to write on it with white board markers… this is where the planning is visual. 

From here we make a list.  We attempt to buy all the items from a little family run grocery store down the road, Ken’s Fruit Market, and the items unavailable to us there we then get at a local Meijer store.  So you see… we have already started the foundation for this little experiment… we just need to put it into full swing and trade out Ken’s market for the farmer’s market, hit Ken’s as a second stop and Meijer as a third.  We are going to put more money into local farms… at least that is the idea.
We got the idea of pre-planning meals from a dear family friend S.Swank, who also did the same, not sure if she still does.  It was a genius idea that we wouldn’t stand there looking at each other each night asking, what’s for dinner.  We already knew what was for dinner and the cooking was shared.  Generally if you pick the meal, you cook the meal.  Doesn’t always work that way, but you know… life happens.  This pre-planning not only saved this waste of breathe conversation, but it also saved money.  We weren’t eating out as much and we weren’t wasting at the market buying stuff we weren’t ever going to eat.  Also it sometimes, depending on how good it tasted, left us leftovers.
So now that we were getting into the groove of planning meals we had to come up with new meals to try.  I couldn’t cook chili every night nor could I grill steaks all the time.  So we busted out the cook books and attempted new recipes.  This has been the best part of our move.  We have tried more new meals here than we have in the past 10+ years our family has been together.  WOW.  Now not all meals are great, and that is when they are given the “this is NOT a keeper” line at our house and we move on to something else.  There is also the flip side, wow mom “this is a keeper”… then the page is marked and we attempt to work it in again soon.
So now our foundation has three blocks… pre-planning, attempting to shop local/family owned first and being up to try new recipes.  Time to incorporate block four… the market.  Then blog about it.  

So where is this market and what is it’s foundation.  Well most cities have farmer’s markets and ours here in Grand Rapids that I’ll be shopping started back in 1922.  It is the Fulton Street Market.  We shopped at the market a bit this summer for fresh produce, but we didn’t base our meals on this produce, it was just extra sides, etc.  We were still eating more processed and basing our meals on items brought here across state lines, we still do that… but hopefully that will change.  Back to the market… so the market started in the 1920’s and has JUST received a face lift, a ~$2.6million face lift to be exact.  The market brings in all sorts of products: veggies, fruits, breads, cheeses, spices, meats, eggs, milk, even jewelry, art, etc.  Currently there is a winter market taking place a block or so away from the traditional site, it isn’t 100% done, however the full market springs back up May 5th and that is when our little experiment on cooking meals from the market will begin.  Up until then I will post on possible recipes, seasonal veggies/fruits we’ll try to work with and how the family takes to the news of this new adventure.  That’s right.  It is nearly 2pm and I haven’t really told anyone what we are going to be doing.  I am sure they’ll be on board.  Our 11yr old LOVES going to the market, enjoys eating food and enjoys gardening… so he’ll be on board.  My husband will be on board because he is just awesome like that, and the 16month old… well he’ll be on board because he really doesn’t have a choice… YET.  😉


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sherrie said,

    Wow I am impresed

  2. 2

    Aunt winnie said,

    Great Job,Kris. Good luck and keep us informed.

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