In a discussion about creating home, I think it only right that we start by proverbially cleaning the kitchen!
It’s the lifeblood of the home, the place we gather, talk, teach, share and of course eat!
But sometimes thoughts of the kitchen may bring resentment. Angst. Pressure. Maybe even hostility! At times there may not be warm feelings or warm food waiting when someone asks, what’s for dinner!
So I’d like to ask you, how do you feel about your kitchen and the part of your role as a nurturer which includes providing consistent meals for your family? There’s a lot to this, right?
Anne Fishel, a family therapist is the executive director of the Family Dinner Project, where she helps millions of families make dinner a reality, because she says, simply having dinner together accomplishes so many of the positive things she tries to do in family therapy!
“There have been more than 20 years of dozens of studies that document that family dinners are great for the body, the physical health, the brain and academic performance, and the spirit or the mental health and in terms nutrition, cardiovascular health is better in teens, there’s lower fat and sugar and salt in home cooked meals even if you don’t try that hard, there’s more fruit, and fiber, and vegetables, and protein in home cooked meals, and lower calories. Kids who grow up having family dinners, when they’re on their own tend to eat more healthily and to have lower rates of obesity.”
“Then the mental health benefits are just incredible. Regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety, and substance abuse and eating disorders and tobacco use and early teenage pregnancy and higher rates of resilience and higher self esteem.” (Look for her book, Eat, Laugh, Talk, The Family Dinner Playbook, if you’d like to learn more! Or listen to an interview with Anne here.)
I have had a long journey myself, starting from square one as a young wife and mother, not knowing how to cook anything! Literally. Well, I had a lot of experience making toast and eggs which was my mainstay as a teenager.
But, along with my inexperience, I also had a big desire to learn, and gratefully was among friends from church who talked me through making common dishes, sharing recipes with me (pre-internet days you know) and allowing me to watch them and pepper them with questions about shopping and storing and preparing food!
So, fast-forward 30 years, when I started teaching a cooking class along with coaching at Lioness, I could easily speak to anyone who claimed ignorance or failure in this realm! If I can learn to cook and even enjoy it as a creative hobby, anyone can!
Adding to challenges of knowledge and experience and skill, you may also have the dilemma of who is in charge of the cooking and the planning and the shopping. (I know several young moms whose husbands love to cook and do most of it.) Back in the day, this was much simpler since our roles were more set than they sometimes are now. For this discussion, I’m going to write to you as if you are the one in charge of food, even though you may share this job with your spouse.
And to make things more complicated than I ever thought possible, we’re living in a cacophony of confusion about nutrition that could disable any mom doing her best to feed her family well! I believe it’s time to ditch YouTube and “researching” food and diets and just cook real food for our families. Unplug from the craziness and get on with life.
The fact is, feeding your family is one of the greatest acts of love and service you will ever render.
And your kitchen is likely where most of your loving and teaching occurs! (Partly because we don’t learn well on an empty stomach and partly because prepared food speaks volumes of care, and we listen to those who care for us!)
Over the years, I’ve filled this website with very simple recipes (I still don’t like over complication) in hopes of encouraging my readers to embrace and even learn to love the privilege of feeding their children and spouses. Take a peek and see if there is something new you’d like to try!
I have also written a great deal about the victim mindset abundant in our culture that can sometimes twist our perspective about being the adult in charge. The one who anticipates the needs of others and prepares to meet those needs before they arise!
How do you feel about cooking?
How would you like to feel about feeding your family?
Are you lacking skills that would make this task easier for you?
Do you regularly plan your meals to simplify your life and decrease daily decision fatigue?
Do you have jobs identified for everyone to pitch in and help with food prep and clean-up? (Even very small children can push in chairs, sweep or vacuum the kitchen, load dishes in a dishwasher or wipe the table! And how wonderful for them to learn these life-skills and feel needed while they are young and happy to help!)
If you have something you’d like to brainstorm, let me know! We have created tools to assist you. Here are a few thoughts I’ve had about things that have helped me:
1 Get a bread machine if you’re not currently baking bread! I got a beautiful stainless steel looking Cuisinart machine from a Deseret Industries store for $10 (and I’ve bought several others there). They are donated because they tend to gather dust, so the machines you see for sale are very nice!
I’m convinced that the reason they weren’t appreciated by the original owners is that the loaves you bake in those machines are less than desirable. BUT. The dough that those machines make is EXCELLENT! Using the dough cycle to make bread and rolls and pizza dough is so worth it! It makes prep time about 5 minutes and 1 1/2 hours later, you have bread dough that is perfection. Shape it into loaves and let it rise in a greased bread pan, bake it and you have a house smelling like heaven and I’ll bet, a delighted family!
2 If having a healthy appetite is a problem for you, exercise more regularly. (I know this sounds strange, but it’s pretty hard to muster up the energy to cook if you don’t have that driving anticipation of eating!) Or if you have emotional issues around eating, seek out support and help to heal your relationships with food.
3 If you can’t think of good things to make for your family, maybe your food experiences are too narrow. Branch out and taste new things! That is the time I am most excited to experiment with food, is after I’ve eaten something new and flavorful somewhere. For instance, this potato salad I created after eating at a German cafe and this flavorful salad I made after eating at Thai place and having my taste buds sing!
4 Plan more and worry less. Making a plan is simply making decisions before you are starving, hangry and dealing with what sounds like a howling pack of wolves when your kids are hungry and need to be fed. (Remember, they’re not out to get you, they’re not the enemy, they are rightly wired to get their needs met by whatever high pitched means it takes!
5 Recognize that the love and care you give your family with your efforts to plan, shop, cook and serve a nutritious diet, are also the love and care you are giving yourself. Many of us crave and still need the love and care of a mother and sometimes that hunger makes caring for others more challenging. But growing into the ability to nurture yourself is a process that needs to happen if it hasn’t already. Work on it. Pray for it and let the transformation come. I believe it’s part of healing and ultimately, part of the growing up our relationships call us to do.
As you’re working to create the home you want for your family, I challenge you to rethink the opportunity to delight your family with good food and the anticipation of good times around the kitchen table.
Ready for something new to try? Here is my experimentation from two weeks ago. We ate quite a bit of this cake and then I cut the last few pieces into cubes and put them in the freezer to be served with pudding later! Mmm!
Easy Pound Cake
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup honey
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsps baking powder
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Cream butter, then add the honey gradually while beating until you have a creamy mixture.
- Add 4 eggs one at a time, beating after each one.
- Sift the dry ingredients together.
- Mix sour cream and vanilla together.
- Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream mixture into the butter & honey mixture.
- Bake in a large greased loaf pan (I grease mine with coconut oil) at 350° for 1 hour.
Be well my friend!
P.S. We are gearing up to start the Lioness Lifestyle program in January!
~ a topic of focus each month, with four assignments
~ one monthly group coaching session
~ a beautiful family tradition tracker page for each month (for downloading).
All for $12/month!
The principles we cover throughout the year are from 7 Steps and HWL. Please consider this as a Christmas gift to yourself, and share the love with your family and friends using the link below!
This recipe sounds right up my alley…quick and easy with simple ingredients that I allready have at home. I did notice however, that the recipe does not list how many eggs?
Oh, thank you Natalie for pointing this out to me! I can’t seem to get the 4 eggs to stick in the ingredient list! So, I put it other places and hopefully that will help!