Today I canceled my hair appointment, ended my membership at the tanning salon, and painted my own toenails.
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this a food blog? What does this have to do with
food? I’ll get there, I promise.
I have always struggled with my conscience over my habits of consumption, and I don’t just mean food. However, as I look more closely at the food products I’m buying, I am forced to [re]consider all of the products and services that I am consuming. After all, looking at the whole picture and making changes to my entire lifestyle are two points
which separate my good intentions from the bored suburban middle class white woman jumping on an organic health trend phenomenon I’m trying so hard not to fall into. How can I desire to affect change in sustainable eating if I’m buying right into the consumer habits that have created the problem in the first place?
Let me make that make sense: I am baking bread and canning vegetables for the winter because I am standing firmly against the “convenience” propaganda that has led us to believe that these items should be store-bought. I am refusing to spend money on the lies I have been fed (pun not intended). I have lost count of the number of times that I have been shocked to find that making my own isn’t as difficult as I have always been made to believe. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard about how difficult it is to make bread, or how long it takes to make pasta. I do these things every week now, and I’m here to tell you that it can be done by even the busiest of people.
So how can I fail to question the other things I spend money on? I took a look at three months of bank statements, and I was shocked to add up my…ahem…personal grooming expenditures. And as painfully embarrassing as it is, I am going to share them with you. I spend $150 on my hair every 5 or 6 weeks. Alternating manicures and pedicures every week add up to about $100 a month. Shameful. Tanning membership, $55 a month—and I haven’t even used it in a month or two. Deep-tissue massages every two weeks, $80 a month. The one expense I am going to withhold here is my total sum of Starbucks purchases—it’s seriously just too embarrassing. And honestly, I’m not ready to think about my clothing/accessory purchasing habits. I have to take this one step at a time, but believe me when I say that it’s going to get painful.
I don’t have the answers yet. I suspect that this will always be a work in progress, but consciousness is always the first step. However, it can’t be the only step—action has to follow. I’m curious to know how I will respond to the challenges that keep coming to mind. It’s probably not realistic to think that I will never have my hair cut again. I also have to recognize that massage therapy is a necessary part of my training. And I’m Asian…I’ll be pale yellow in the middle of January and who knows how I’ll feel about tanning when I look like I have jaundice? Can I realistically escape meetings at Starbucks?
And then there is also the fact that I have a child who is being sucked into brand consumerism at the ripe old age of SIX. As a parent, I have always tried to be honest with my daughter. This has meant trying to find ways to break down my beliefs into kid-friendly language. In my household, it is understood that there are just some products that I refuse to purchase for one reason or another, and sometimes this
warrants an explanation to my daughter, who doesn’t understand why, for instance, I won’t buy anything with Tinkerbell on it. I’ll share with you with my explanation, especially in case you’re still wondering why any of this is important: when we spend money, it’s like voting. We vote for the candidate whose beliefs most closely reflect our own. We vote for the candidate who we feel best represents our interests. And to varying degrees, our votes are limited. Companies measure the success of their products by the amount of money they make, which means that every time we spend a
dollar we are effectively casting a vote for a product or service. Do I want to cast a vote for a product that sends my daughter bad messages, or could I save that vote for a better product? And, should I cast a vote impulsively, or do I owe it to myself and others to give serious thought before making a choice?
I wonder if this is where I will lose many of you. This is pretty intense stuff. I know that most people reading my blog probably skim through the blahblahblah of my thoughts and scroll to the recipes (which, I recognize, are pretty sub-par and entirely
experimental). For everyone else, food is a pretty comfortable topic. My blog doesn’t make you question your eating habits—you are probably reading my blog because you already question them and are looking for ideas. But this—this is new. I am asking you to question everything you spend your money on. I’m not being judgmental or condescending—as you can see, I don’t have it figured out. Maybe some of you are even further along than this and can help me out. I’m in the questioning and
now-what-the-hell-do-I-do-about-it phase. I will probably get a haircut in my near future. I may find myself, however reluctantly, at a Starbucks near you. I may never give up my Banana Republic addiction. And really, I am going to continue to buy stuff that I don’t need and could probably live without. But I’m thinking about it and making a serious effort to change some habits—and this is more than I did last month. I’ll keep you updated as I figure it out. Will you join me?
For those skip-to-the-recipe-readers out there, I’ll share with you three meals I made from one batch of homemade pasta. This time I used a different pasta recipe than last time, and I liked it a lot more. It was more difficult to work with in the beginning, but it made the leftovers better.
3.5 cups of flour
4 large eggs
1/2 c water on hand for kneading
Make a big pile of flour on a clean countertop or cutting surface. Make a hole in the flour (like a volcano, according to my daughter) and put the eggs into the hole. With a fork, scramble the eggs and incorporate the flour, starting with the edges of the hole and drawing more flour in until all of the flour is integrated. If the dough is too dry (you’ll know because it won’t hold together) add drops of water and knead, over and over, until you can form a ball with the dough. Once you have a ball, lightly flour the surface and knead the hell out of the dough. That’s right, a very technical term that you can’t mess up–knead the hell out of it. Re-form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel, and let rest for 20 minutes; don’t skip this step! After dough has rested, pull a portion that is bigger than a golf-ball but smaller than a baseball. Roll, add flour, and flip–do this over and over until the dough is paper thin. At this point, fold the dough in half long-ways and roll losely; cut into half-inch thick spirals. Or, use a pasta roller and cutter! Once all the dough is cut, place into boiling water and boil for about two minutes. It’s important to let the water return to a boil before you start the cooking timer.
Meal 1: Serve with tomato sauce
My version of a quick and super easy tomato sauce recipe:
Red bell pepper
Garlic (I use several cloves)
Red wine (I usually just pour in about a half cup of whatever I happen to be drinking…)
Put all vegetables in food processor with olive oil; chop until it becomes a paste. Add to pan with red wine, bring to a boil and then simmer. The longer you cook it the better it will taste.
Meal 2: Repurpose the tomato sauce:
The above recipe ALWAYS tastes better the next day. Add a little bit of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon and reheat. Serve with leftover pasta.
Meal 3: Garlic pasta w/grilled summer squash
Cut squash into long strips; coat lightly with olive oil and toss in sea salt and fresh black pepper. Cook on grill, turning occasionally, for just a few minutes.
While squash cooks, reheat pasta in microwave.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add two cloves of minced garlic; sautee for about a minute. Add chopped bell pepper, onion (I have to use powder since Mike hates onions), and pretty much whatever veggies you have laying around.
Toss pasta in garlic/onion/pepper mix and top with grilled squash.