Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Up to Scratch

The other day, I was making a quick batch of macaroni and cheese for dinner after church.  It occurred to me as I stirred the cheese sauce that I can't remember my mother ever making mac and cheese from scratch.  Her version came from the bright blue box with the yellow lettering.

My mom was part of a generation that was sold a whole new way of life.  Married in the mid-sixties, she came of age during the biggest convenience push of the twentieth century.  Every magazine, television commercial and grocery store sung the praises of boxed meals, two-step cakes and pre-packaged foods.

Consequently my mother would have been more likely to walk naked down Broadway than to make a meal from scratch.  She used condensed soups, packets and mixes, bottled sauces and pre-made dressings.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not criticizing my mom.  She made amazing meals for her family with love and with the best information she had, and she was a product of her time.  I also think she reacted to her own mother's practices of canning, baking bread and cooking for an army by taking advantage of the convenience food.

When I got married and began to run my own kitchen, I was amazed to learn how easy it was to cook from real and natural ingredients.  It's been a gradual process, and I am constantly educating myself on even better ways to feed my family. 

My way of cooking is probably closer to that of my grandmothers than that of my mom's, and I think that's been passed onto my daughters as well.  As my oldest daughter said recently, the pendulum has swung again. And we really have the best of both worlds: we can choose natural whole foods and cook them using more efficient tools than our grandmothers had. (After all, I don't relish the idea of cooking over an open fire or on a coal stove!)

A brave new world, indeed!