How to love waste free cooking, by Christine

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on September 30, 2009 12 Comments
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Christine teaches us how to fall in love with waste free cooking

Christine teaches us how to fall in love with waste free cooking

Our third guest article this week is from Christine who writes her “Simple Savvy” blog. Christine shares idea for organising your life and going green and weaves them together to show you the art of simplifying.

Today Christine shares her thoughts on how to turn cooking from a chore into a delight.

If we can grasp the idea of cooking being a creative, pleasurable, sensual process instead of just another job that needs doing, we are more likely to create fresh, delicious and waste free food!
Cooking is one of those things that people either love or hate.  Throw in the idea of cooking waste free, and it’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed by feeding themselves and their family.  Waste-free cooking involves buying raw or basic ingredients, and then assembling everything at home.  You’re creating something new, something from scratch.  No more convenience foods, no more pre-packaged TV dinners, and definitely no more individually-wrapped Twinkies.

Whenever I get frustrated by standing in the kitchen again, surveying the mountains of peppers, tomatoes and onions again, and wishing they would cook themselves into dinner, I remember that there are ways to make cooking a more enjoyable experience.

1.  Pick accessories that make you smile.  I have a faded red apron, a cutting board with rubber on the corners so it doesn’t slide, a handpainted butter dish, a favorite knife.  None of these items were expensive, but every time I see them, I give a slow, secret smile.  Then I say a little word of thanks for their beauty, and get chopping.  If your kitchen doesn’t make you happy, you won’t want to spend time there and cooking will become a chore.  Make it make you happy.

2.  Use delicious ingredients. Pick fruits and vegetables that smell good or look pretty.  The sensation that comes from slicing a ripe summer tomato is one of my kitchen’s greatest joys: that taut feel of the tomato skin under the knife, and that burst as the knife slides through the meaty insides.  The kitchen smells like growing things and sunshine as I transfer the gloppy slices to a bowl, then wipe my hands on the rough canvas of my apron.

3.  Cook with someone you love.  When I visit my mother, we spend most of our time in the kitchen.  Sometimes she cooks and I watch, sometimes we cook together, and sometimes we stand over the sink and eat good cheese, talking about the day’s exploits and the food we should be making but aren’t.  Then we can comment on each other’s knife skills (minimal), who cries more over onions (my mother), and our future cooking plans (making soft cheeses — yum!).  Even a phone call is enough; I feel less isolated, less like the only person in the world who cooks from scratch.

4.  Slow down.  I used to resent the time it took to make dinner.  It was at least one hour until I could eat something substantial, and I would be grumpy the whole time.  Then I would rush, get frustrated that my glasses fogged up, burn my hand on the stove burner, and have to take time to run it under cold water when I could be cooking, cooking.  You don’t have to rush.  Have a snack to take the edge off; you’ll be hungry in an hour.  Take the time to chop an onion correctly.  Learn the easy way to peel garlic.  Dribble the pasta through your fingers into the water instead of dumping it in.  These little tactile explorations become a delight instead of something else to get through before you can eat.

5.  Keep inspiration close at hand.  I don’t care if you’re inspired by Julia Child or World of Warcraft; I want it in your kitchen.  My cookbooks live nearby, including the two oversized volumes I keep just to ogle the photography.  A picture of a much younger Memere and me at her kitchen sink keeps watch over my kitchen sink.  A handpainted charger of an angry dwarf glares down at me from over the stove, and not two feet away is a set of antique teacups.  Nothing matches.  I don’t care.  These things keep me going, get me thinking every day.

When I cook, I focus on the food and on how it makes me feel.  Cooking keeps me present.  Without an exploration into waste-free and reduced-waste living, I never would have gotten here.  Here’s hoping that some of my food love rubs off on you!


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Sarah says:

    Fabulous, and all good advice.
    Thanks Christine.

  2. John Costigane says:

    Hi Christine,

    The great thing about the Zero Waste trend, and all its related matters, is that its scope spreads across the world. Problems are common to most countries and solutions are easily transferable especially between ourselves and North America.

    Home cooking/baking is an art for the some, who are good examples for us all to follow. The basics can be learned by anyone. After that, you can experiment to find your favourite dishes. Among many discoveries this year, old style cuts of meat/offal have become a choice again.

  3. Sarah — Thanks for reading!

    John — I’m all about the experimentation. So much so that I meant to include it in the post, but completely forgot! I think experimenting is one of the things that made me most comfortable in the kitchen; taste everything and figure out what works for you.

  4. Hi Christine, you are so motivational. And I completely get what you’re saying about the importance of the relationship with your kitchen. I know that if my kitchen is free of clutter I can cook like a demon but the minute it becomes an eyesore with things out of place, I stay clear. Space is very important regarding influencing creativity, as much as the ingredients themselves. Fab article 😀

    P.S. Thanks also for following my lovely chum Northern_Lass on Twitter. Today she told me how she’s turning into a right domestic goddess with the cooking apples from her garden.

  5. Alea says:

    What lovely advice! It has taken me many years to fall in love with cooking.

    Several years ago, I bought a set of copper jello molds off of ebay that remind me of my grandmother’s and hung them on the kitchen wall. Every time I see them, I am reminded of cooking with her and it makes me smile.

    Before I start cooking, I always tidy up. It just makes the experience so much more pleasant for me.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Christine, thank you so much for this article. I loved it and it had an energy about it that made me slow down as I was reading. I love the idea of cooking with someone you love; Little Miss Green often helps out and it’s one of the few times during the day when we can work in harmony rather than arguing about everything LOL!

    I love the idea that I am providing something so special for my family by taking the time to cook for them and it would be great if more of us could embrace these ideas rather than seeing cooking as a ‘less important’ chore that needs to be fitted in.

  7. Mr Green says:

    Hi Christine, that was a most evocative description of your kitchen life.

    These little tactile explorations become a delight instead of something else to get through before you can eat.

    Reminds me of the Zen approach to life, where we “Take time to care” and become immersed in every detail of the experience.

    This is the style of chefs who know how to inspire us to see food and cooking as a source of life and joy. Thanks so much for sharing your kitchen secrets with us …

  8. sandy says:

    what an article, i loved it. makes me feel I am not the only one who cooks from scatch every day. from now on I will relish every detail of cooking from the smell of home grown tomatoes, to crying when doing the onions. thank you

  9. Layla says:

    Great post!! 🙂

    Fact is, I hate our kitchen (or some aspects of it, so no wonder!!:)

    Also, my Mum hates cooking, so ha!
    I love experimenting with new food and may pay more effort if I find a new recipe with a lovely pic that other people say it’s delicious!

    Will try to use some of your tips! 🙂

  10. ross says:

    loved it – since retirement i have got back into enjoying my cooking – colours smells textures and taste – positive vibes from them all – love experimenting and the fact that income has now gone down matters not a jot creative use of veg and mince takes me all around the globe in taste – i only eat ethical meat so the amount i eat has dropped due to price but taste is so good little goes a long way. i treated myself to a granite work surface my pride and joy and worth every penny – only snag blunts knives if you chop straight onto it (which you can) – and painted everything a beautiful mango

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