The Politics Of Household Management

When The Great Toilet Paper Scarcity happened, I was ready. I already had a working familiarity with Freedom Paper Company. (I learned about them back when my heart was breaking because of the death of Tamir Rice. Here is my convoluted rambling blog about that.) I knew our best way forward was to work towards self-sufficiency and reduced dependence on corporations.

Much of how I manage my household comes from doing my best to honor what I say publicly with my private actions.  I still believe much of this revolution will be "women's work."  In addition,  for the past 20 years, I had committed to a strong spiritual practice which included regular meditation and communication with my ancestors. Amazing how it takes a virus for people to become interested in household management.  There is so much political wisdom in the ways our grandmother’s kept house. 

You’ll remember that many of the Black Panther’s were opposed to WIC and food stamps because they saw the way in which we, as a people, would become dependent on a government that would never have our best interests at heart. They knew our relationship to our environment would change. Gone would be the backyard gardens and the dandelion wine. They were also in communication with members of AIM who spoke of the way in which government food handouts devastated the health and well-being of many an Indigenous Nation.
Have you also noticed that poor Black and Indigenous people have a way of doing things which is filled with power and connection to Nature. Then, White folks come along and tell us that we are doing things all wrong. And then, the next thing we know, White folks are doing what our elders had been successfully doing. And we’ve locked ourselves into some bullshit, powerless narrative which makes us dependent on enriching White people.

Take for example midwifery. Until - within my lifetime - we didn’t have good hospitals which accepted us as patients. But, we had herbalists, healers and granny midwives. Have you noticed how White women are now pining after homebirths and we’re going to the hospital? I haven’t gone looking for the proper statistics on maternal and infant mortality because I get the feeling they weren’t even counting us back then. But, here we are.

In addition, our homes were less toxic. You don’t really need much to keep a clean house. Water, baking soda, epsom salts, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, some household herbs and bleach (sparingly used) will do you just fine. (I’ll put a few recipes below.) If you are a spiritual person, you can actually do so much to fortify, protect and uplift your home by simply making your own cleaners.

Fortunately for me, my mother grew up during The Great Depression. So, I learned how to stock a proper pantry.  And because of her,  I always feel a little insecure if my pantry isn’t stocked.  It helped me get through many a rough time in my life.  I remember the first thing I used to do when I got a check once a month was add to the pantry.  My daughter doesn't actually know how poor we were when she was little.  Regardless, anything can happen at any time. The list below should do you well enough to simply pick up fresh fruits and veg every other week. (Keep in mind, milk and cheese can be frozen.  I don't have the freezer space.  But, if you do. Add that to your freezer list.)  We didn’t really have to do much shopping when the Covid-19 hit.

Having a stocked pantry helps put you in a position to help or feed others.  I remember a neighbor had hungry kids.  I went to my freezer and pantry and was able to get him to payday.  Everything you put out comes back to you.  There have been many times I was low on food and people fed me or gave me what I needed to feed myself.  This is part of being ready.

So even before we entered into a Pandemic, we thought about our relationship to the world in which we are living. I began to look at our goals as a family. How do we make a difference? What small things can we do now? What can we grow towards? Then, I broke those goals down into what we could easily manage. Awhile back, when I was ill, I gave up a little. My son recently reminded me, “It doesn’t matter if everyone else is doing it, what matters is that we’re doing it. It counts.”

These are our goals:
  • Make better use of small, local stores - especially Black vendors.
  • Develop better relationships with local farmers.
  • Keep a successful home garden.
  • Learn how to can our own food from our own garden.
  • Reduce dependence on Amazon.
  • Reduce waste. (Compost. Buy in bulk when possible, install a bidet, work towards The Family Cloth, reuse what can be reused.)
  • Live more harmoniously with nature.
  • Do our best to live in relationship and community with others.
So, we’re doing pretty okay with getting to some of those goals.  We have chickens now. We do
 Our girl Pepita's eggs.
compost. We had a decent garden last year. We dug up our front lawn and are slowly putting in a bee and butterfly garden. (Last year, we got bumble bees, butterflies and a wild bunny!) We’re reducing our dependence on Amazon. It’s been about five years. (And if something happens and you break your own rules, forgive yourself.)

It helps that I really hate grocery shopping, so I’d rather have a stocked pantry and refresh as needed or when there are sales. You can have a fully stocked pantry by doing it over a period of time.

It helps to pick one action to which you can commit to and master it. Then choose another. Getting into a smooth household rhythm takes time. Years. Build on what you know and then improve on it. For example, my mother didn’t bake her own bread or raise chickens. That was something I chose to do. I am expanding on the knowledge she gave me. 


There are our rules:
  1. Plan for the obvious.
    • When you go out, you are going to get thirsty. Carry your beverage with you.
    • Pack a snack.
  2. We don’t buy or use bottled water. If there is a choice, we choose the product in the glass or aluminum container.
  3. We don’t shop at Walmart
  4. We don’t use Nestle Products.
A quick word on water...  
These are our water filters. 
They go in white. 
They come out this way.


Please stop buying bottled water.  If you can, get a water filter like a Brita Filter. If you rent, ask the landlord if you can install a water filter on your kitchen tap. If you own your house, get a whole house water filter. It will pay for itself in 6 months. It will amaze your skin and hair. You will save money and you will be saving our planet. On that note: It is my opinion that in some manner, we should require whole house water filters for every property. I think now is a good time to pressure for that simple basic human right - the right for clean, potable water in every dwelling.

The How To

Remember...
1. Don’t throw away those glass jars! They are so handy for so very many things. (wink)

2. Dinner happens...every single day … whether we are ready or not. Best to be ready.

3. Managing your kitchen chores for ease takes time away from preferred activities, but truly, it helps.

Stock your pantry 
1. If you use something, make sure that when you replace it, you send the newer item to the back or bottom. 
2.  In the case of dried goods. I remove grains, beans, etc. from their packaging and store them in sterile glass jars.  When you replenish, empty remaining beans into a bowl; fill your bean jar; and return old beans to the top. (Make sure you wash your jars and resterilize every few months.) 
3. In the case of stacked canned goods, take all the old cans down from the shelf. Put the new cans where they were, restock on top.
4. If you have a great freezer, stock up on frozen vegetables.  (I don't have a good freezer. Sigh.)

Prepare to Cook Daily By Prepping For The Week

  • Cut up the things you use in almost every meal. (Fresh garlic, onions, celery, bell peppers, carrots and mushrooms.) Store them in any clean food safe containers you have on hand. (Old yogurt tubs, small pyrex containers, old sauce jars.) Potatoes can be diced and kept in water with a little bit of salt and lemon juice.
  • Think of your favorite recipes and make a spice mix. I will often buy bulk spices and then combine the different “flavors” into 1 medium Mason Jar. That way when I cook, I’m not fumbling for all the different jars. I just add a tablespoon or so... and done. I put a recipe for my basic goes in everything spice and what I remember for a dish described below.
  • Defrost two meats at a time in warm water. Cook one that night. Season the other for tomorrow's meal (You can use a ziploc for that or an airtight glass container.)
  • Once a month make broth. (Save ends of carrots, onion peels, mushroom stems, celery bottoms, add garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt and whatever vegetables that may have gone off. I often buy parsnips and turnips just for broth making. If you eat meat, on grocery shopping day, it is more cost effective to buy one of those cooked chickens and then throw the carcass with everything else into a stockpot, instant pot or slow cooker.)
  • Make pizza dough and refrigerate it as a popular easy meal for the night you don’t want to cook. Pro-Tip - if you have a food processor, do it in this order, pastry crust, pizza dough, bread. You don’t even have to clean the bowl. Just boom, boom, boom. Pastry crust can be frozen in plastic wrap or ziploc for 3 to 6 months. (Haven't figured out how the ancestors did this without plastic yet.) You ask why pastry crust? Because it is super for easy meals or leftovers. It’s also better to divide your bread dough into rolls so it doesn’t get eaten all at once and can be used for sandwiches… or French Toast!
  • Cook two boxes of pasta and reserve half for an easy casserole.
  • Once a month consider batch cooking. My current home isn’t set up for that. But, basically, double or triple cook a meal and freeze two of them for future use. I used to do individually wrapped burritos in aluminum foil. You can do this for beans, soups, etc.)


Make a dinner vision for the week. 
Here is a first of the month rolling in the monies menu.

Grocery day, Cooked Chicken, Steamed broccoli, Pesto Pasta.
15 minute meal


Prep Day - Soup, fresh bread, salad

Monday - Faux Mole Seared Chicken breasts, yellow rice, spinach.

Tuesday - Macaroni and Cheese, brussel sprouts

Wednesday - Pizza with leftover chicken, whatever you like, fresh garlic, onions, etc.

Thursday - Lentils Bulgur Wheat & Salad

Friday - Pan seared Salmon, Rice, oven roasted squash & sweet potatoes

Morning of Grocery Day Bonus - Set out pastry dough in refrigerator for Squash & Sweet Potato empanadas in the morning.

The above menu shows how having a vision for the week ahead by prepping (extra pasta or planning for leftover chicken and extra vegetables) makes cooking easier.


What Goes In A Fully Stocked Pantry
(Family of four to six. Approximately 2 - 3 month supply)

Our girls Pepita and Sam
Dry Goods
5 pounds of each variety of dried bean you like. (I keep lentils, black eyed peas, navy, pinto, kidney and black beans.

8 pounds of coffee beans

3 pounds of Bulgur Wheat

5 pound bag of rice

12 boxes of pasta

6 boxes spaghetti

6 pounds of flour

10 pounds of “white” sugar (I use the bulk unbleached sugar)

3 pounds of brown sugar

6 jars ready made pasta sauce

6 cans tomato paste

6 cans tomatoes with jalapeno peppers

1 large box of dried milk

1 case condensed milk

1 case of coconut milk

1 case Coconut Water

2 big bottles of Hershey’s syrup

3 big bottles honey

4 bottles maple syrup

1 case green beans

1 case canned corn

2 big jars of peanut butter

4 jars Better Than Bouillon

2 jars of yeast (One in the freezer)

2 cans baking powder

4 boxes salt (If you feel weird, just use all kinds, sea, kosher, pink and black)

4 massive boxes of baking powder.

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Grapeseed Oil

3 Cans of Breadcrumbs / Panko

24 rolls paper towels

Nuts

Dried Fruits

1 months worth of toilet paper per bathroom

2 gallon jars of White Vinegar (for cleaning)

3 bottles of rubbing alcohol (for cleaning)

2 large dish soap bottles

Mega size dishwasher Tabs.

2 large Dr Bronner’s soaps per bathroom.


Freezer

12 pounds of butter (butter can be frozen)

8 smoked turkey wings

6 pork neck bones

12 vegetable patties

6 pounds ground beef. (Individual freezer safe packages)

12 chicken thigh frozen packets (I get the fresh ones that come in freezer ready bags at Costco)

12 Chicken breast frozen packages. (See above)

1 bag frozen salmon filets (See above)

1 bag reheat sausage patties

3 pounds shredded cheese

So, that's your pantry. If you have a good freezer, consider 6 bags of spinach, 3 bags of peas, 6 bags of cauliflower or broccoli. 

 Leave a comment if you want to know what to do with certain pantry items.  Below, are some of the things I mentioned. 


Spice Recipes

Mama Spice

1 part Onion granules

1 part Garlic Granules

⅛ part celery seed

⅛ part lemon peel

⅛ part Paprika

You can do other jars with for example, 1 part Mama Spice to 1 part Herb De Provence or Italian Seasonings

Faux Mole (a great dry rub for pan seared chicken)

6 parts sugar

2 parts salt

1 part cocoa powder

1 part Cumin

1 part Paprika

½ part ground Coriander

½ part chipotle powder

½ chili powder

some Mama Spice for kicks.

Bring a skillet to just about smoke heat.  Add a few drops of grapeseed oil.  Cover a chicken breast in rub. Sear on both sides.  Place in oven at 400 for eight minutes.


Cleaning Recipes

Hardwood and Tile

To your mop bucket of hot water add

1 cup White Vinegar

1 cup Infusion of Basil, Rosemary, Bay Leaf

(Or several drops of your preferred essential oil.)


Carpet

1 cup Baking Soda

1 Cup Sea Salt or 1 Cup Epsom Salt

Grind to a semi fine powder - lavender, chamomile, rose petals


Glass Cleaner

1/2 cup rubbing/isopropyl alcohol

1/3 cup white distilled vinegar

distilled water (Filtered is fine)

(A few drops of your favorite essential oil)


Thanks for reading! 

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