Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The New Domesticity

This weekend I was submerged in domestic bliss over a hot stove boiling cherries to prepare for pie and jam. I’ve just returned home from the northeast visiting my friend who I teased about “selling out to suburbia.” She had always been a city girl, living in a small apartment, commuting by subways and scraping by just to makes ends meet. Now she owns a charming bungalo home in the suburbs, commutes into the city (sometimes by car), has a full size stove (as opposed to her apartment sized appliance), a backyard with bird feeders and a driveway. She noted that since moving in, she has the urge to bake and cook more. We compared recipes. We talked about food. I realized in my hazing of her transition, I was hazing myself. I love the kitchen!

If this were the 1940’s, I would likely not be working outside the home. I would be tending to offspring and keeping house. I would prepare at least three meals a day. For some, this may sound horrible but I love the kitchen. I love preparing meals and cooking from scratch. When I read about contaminated food or chemically engineered foods, I squirm. I immediately think of something homemade.

When I set out to make jam and pie this weekend, it was labor intensive. The crust had to chill before I could roll it out. I had to pit the cherries by hand, sterilize the jars and wait for everything to congeal or bake. Yes, it took time but in the end, I had a delicious selection of homemade goods. I could identify where everything came from and how it was prepared.

4lbs of hand pitted cherries.
No one taught me how to do these things. As a young child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother in the kitchen. She cooked everything from scratch, even ketchup (it was delicious). She did not write many of her recipes down. That is a loss of mine but I learned from her science mastery to just try things. Some things work out, others do not. When she cooked from scratch, It took more time and no, she never worked outside the home.

Boiling cherries soaking pectin bath
My mom told me this weekend that my grandmother would be proud to know I love the kitchen. Even my own mother refuses to bake or cook things from scratch. She hates the kitchen heat and labor. It is a choice she makes. She laughed, while sampling my cherry pie, at my excitement over blueberries but shrilled when I mentioned peaches (her favorite fruit).
Finished product, pie and jam
The feminist movement was more about equality. Certainly, some women wanted to escape the grasp of domestic duties. I try to balance my career and home life. It is easier said than done. We do have meals in a paper bag at times. I am not as happy on those nights as I am in the kitchen making homemade sweet and sour chicken or burgers. It’s a choice. I choose to spend the time and effort. I do not need to burn my bra or escape from the confines of “the man.” I have an apron and I’m proud of it.

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