Using the Holy Spirit in my Cooking and Food Storage

When I was attending BYU in 1987 my best friend Deb introduced me to the book Laurels Kitchen.  Highly Influenced by my sister in law Brenda, I had made the decision to be a Vegetarian once I left home at the age of 18 and was always looking for new and better ways to nourish my body without using too many animal foods in my cooking.

I wasnt’ an ethical Vegetarian, I just felt better when I ate mostly grains and beans and lots of live foods.  And my body had a hard time digesting meat, so it was sort of a natural thing for me to do.

When I read the chapter in Laurel’s Kitchen about being a “Keeper of the Keys”, this philosophy really resonated in my heart. I had always planned to be a Home Maker and had the models of my Mother and Grandmothers, who were excellent examples of what it meant to be a deliberate mother, to aspire to. The defining of what it meant to be the woman who had charge over her families nutrition and health in the book truly identified the type of Mother I planned and hoped to be.

A few quotes from the book:

“I have begun to wonder, of late, about this belief that housework is essentially tedious. To what extent do you suppose it has been hoisted upon us by those same commercial interests who so obligingly provide us with dishwashers, dehydrated dinners, and disposable diapers – all meant very generously, of course, to relieve us of all that horrible work, obviously an evil in itself?”

“The less than thrilling side of homemaking will always be there. But as soon as we take into our own hands some of the tasks we’d previously consigned to machines and manufacturers, our work becomes vastly more gratifying.”

“Why compartmentalize our lives so that art is a thing apart? There is an artistic way to carry out even the simplest task, and there is great fulfillment to be had from finding out that way and perfecting it. To lead lives of artistry, we have only to slow down, to simplify, and to start making wise choices.”

Now I feel like I should insert here that the second year of my marriage I spent lying on my couch doped out of my mind on psychiatric meds, watching talk shows all day, and feeding my husband spaghetti every night for supper.  That reality juxtaposed with my BYU fantasies around Home Making was such a stark contrast that I was tempted upon occasion to throw all of my books in the trash and just live on chocolate and drugs.

But a spark of hope kept me going through the darkest year of my life and I have spent the past 22 years attempting to make my dreams a reality.  Most days reality is so far removed from what I had envisioned my life to be as a mother that I have to just laugh.  It is so much more challenging, gut wrenching, and difficult than anything I had even considered.  But my heart has been in the right place in terms of my desires and I think when we have a goal in mind, we do make progress towards it, more so than if we were flying by the seat of our pants just taking life as it comes.

When I arrived in Boulder in 1991, I was seven months pregnant with Allison and absolutely obsessed with getting in a three month supply of food BEFORE the baby arrived.  I had sold all of our food storage before we left Ohio, and only had a couple weeks to get it done.

I felt blessed that we had a cannery so close by in Aurora and made the decision to take Shelly down with me to can about 750 pounds of food.

I’ll never forget that experience.  When I arrived the little old guy who ran the place was sitting in a dark corner eating a wonder bread peanut butter sandwich.  As I looked at the huge warehouse full of wheat, oats, beans, and other bulk foods, it seemed rather odd to have that loaf of Balloon Bread sitting on the counter by him.  I asked him to show me how the canner worked.  He did and then said, “I won’t be able to do any heavy lifting for you because I have a bad back.”

I had been toting fifty pound bags of grain since I was a little girl, so I was not put off by the lack of help.

I quickly gathered up 25 and 50 lb bags of wheat (red and white), rice, oats, beans, and dried apples and went to work.  I’ll never forget that canning experience.  Michelle was two and I had a nice big pregnant belly filled up with 35 week gestated Allison.  I filled the cans and sealed them, and Shelly put the stickers on.  We didn’t box the cans, just put them in the car loose.  We canned all of that food (750) pounds in about two hours. Each can holds about five pounds of food, so we did about 75 cans.  On the way home we were caught in Denver Traffic and a November Blizzard and it took five hours of driving to make it back to Boulder, normally a thirty minute drive.  All I can remember is that I needed to pee and could not find a place to pull off until we almost made it halfway home.

I often tell this story when I teach Food Storage Classes because so many people are paralyzed to know where to start when storing food, and don’t have any idea how simple it all is.  Here is a Food Storage Calculator if you want to figure out how much food you will need for your family.

You don’t have to be LDS (Mormon) to use the home storage Centers strategically located around the country.  Here is a map where you can locate the center closest to your home.  Just give them a call to learn when they are open and you can head on over and can up some bulk foods.

When we sent our daughters off to school I made certain to include a few bins of grains, beans, and seeds as well as some oil and sweetener for them to have in case of an emergency.  This supply could easily last them both about three months, and they are planning to eat it as the year goes by.

After they left, I finished inventorying our food and realized that we had some gaps in our years supply.  So yesterday I went to the cannery and purchased fifty cans and borrowed the portable canner to use to store the foods that I have systematically been purchasing over the past few weeks.  I bought 75 pounds of Kamut Grain, a 50 pound bag of Golden Flax Seeds, and a few bags of rice, beans, and sugar as well as some dog food for our little Silky Terrier, Samwise Gandalf Hatch.

From that day when I had my first canning adventure in 1991 to today, the Holy Spirit has been my guide, teaching me what is needful for my little ones and helping me to prioritize our purchases.

As I learned line upon line the many skills necessary to cook with whole foods, and dealt with the problems that crop up when picky eaters won’t eat them, it has been just a wild roller coaster ride of adventure dealing with a gluten intolerant husband, the various creepy crawlies that accompany long term food storage – weevils, moths, beetles, mice, ants, and MOLD….and although we have never used our 72 hour kits for an emergency, it does get interesting when various children use them as their own personal pantry when searching for “store bought” snacks around the house.

I began canning the food last night.  I have about 500 pounds of food to do up in #10 cans.  I plan to totally revamp my kitchen, and blog the whole adventure as we go along.  I am still recovering from a serious lung infection, and frankly all I want to do after I post this Blog is go back to bed.  But I am determined to muster through and get some of it done this morning.

I strongly believe that I was sent to my family at the time I was because I had a life mission to accomplish around Self Reliance.  I was born in 1968 in Detroit and my Parents lived through the 67 Detroit Riots while I was in my Mothers Womb.  The three days of total chaos that took place about 20 minutes from our home in Berkley Michigan did something to my gestating brain, and all of my life I have felt drawn to survival literature, stories, and self reliant living and SKILLS.

You know, Bow hunting, Numchucks, the essential skills of life…Napoleon Dynamite has some great information about skills:

As world events play out and we get closer to the time when the Savior will arrive back on Planet Earth, I know that this preparation will bring the Peace that we all crave as we move forward.

It felt so odd to me yesterday to drive down to Denver listening to talk radio and hear it reported that the largest earthquake recorded in the past 100 years had hit southern Colorado that morning.  As I drove home from the cannery with my car packed with food and cans in every spare inch of space, I heard on the radio that a large earthquake had hit the east coast.

Odd, the timing of it all.


I know the Holy Spirit has guided my paths and helped MOTIVATE me in various and sundry ways to get prepared, learn how to cook the foods, learn how to eat the foods, and not give up even under the most intense pressure from those around me, especially my children during the ages of 7 and 15.

I remember making really great lunches for Paul the first year of our marriage, and the blowback that hit me in the face when I went to the office parties and I was the pariah among the other wives, most of whom who did not cook, was intense.

I was not aware, but the other men had been watching the food that I lovingly packed for my sweetie and complaining to their wives about it.  This side of home making is uncomfortable and has been my constant bugaboo since I was first married.  Friends have confided that they hated me when we first met because I seemed to like to cook and be home with my children and the complaints of “why can’t you be like Jenny Hatch” from husbands and older kids rattled them and put wedges in our potential relationships.  My best friends are mostly into Primal Conscious Mothering and it helps so much to have a circle of ladies around the world who spend time on the same things I do; Shopping for whole foods, cooking, breastfeeding, and doing dishes.  (Not implying that I am breastfeeding anyone at our house right now, but I have spent 13 of the past 23 years with a child on the breast).

It does seem odd that when we try out best as Mothers we have this army of people who get threatened because they have not made similar choices and feel the need to throw rocks of derision and hate.

One of the funniest parts about being a dedicated home maker in Boulder is that I am NOT a Boulder athletic “skinny” mom.  Boulder county is over run with professional and amateur athletes who spend just about every spare minute running, working out, doing Yoga, and comparing workout routines with friends.  These types of Moms tend not to cook, and even though many of them have big gourmet kitchens to work in, they only use them for parties and holidays and feed their kids packaged crap day in and day out.

I have a BIG plus size Mama Bear Body and my workouts revolve around necessary things like walking the dog, biking to the store/school and my personal favorite form of exercise, enjoying intimate time with my husband!

Because I enjoy eating, cooking, and use my kitchen several times a day, often I have dirty dishes in the sink, various and sundry cooking messes going in the crock pot, oven, bread machine, and juicer, and I don’t deep clean my home very often because of asthma.  So when my “skinny mom” friends show up at my house they are often horrified by the messes, the disorder, and the seeming chaos and often treat me as a “problem” that needs to be fixed.

I have taken this judgement for many years…but lately I have about had it with busybodies getting in my face trying to “fix” me and my life.  We all make our choices about how to live.  My choices have revolved around being a deliberate home maker and mother.  Both jobs are messy and time consuming.  Because I enjoy spending my spare time reading and writing about current events, I don’t really get into the gossiping, fashion, home decorating, and Perfection of body and house that some of my peers seem to revel in.  They really don’t get me, even though I have been acquaintances with some of them for years.  And frankly, I don’t understand how my Mormon friends can look at what is happening in the world and not prepare, not learn self reliance, not take the time to really buckle down and master the skills of mothering.

So many of them are in complete denial and absolutely believe that the infrastructures that have been built will continue on for the duration of time.  I wonder if they have read the scriptures and if they have read them, do they understand???

Well, I guess we can all do a little less judging and a little more understanding and give each other the space and the grace to grow and learn at our own pace.  Did’t mean to be so “Rhymy” just now, it just sort of typed itself…

I trust that the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of others just as he has worked in mine, and I need to not be so defensive and hurt when others judge.

Anyway, I will be blogging this adventure quite a bit over the coming weeks, so stay tuned…

Jenny Hatch

Pick a Little, Talk a Little

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