Rustic is simplicity
When we think of rustic cooking we think of fresh crusty bread, of winding dirt roads and open countryside, clean washed laundry waving and backyard gardens overflowing with fresh veggies. We also picture cast iron pans, cozy cabins, and flaky biscuits and pies. Perhaps it is cooking a bubbling stew in a Dutch oven over a fire and sleeping under the stars. Rustic can come in many forms.
Following traditional cooking methods and flavors or discovering and creating your own customs is part of the rustic aesthetic and way of life. Whatever rustic looks like to you, it means fresh delicious ingredients, simple methods and tools, and slowing down and enjoying the process.
Wholesome natural ingredients
Choose wholesome natural ingredients that nourish your body. Always begin with fresh high quality foods when possible. Fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins should comprise most of the food we eat. Avoid processed and prepared foods when there is a simpler and healthier option.
Canned or packaged foods are a great time saving option to cook with but make sure to read the labels and choose carefully. Unhealthy ingredients are hidden in many of these goods. Cans and packages are a great pantry staple but make sure to choose ones with minimal preservatives. They are also necessary to have on hand in case of emergencies.
Rustic cooking is always delicious. When you start with fresh natural ingredients your food will always be scrumptious and satisfying.
Strive for balance between different types of food to get a full range of nutrition. If you focus your meals around veggies, healthy protein and a few whole grains there will still be room in your diet yummy comfort foods, occasional sweets and even wine. You might like my easy no knead whole wheat bread!
Experiment with a variety of different seasonings and spices to add amazing flavor and variety to your cooking. Learn more about the traditional spices and ingredients that are used in certain regions and countries.
Streamline your kitchen by getting rid of clutter that you don’t use or need. There are many methods and ways of cleaning out and simplifying your kitchen. When it comes down to it, we often need less than we think we need.
Get rid of duplicate gadgets and things you never use. Consider how many coffee cups and water bottles you really need and can use at one time. Match all those storage containers with their lids, get rid of the extras without matches. Eliminate pots in similar sizes. Three to four pots and several skillets is enough for most kitchens.
If you are not sure if you should get rid of certain items then set them aside for several months. If you don’t miss them then you can probably safely get rid of them. If you find that you still need them, by all means, keep them.
Choose quality over quantity. Select quality kitchen items that will last longer. Choose a cast iron skillet over a cheap frying pan because it will last forever if you take care of it. Likewise, a wooden spoon will last for ages when plastic will become brittle and break, not to mention clutter up landfills. In addition these long lasting quality materials also look nicer and help make your kitchen a simple and peaceful space.
Be outside. If you have the chance, go camping or just take a walk in the country. Pack a picnic and enjoy it in the park or woods. Build a fire. Gaze at the stars.
Source your own food. Plant a garden. Pick berries. Go fishing. Learn how to collect mushrooms.
Whatever your ideal rustic setting is, it is based on the land and being outdoors.
I love the simplicity of going on a picnic. Or better yet, camping. Yes, sometimes packing for it can be a little bit hectic but once you are there you can just sit back, relax and do the things you love.
In addition there is nothing better than cooking from your own garden or incorporating some home grown herbs from a pot on your window sill.
Can you believe that approximately one third of all food produced in the world gets thrown away? Tossing food away not to only wastes money but it also needlessly adds to landfills.
Avoid excessive waste in your kitchen by buying foods that you know you will eat. Store it properly so it does not go bad too quickly. Don’t buy perishables in bulk unless you know you can use it all.
Try pickling, drying, canning, fermenting, freezing and curing food to help preserve your bounty for coming seasons.
Save your leftovers and make sure to eat them. Too many little containers of bits and ends in your fridge? Toss them all into a hearty soup or a stir-fry for a new meal entirely.
When it is possible compost your inedible kitchen scraps. Set up a compost pile in your yard if you have the space. Luckily, now many cities offer composting services as well. Even if you don’t turn your pile, in about three years you will have lovely compost to spread on a garden bed or grass.
Being thankful for our food is humbling and helps keep us connected to land and the systems that provide us with food. While there are so many food-insecure people across the world, if you are lucky enough to have food, remember to be grateful.
I always say “muchas gracias” after eating a meal. It is from my husband’s hispanic tradition. In this simple statement you are saying “thank you” to the person who prepared the food, to the person who bought it, the earth for growing it, and the higher being for providing it.
Wether you say grace before the meal, muchas gracias afterwards, or whatever your own tradition is, it is important. Even just an unspoken thought of thanks will do wonders.
Try to incorporate fermented food into your diet on a regular basis. Ferment foods improve your digestion, overall gut health, help boost your immune system and promote a healthy body weight. Some fermented foods to include are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. Try my homemade yogurt recipe!
Avoid MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), a flavor enhancer and preservative that is known to give people headaches, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea and other conditions. It can also hide under other names such as hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monosodium salt, monohydrate or glutamate.
Avoid added nitrates. Nitrates are nitrogen and oxygen compounds which are known to cause cancer. They can be found in foods such as ham, bacon, deli meat and hot dogs. However, naturally occurring nitrites are found in leafy greens vegetables and can actually help fight cancers and chronic health conditions.
Avoid microwaves. There is evidence that microwaves are hurting our health. Microwaving your food produces free radicals, these are cells which can grow into carcinogens, potentially causing cancer. Nuking also alters the chemical composition of you food, making it less nutritious.
Nourish Your Soul
In a fast paced stressful world it is often necessary to slow down or take a break all together. On a regular basis meditate, do yoga, go for a walk or just sit doing nothing for a few moments.
Be content with life’s simplicity. Appreciate what you have. Look for pleasure in the small things like birds chirping or the smell of the air after a rain storm.
Practice self care first. You cannot possibly take care of others or properly do your job if you don’t take care of yourself first. Make sure to exercise, eat well and take time for what you need, like reading, painting, or walking.
Listen to your body and be mindful about what you take in. Whatever you are eating, slow down and actually enjoy it. Don’t just passively consume. Your body will tell you what it needs.