Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Friday, September 17, 2010

That room where we cook

Beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup so rich So green,
Waiting in a hot tureen
Who for such dainties would not stoop.
Soup of the evening
Beautiful Soup!
       ~C.S. Lewis, Alice in Wonderland

I couldn't resist quoting one of my favorite books here.  With the cooler weather finally settling in, we've been finding ourselves back in our kitchen.  Anyone who knows me knows I love to cook.  Baking especially.  And although I am loathe to eat anything even remotely warm during the summer, I usually manage to produce pretty decent meals for my family. 

But now...now...I am back in that room where we cook.  My beloved and fairly recently renovated (thanks, Dad!) kitchen.  My shiny stainless steel stove, having rested peacefully and spotlessly for much of the summer, is now speckled with the crusty evidence of the start of an all out cooking binge.  Yeah, I'll clean it up tonight.

This is the way we knead the dough...

It all started a couple of weeks ago with an unexpected cold snap.  Baked apples for breakfast.  A rather large batch of applesauce.  I was just getting warmed up here.  And then I was forced to make sauce with the bags and bags of frozen tomatoes I had from our garden.  I literally could not fit anything else in my freezer.  Let's just say it snowballed from there.  Yesterday we made several loaves of cinnamon-raisin bread,  today it was Stone Soup and biscuits.  Tomorrow (although I made it ahead tonight) we'll be having baked french toast for breakfast. 

And did I mention we're going apple picking tomorrow?  I'm envisioning the back seat of our station wagon filled with bushels of lovely, ripe apples.  Not likely to happen, but I can dream, can't I?  Gallons of applesauce, apple butter, apple pies, apple strudel, baked apples.....*sigh*...

My kids, of course love to get in on the action.  Part of our homeschooling day always includes some sort of food related activity.  And on Fridays, during our housework time (yes, we have a designated housework time) we make soup.  We happen to have read Stone Soup, so we made some of our own.  The kids had a blast, as they always do when we cook.  Yesterday, after having read many farm and grain-related stories (The Little Red Hen etc.)  We made our rasin bread.  It all fits into our curriculum quite nicely.  Real hands on learning and all.

I'd like to mention here that part of Waldorf schooling is establishing daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms.  For example, on Monays we paint.  On Fridays we make soup, and so forth.  We have assigned each day a color, which is relfected in our calendar ring and again in the color of the cloth napkins (yes, I made those too) that my kids use at mealtimes.  We also have a grain of the day:  Wednesday is Quinoa, Thursday is wheat, Friday is Barley and so on.  This may all sound odd and restrictive at first, but I'm finding that (just like all the Waldorf books say) it is comforting and in a way freeing to have these things established.  Not only does it help the kids feel secure in what's coming next, but I have found it to be extremely helpful in planning snacks and meals this way.  We always eat pretty well; we're vegetarian and eat a lot of whole foods.  But this way I can be sure that our diet doesn't get hung up around one particular thing.  Rice and pasta are just too easy to duplicate during the week.

I digress here a bit.  My kids are total foodies, and always have been.  They love to eat out, when we get the chance to, and I love to see them discover something new that becomes their "new favorite".  For example, tomorrow we will be away from home for the whole day, and although I could pack a picnic lunch that would save us a ton of money, frankly, I'm too lazy. Plus, we're just about out of food here (except for all that left over soup and raisin bread) and desperately require a trip to the grocery store.  So I'm sure we'll be eating out.  And I'm sure the kids will request dumplings at their favorite Chinese resaurant (the owners grow much of their own produce, how cool is that?) followed by crepes right down the street from there. 

I am so happy that S and F are exposed to the world of growing, cooking, and eating their own food.  I did a lot of that with my grandparents when I was young, and it really stuck with me in a way I never expected.  Passing these things along to my own children is, for me, a way of honoring them and all they taught me.  I don't see a lot of people doing this kind of thing with their children these days.  Honestly it makes me a little sad.  What kind of knowledge are people passing along to future generations?  Will it help them feel connected to their past, the earth, or their familiy?  It is my hope that in the future, my children will pass along their childhood experiences to their own children in such a way that makes them remember not only how to do something useful, but how enjoyable it can be when done in the context of family and tradition.


  1. We pass along our love of cooking and old recipes. I have my mother's cook book from when my brothers were small - I learned to bake cakes using the recipe from it; now my children cook, using the same book. I know using those recipes does make me feel connected. Being migrants we don't have many material objects that connect us backwards. Cooking does.

  2. What a beautiful thing you're doing for your family! I have one of my grandmother's favorite old cookbooks. I don't use it much, but I love that it's a part of my kitchen. My other little treasure from her is small; an index card with a hand written message to me and her recipe for refrigerator pickles. :)