Friday, June 8, 2018

Motherly Advice....The many ways in which we've surrendered our power (and how to get it back)....

There is a series called Back in Time for Dinner.
Have you watched it?
I remember watching the UK version a couple of years ago, and it was fascinating.
There is now an Australian version, and it's just as interesting.
I found the first two episodes, encapsulating the 1950s and 1960s, quite emotional.
Women truly were powerless in so many ways. Many lacked the freedom to choose their own life path, and the home was devoid of the convenience that technological and industrial advances provide nowadays. Looking back, I now see my own Mothers frustrations in a new light.
In this day and age, we have the enormous extravagance of both freedom of choice, and technology.
Wonderful advances, both, of that there is no doubt whatsoever.
But here's the rub.
In adopting reliance upon many items once considered 'convenient', or 'an advance in technology', we've surrendered the ability to do anything other than what we've been brainwashed to do.
We've surrendered our crowns as Monarch of the Home and Hearth, and left them out in the weather to rust.
Well. You know me. I have some ideas on how we can renew those crowns, and reassume our powerful role.
Let's look at a few
Disposable Nappies (Diapers):
 We used to use cloth nappies. Sure we had to wash them. But we also made it fun, stitching flannelette nappies from pretty nursery prints, or dyeing towelling nappies into fun colours. You'd relish the sunny days with a washing line full of freshly washed nappies.
I read with a growing sense of unease, a recent post on social media. A young Mum had no disposable nappies left, and no money to buy any for another week. She was asking if anyone on that page, lived nearby and was able to give her any. I was so saddened that anyone would find themselves in that situation, without an alternative.
This Mum had completely given her power to disposable nappies. When someone suggested cloth nappies, there was great discussion on how you kept them on. Many simply had no knowledge of how to make a cloth nappy 'work'.
Now I'm all for the convenience and comfort for bub of disposables. I used them on my last two children. Fabulous.
BUT, in the back of my mind, I knew that I could revert to cloth nappies in a heartbeat if I had to.
Perhaps this is more a story of education than surrendering of power. A story of ensuring you always have a Plan B.
I like having a Plan B for just about everything. That makes me feel both powerful and fearless.
Have a Plan B.
Tinned food and bottled water:
Things like white beans, kidney beans and so on, are the easiest of things to cook. So why do we pay ten times the amount for tinned beans? You buy them dry so they're easier to store, you soak a small amount of them overnight, you simmer them the next day till tender. It's not hard, and saves so much storage space.
It's the same with tinned spaghetti and baked beans. Just stop and think about how much spaghetti you actually get in a tin. Then try my home made version:
Yummier than tinned spaghetti
You need:

Generic brand spaghetti (not thin spaghetti or vermicelli)..make an 'O' with your thumb and forefinger...fill the 'O' with uncooked spaghetti...that's about the right amount!

 2-3 diced tomatoes

1 stock cube or 1 teaspoon of stock powder....we use vegetable

1 pinch each of dried garlic granules and dried onion flakes

1 tablespoon of cream cheese or thick natural yoghurt

 Boil a big pot of water with a bit of salt, and add the spaghetti. Boil rapidly until cooked, then turn  the heat source off, and leave the spaghetti in the water for up to an hour....this makes the strands swell and go soft, like the tinned stuff....if you or your family don't want it soft, just drain as normal.

In a pan add a splash of olive oil, and add all the ingredients except the spaghetti and the cream cheese. Bring it all to a simmer, allow to soften well, then stir through the cheese or yoghurt.

Drain the spaghetti, and add it to the pan. Toss thoroughly, and leave for at least 30 minutes for the spaghetti to absorb the flavours. Re-heat if necessary.
Completely delicious and conjured up from nothing really. And not a tin in sight.
Don't build a new kitchen to house your pantry needs.
That's a whole new crazy.
Find ways to minimise what's in your trolley and your pantry. Buy dried legumes, concentrated cleaners, make your own baked beans and spaghetti, and invest in a soda stream to make your own sparkling water.
That's a bit of power right there!
Produce in packaging:
Why let someone else decide which six apples or pears or bananas or tomatoes you should buy?
This one really gets to me. Often I find that avocadoes are prepackaged in threes or fours and are less expensive that way, but I don't want someone else choosing my produce. What if I want two for today and two for later in the week? Sometimes they're cleverly packaged that way to conceal damaged produce or produce past its prime. Sneaky.
Avoid the supermarket for fresh produce. Find your nearest local fruit and vege barn and shop there instead. Not only will the produce be less expensive, due to the high turnover, it will probably be fresher, sourced locally and NOT packed so that your power to choose for yourself is stolen from you.
Learn to choose for yourself. That's an important skill and a power all by itself.
Not growing anything:
 I grew up on a farm. My grandparents grew tomatoes, citrus fruit, bananas, mulberries, strawberries, chokoes, passionfruit, persimmons, macadamia nuts, mangoes.
My Mother continued that tradition and grew all of that in our own back yard or in pots. And that was normal in most back yards. It got us through lots of tough times.
Don't surrender every single thing to the supermarket. Even in this day and age, money gets tight, natural disasters prevent supermarkets from opening or they open but can't be restocked. Our reliance on supermarkets is unnatural.
Grow something....herbs, a bit of fruit, a passionfruit vine. You'll love it. The satisfaction of being able to go outside and clip a few herbs for an omelette or pluck a lemon for a freshly caught fish, is sublime.
Relying on our cars:
Everyone complains about the cost of fuel.
But nobody is willing to take the obvious step of simply using the car less often.
This is a difficult one if you live in an isolated area. But for many of us, the nearest supermarket is less than a kilometre or two away, and with some imagination, you could be getting your daily dose of exercise and Vitamin D from the sun, with a simple walk to the shops.
There were some things about 'the good old days' that simply made more sense. A daily trip to buy what was required to feed the family saw everyone more fit and healthy, and meant that oversized kitchens, pantries and refrigerators were not required. In addition, most families did not own a car. We didn't.
Mum bought her first car at the age of 40, AFTER we'd all grown up. Hard to believe nowadays, but true. We walked. We used public transport. That was it.
You can do it. Now that my daughter has finished school, she catches the train to University, and I'm lucky if I use my car once a week to visit my sons and granddaughters. I walk as much as I possibly can. We're both fitter for the experience, and our fuel bill has reduced by 75%.
Credit card debt to have the illusion of a good life:
Credit cards did not exist until the mid 1970s here in Australia. Department stores had personal accounts where you could spend up to a pre-determined limit and pay it off slowly. But that was it. People just bought things when they could afford them. Credit cards have a lot to answer for. Since their introduction, we've been lured into the spend, spend, spend mentality like never before, and rates of bankruptcy have increased exponentially.
Spending on the credit card doesn't seem real. It's not like opening your wallet and handing over a $50 note. It's emotionless. You get the thrill without the thought. I noted recently that banks now have to declare on your credit card bill, how long it would take you to pay off your balance if you only pay the minimum required payment.
About time I say. I know someone who would take 60 years and 7 months to pay off their balance at that rate. If that's not alarming, I don't know what is!
Try to adopt our grandparents mentality. If you don't have the cash you don't buy it. Of all the powers to give away, this one is the most distressing. Get back your power by saving for major purchases, and using cash for as many transactions as possible, and you'll see a change very quickly. Handing over cash, is a lot more difficult than waving a card over an electronic device. You tend to think twice. And paying with cash, often brings real benefits in being able to negotiate a better price.
That is a formidable power!
Buying alcohol or soft drink:
I cannot believe the modern attitude that we 'deserve' a drink every night. I mean an alcoholic one.
 I've moved in and out of social circles where this was acceptable. I can tell you right now that drinking every night is detrimental to your health, your finances and your relationships.
Drinking lots of sugary soft drinks isn't good for you either.
It takes a while to adjust, but with patience and perseverance, you can learn to like sparkling water (made with your Soda Stream), herbal teas, or home made brews of Ginger Beer, just as much as your nightly glass of wine or cider. Better for your health, your wallet and your family.
You NEED that power.
Buying everything 'not in it's natural state':
Tinned this, processed that, manufactured meat, things wrapped in pastry/breadcrumbs and whatnot.
 The great shift towards Convenience Foods as depicted in Back in Time for Dinner's 1960s episode was not all for the best. An opinion that I think will be upheld in future episodes as the growing awareness on how the way we eat, impacts on our health and longevity, is realised.
Initially those changes were thought to empower women. It freed them up to pursue a career. They were no longer tied to the kitchen bench and the stove. Food in cardboard and tins were hailed as a revolution for families. But look at the damage that has wreaked on our ability to make food from scratch, and our long term health and that of our families.
An occasional takeaway or pre-packaged meal does no harm for sure, but where does it end?
I've twice in three weeks, seen a television programme show people who don't even want to crumb a piece of chicken themselves. Breadcrumbs were once a byproduct of stale bread, and were made in the home. They were used to crumb less than perfect cuts of meat to make them more appetising.
Now they're a whole industry in and of themselves.
I once saw a Chinese Medicine practitioner for ongoing back pain. His number one piece of advice? Avoid ALL processed food. I mean everything. No ham, no tinned fruit, no confectionery, no breadcrumbs, nothing out of a tin, a box, or a piece of wrapping paper.
Just eat fresh food, in it's natural state.
This was really hard at first, although not unpleasantly so, but within a week, my skin was glowing, my back pain had reduced to a manageable level, and I had a real spring in my step.  It really made a difference.
That's an extreme course of action, but here's another example.
You know those little tiny tins of salmon and tuna? We buy them, know...GUILTY. Daughter takes them for lunches as they're less likely to get squished in her knapsack at University. I snap them up a dozen at a time when they're half price at the supermarket.
But I recently had an epiphany. Those tins hold 95gms or around 3ozs of salmon or tuna. The premium brand of tinned salmon costs around $3.50 for between 95gms and 125gms. For that price, we, and she, could be eating fresh salmon, baked, steamed or pan fried with delectable spices, and our enjoyment of that salmon would be multiplied exponentially. Yes, I know. It's less 'convenient', but why does convenience always have to be the deciding factor?? It didn't used to be.
I swear to the heavens that half the reason we overeat nowadays, is because our enjoyment of our food, or rather the power to enjoy our food the way it should be, has also been snatched from us.
Why are the choices for added flavours, left to a marketing team and a factory?
What if I want lemon pepper, chilli, tomato and basil on my salmon, not just one or the other?
It takes less than five minutes to season and steam or microwave a piece of fresh salmon seasoned the way I like it, and my ENJOYMENT of that piece of salmon far exceeds what I'd get from opening a tin, and consuming thready bits of inferior salmon swimming in a predetermined, mass produced sauce.
Crumbing a piece of chicken with breadcrumbs seasoned with a Cajun or Moroccan spice takes one minute, and again, elevates our enjoyment enormously.
We actually eat LESS, because we've enjoyed our food MORE. We've taken control of how it's seasoned, cooked, presented. We've used flavours that we love. We've sought to regain that power.
Think about it.
Isn't it just smart and discerning, to take back the power for our food choices, and the ensuing impact on our health and wellbeing, by shunning what is simply 'convenient' for that which is just holistically better for us?
I think so.
I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I'm polishing up my newly rediscovered crown.
I'll be wearing it to dinner tonight.
Love, Mimi xxx


  1. Since you and I have come from a very similar era our thoughts are likely to be in synch and I am totally with you on this.

    For example, we had tacos and salad for dinner last night. I browned the mince, added onion flakes, powdered chilli, smoky paprika, freshly ground sea salt and black pepper and then about 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes. It was better than any seasoning I have ever bought in packet over the years. What was I thinking for all those years?? In fact, I had even dehydrated the onion and chillies (homegrown). :)

    1. Fairy yes. Completely in synch. Taco seasoning is a no brainer. Read the ingredients list. Simples. Same for so many things. And you dried your own onion and chilli? Impressive! Mimi xxx

  2. Mimi this is all so true. I taught for 30 years and in that time the amount of children who were being diagnosed with ADHD increased dramatically. I was wondering why this was happening? Was it because we were better at diagnosing something that had always been there? Possibly, or was it something else, some environmental factor? With the advent of the convenience foods and take away chains, there has been an enormous amount of preservatives and chemicals added to diets. Do these have something to do with the increase in ADHD?
    These are just my musings. I have only mentioned ADHD but there are so many more diseases being diagnosed in our beautiful little people. Lets take back the amount of preservatives, chemicals and colourants that we are pumping into our babes and see if there is a resulting lowering of negative diagnosis. Let's empower our babes.
    Bluey picked up some baritoes on special and cooked them up for lunch today. Hmm dont think we will be doing that again. The home made ones are so much nicer, especially when wrapped in my homemade sourdough flat bread.

    1. Jane an Australian lady by the name of Sue Dengate (Failsafe diet fame) has gone into schools and shown how much difference there is with the students when they consume non packaged foods. She has been invited in by the parents and teachers and does this for a week - they follow her eating plan and the difference with the children is amazing.


    2. Jane, I agree and this is a truly disturbing development. I have a lifelong friend whose only daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of four, going back when the idea was fairly new. What amazed me, was that this child had been having Coca-Cola in her bottle from about 6 months old, and was fed a steady diet of KFC from around that time onwards. My sister and I stood by and watched and despaired, as she's a smarter woman than that. But that as her way of showing love. And therein lays part of the problem I think. We've been led up the garden path. Advertising makes us think that feeding our family from outside the home, makes us better partners and parents, and means we love them more. NO, no, no. How can that be? Yes, diminish processed food, chemicals, preservative, colourants, and bring the experience of the family meal back to the home turf, and I'm sure many childrens challenges would diminish enormously. I'm sorry your burritos were a disappointment too. I've done that and vowed never again. We live and learn even with our experience, right? Love, Mimi xxx

    3. And Lynette, you are spot on. Mimi xxx

  3. Dear Mimi, What a wonderful post. My husband likes tinned spaghetti on occasions and he has been lamenting how it is all filled with sauce, I have never thought of making them. Thank you for the recipe and the thought provoking posts. Best wishes Lyn

    1. Lyn, I hope he loves this then! Mimi xxx

  4. Dear Mimi, once again, great post and much food for thought. Cheers Clare T

    1. Thankyou Clare. You always encourage me :) Mimi xxx

  5. Mimi, you have summed up what has been lost over the past 2 generations. In the effort to get woman out of the kitchen and into paid roles, the family relied on an fast or convenient food. This liberation from the house has come at a cost. These old skills are not lost and I hope the choice of being a stay at home homemaker in the future will increase in value.

    1. Erin, exactly, yes. Liberation from one challenge, presents a multitude of other challenges. There is no 'get out of jail free' card, right? We can all contribute. We can be the movement that slowly brings the scales back into balance. Mimi xxx

  6. Love your blog Mimi and this is my favourite series of yours. I totally agree with you. I am trying harder to grow more things, use the car less and eat less processed foods. It's everywhere, that it sometimes feels like one is swimming upstream; but it is worth it. Thank you for your encouragement. Lots of love, Bridge

    1. Bridge, you're doing brilliantly. Just the awareness is a beginning from which you can build and improve. I know it can be hard to be the lone guppy swimming against the tide, but you get to my age, and look back, and know it was worth it. I promise. Mimi xxx

  7. What a wonderful post with lots of good ideas. We live 1 mile from the kids' school, and are on the furthest border of the school boundaries. In other words, almost every child at that school lives closer than we do. And yet, so many people drive their kids that the traffic at drop off and pick up is a nightmare! I have one friend who arrives at pick up 30 minutes early so she can get a spot to sit in her car and wait. It is actually faster for me to walk, and my kids get a nice way to stretch their legs after sitting so long. There are so many elements of modern life like this that people don't even question if what they are doing makes sense.

    1. Thankyou Leigh. Yes the school pickup drop-off zones are always a nightmare. And some of those families live mere minutes away. You have to wonder. We forget to actually THINK sometimes. Good on you for being the clever one. Mimi xxx

  8. Well my lovely you hit the big ugly rusty nail on the head. Everything you say and have been saying is the truth, I used cloth nappies with all my five kids,eldest is 35 and youngest 2 are 12 I only used disposable s for going out and when they were sick , washers not wet wipes. It's crazy how much has changed , I feel like we have become slaves to stupidity,bottled water and takeaway coffee, don't even get me started, the poverty it causes, and it does. Thanks Mimi.

    1. Cassandra, what amazed me, was that few, if any, considered cloth nappies to be a genuine alternative. There was complete ignorance on how to make a cloth nappy 'work', or how to clean it afterwards. I was a bit gobsmacked. I remember taking enormous pleasure and pride in making my babies nappies and washcloths match. It was actually fun. Washing them was a small task. And baby didn't sit in wet nappies. I don't care how much the 'moisture is drawn away', we women all know from our use of sanitary items, that it's still blessed uncomfortable going. Sheesh. Poor babies. A disposable nappy is not an excuse to leave your little one sitting in sopping wet for hours on end. And yet I see that too. It makes no sense. And oh my goodness, the takeaway coffee and bottled water?? What the absolute heck, right? AAAArghhh...Mimi xxx

    2. Mimi, my brother has sworn for years that we're slowly embalming ourselves with processed foods. I used to laugh at that, but I'm beginning to think that he might be right.Yikes!

    3. Debby I'm with your brother! Mimi xxx

  9. Oh gosh, I love your post, even if I do feel like I need a translator sometimes (Australian English and Metrics vs. American English and whatever we call our system that isn't metric!)
    Anyway, I just wanted to add that I never, ever soak beans. I used to just pop them in the slowcooker overnight (though I have since learned that this is okay for all beans except kidney, as it needs a higher temp) but now I use my Instant Pot: beans from bag-to-cooked in less than an hour, including pressure release time! I highly recommend this getting an electric pressure cooker!

    1. Thanks for the tip Veggie Mom. And I apologies re the metric measures. It is a bit brain bending converting them! Thankyou for your lovely comment. I really appreciate the feedback. Mimi xxx

    2. Veggie mum, I just thought I’d mention that there’s lots of evidence that soaking beans first breaks down the antinutrients, particularly phytates and enzyme inhibitors – which detract from their nutritional value. I just bought an electric pressure/multi cooker and I agree with you, they’re totally fab.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx