Tag Archives: Cooking

Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker – Part 4

In Part 3 we learned that we can look at the home as an organic unity, and as such we can perceive the same four members of the human being in the household as well. Let’s begin to look at these members in greater depth, with the realm of the physical from page 18.*



Three kinds of matter dominate in the household: food, textiles, and the solid materials such as wood, glass, and stone.


The modern relationship to food has become overly materialistic: we concern ourselves solely with the nutritional content without paying much attention to the growth processes or the affect of our cooking methods. If we believe that there are aspects of reality that are not normally sense perceptible, then why do we focus so much on the supposed constituent parts (vitamins, minerals, etc.) of our food and not the organisms and processes as a whole? A microwave certainly heats up our food, but what else might it be doing that our senses cannot tell us? Similarly, food grown with chemical fertilizers might seem the same as organic or biodynamic food, but are its life forces really the same? Might we be missing the forest for the trees — the organic unity of the food for isolated nutritional measurements?

Cooking was once an art — a humanization of matter, and truly an etheric/alchemical process. Food preparation is one place where the homemaker can easily bring in an artistic feeling into the home, simply by the food and cooking choices made.


Textiles have traditionally been formed from products of the plant and animal kingdoms, and can also be seen in relation to the four members. I will give you an imaginative picture of why each material is connected with its respective member:

cotton — physical (Cotton grows from a shrub, low to the ground, in hot, dry climates. It is close to the earth.)

linen — etheric (The flax plant must be retted, or soaked in water, before it can be spun into linen. Water is a symbol of the etheric realm.)

wool — astral (The animal kingdom symbolizes the astral or soul/consciousness realm.)

silk — ego (Perhaps we could connect the silkworm moth, whose sole food is the leaf of the tall mulberry tree, with the spirit flying high?)

Solid Materials

Though many anthroposophists eschew certain materials in their homes, there is no real right or wrong. Whether the homemaker chooses wood and stone or glass and chrome, the choice reflects the individual. The important thing is to pursue balance.

An important question to ask in the choice of materials is what happens when we surround ourselves with “false” materials. Is there a qualitative difference between a solid wood shelf and one made of particle board and veneer? Can we create a “humanized” home if we are surrounded by plastic — from polyethylene storage containers to polyester textiles made from petroleum? Perhaps other aspects of the home are more important in our efforts to enliven and support our families, but I think it’s still useful to consider even the materials in our surroundings.

Next time we’ll look at the etheric realm and how it manifests in the home.


* The text puts the physical realm at the end of this section, so we will skip back to page 13 next time.

Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Temple Lodge, 1996.

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Filed under Anthroposophy, Books, Deep Thoughts, Food, Homemaking

O Frabjous Day!

O, blessed day! Oh day of cleaning and crafting and cooking! Oh, no turkey leftovers!

Wait, that last one’s not so good. Darn.

I boiled some newspapers that the kids had gladly ripped into tiny shreds. The goal is papier mache pulp. Right now I have a steaming pot of gray pulpy stuff with blackish bits floating in tan water. Right, Christmas presents ho! I have all confidence that said ugly stuff will transform into items of delight. At some point.

Anthropapa and I went on a mini cleaning spree, in anticipation of holiday decorating. Amazing what a few minutes of focused attention will achieve, when one has previously taken to simply gazing around in consternation and giving up. Meanwhile the kids played outside for several hours, at one point playing hide and seek with some neighbor kids. Love that!

I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Recipe here. They are the bomb. Hard to go wrong with butter, sugar, flour and chocolate. With pumpkin.

On another, less frabjous note — as I was writing this, Napoleona slipped on the kitchen floor and split open the underside of her upper lip, up where the lip turns into gum. Ow. And nothing for it except an ice pack, and perhaps some weak sage tea rinse later.

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Filed under Crafting, Family, Food, holidays, Napoleona, papa, play, Silliness and Mayhem

Homeschool Days

SillyBilly’s school was closed today, yesterday he was off of school for a dentist’s appointment, and he will have the entire next week off too (teacher conferences and inservices). So, I’ve been thinking of this as a temporary homeschooling opportunity.

We’ve been taking walks:

Today was very cold and cloudy. There is a dusting of snow on the mountains to the south. SillyBilly was prospecting for rocks; he’s holding a rock, his toilet-paper-tube binoculars, and a construction paper pouch he made to hold treasures. We brought home several large rocks, which he scrubbed clean in the sink and then investigated thoroughly. I think the boy needs a book about minerals for Christmas!

We’ve been playing with masks:

This one was a cutout from the latest issue of Ladybug magazine, to go with a seasonal story about a snowshoe hare. For some reason, our cats totally freaked out over the kids wearing this mask. Puffy tails, arched backs, even hissing. We think they thought the kids were turning into some sort of large animal, yet still smelled the same, and the cats’ tiny brains just couldn’t handle it.

We’ve been making a new nature table:

SillyBilly did this one all by himself. We found a cool arch of bark on a walk, and he made it into a gnome’s cave, complete with hanging doorbell, mushroom garden, and a mossy bed.

We’ve been cooking:

SillyBilly made lunch for us today. And he did it all: choosing and preparing the food, the beautiful presentation, and setting the table. I especially liked the celery leaf garnish atop the sandwiches. He also helped make apple cranberry crisp for dessert tonight.

We’ve been sewing:

He wanted to make the cats a treat, so we hand sewed  a little square and filled it with catnip. Above you see the cat playing with his new lovey, the catnip pouch. Here’s the cat in his normal state:

And here’s the cat in post-drug use torpor (note the glazed look in his eyes. Of course the cat’s 14 years old, so he often looks like this anyway). SillyBilly also made this little “house” for the cats from a box and some play cloths:

And we’ve been taking pictures (obviously):

I let SillyBilly use my camera as he’s shown that he can be careful with it, and remember how to use it, and because he pesters me often enough. He ran around the house taking shots of random things. I praised him for this one’s nice composition (my nightstand — pardon the mess!) He also took a picture of me knitting, but I can’t share it as I was making a super-secret Christmas present.

We’ve also been reading a lot. Both SillyBilly and Napoleona are on the cusp of reading — sounding out lots of words, figuring out how words are spelled all on their own, and recognizing short words on the page. They’ve also been enjoying spouting math facts: I heard Napoleona say quite loudly “Five and five and one are ELEVEN!” while using the toilet tonight. She’s four years old. I’m scared!

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Filed under Crafting, Family, Food, Kid Talk, Napoleona, Nature tables, Parenting, play, School, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

I Gave the Boy a Bellyache

I got kinda crazy last night and cooked artichokes. The crazy part was the garlic mayonnaise I made, which had a bit too much garlic. (Though Anthropapa claims that’s almost an oxymoron. Never too much, he says.) The kids really enjoyed the novelty of the artichokes–they watched me trim and prepare them, and loved that they were eating a big thistle flower. But I think SillyBilly’s tummy didn’t do too well with the amount of garlic he ate.

Then today I redeemed myself in SillyBilly’s eyes by allowing him to concoct a snack of mushed up banana, a dab of coconut oil, some raisins, and a drop of molasses. He called it “baby food” and ate it all up.

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Filed under Food, papa, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

American Food

Recently DomesticallyBlissed mentioned in her comment on one of my posts that “its funny how I imagine these funny American foods to taste.”

I realized that today was an all-American food day, at least part of each meal, so…for the edification of my international readers:

Breakfast: Fried eggs and toast with scrapple. Scrapple is an American breakfast food from the mid-Atlantic region. My father-in-law introduced me to it (though he’s a New Englander), and we all love it. It sounds kind of terrible, as most sausages, liverwursts, and other things made with scraps do, but it’s quite tasty. The only thing a bit odd is the texture: it’s essentially a fried cornmeal-with-minced-pork mush, so the outside gets crispy when fried, but the inside is still mush.

Lunch: Arugula salads and hot dogs, with ice cream for dessert. What could be the more quintessential American food than the hot dog? (Not the arugula salad, of course, but we were feeling the need for some veggies by that point!) Anthropapa likes his with mayonnaise, while I like ketchup. Can you have American food without one of those condiments? Possibly not. And while residents of other countries eat their fair share of ice cream, they probably didn’t have New York Jets Sundae Blitz!

Dinner: I can’t believe I made a tuna casserole. (Please note this delightful sentence from the link: “Tuna casserole is remarkable in that it can be prepared using no fresh ingredients whatsoever.” Lovely.) I used the Betty Crocker recipe, substituting whole wheat pasta and added frozen vegetables and curry powder, and without pimentos. Tuna casserole is a very common, old-fashioned American recipe, one of many known as a “hotdish” in the Midwest. Sometimes people put bread crumbs, or crushed potato chips, or even Chex® on top, for God’s sake. I just put Parmesan cheese. (A very close relative of this recipe is the ubiquitous green bean casserole, made from green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and canned fried onions on top. It’s like Americans like to take a nutritious green vegetable and render it nutrition-free through thorough soaking in questionable sauce. I guess that’s what you get when the Campbell’s Soup Company creates recipes.)

Apologies to my vegetarian and raw-foods-eating readers. It was a processed meat kind of day here.

* * * * *

Photo by CptCapacitor.


Filed under Family, Food, Silliness and Mayhem

Homemade Yummy Update

A few days ago I shared the delightful discovery of a recipe for homemade Magic Shell®. I have good news to report.

This stuff rocks!

I used about 8 DOVE® Dark Chocolate Miniatures, the chocolate I had on hand. That worked out to be about 1/3 cup, or two rather large adult servings. (I noticed the ice cream container’s nutritional information was based on a 1/2 cup serving. Who are they kidding?) I used approximately a half of a 1/3 cup measure of Nutiva extra-virgin coconut oil.

I melted them together in a double boiler with a pinch of salt, then poured the result on top of some tin roof sundae ice cream. It hardened right away, even being still warm from the pan. We ate it all up.

It was definitely a bit coconut flavored. So if you don’t like that, you might want to use refined coconut oil. Also it was significantly thinner than the store version. Not sure what I’d use to thicken it. Maybe arrowroot or kuzu? (Darn…when Anthropapa did special effects for film, we had several jars of alginate laying around…that might have worked!

So, do try it, and stay away from the funky ingredients in the store version. (Do you really want to eat mono and diglycerides, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or micro-crystalline stearine? Me neither.)


Filed under Food