Are our manners based on Cooking? The Kitchen was once the most important room in the home.

With or without us change occurs, sometimes it is completely unnoticed and other times it causes catastrophic results. Weather changes with no encouragement from humans as do tides and other natural processes. Still, others are induced by ourselves to better our lives, make something easier, or merely for a change of pace.


The first day of January I executed changes in my online presence, I closed up my e-commerce web site, I had 40 million competitors the niche is packed. I also stopped most of my social media interactions, basically cleaning up my act, it was becoming just too cumbersome and uninteresting. My decision was and remains to concentrate on my blog, a change in my blogging platform was a breath of fresh air as well.

That was a good move to make, the new platform is more of a community (WordPress) making it easy to interact with other bloggers. Adding more pages is another advantage, one I was searching for prior to my change. The goal beginning the first of the year was to add another blog, I was hoping to team up with my wife but her enthusiasm does not drive her in that direction. I was thinking of a question and answer blog pertaining to real estate, she has been in the business for 30 some years and is knowledgeable.

I was met with indifference and I understand why she is busy as a caretaker for her mom (97 years old) and as a semi-pro dancer, every other week she babysits our grand-daughter for 3 days. I accept those as actual reasons why she doesn’t have the time, so I yielded.

Picking up the needle and setting it in another groove I wanted to pursue something more in the form of a blog. I came up with a new idea (to me) I’m sure it is not original as there are not very many original ideas so I have an old idea that just needs a new twist. I came up with the idea from two directions, one was from medium of which I belong, it’s a wealth of reading material. I read an article on recipes, Jello recipes to be more explicit. I didn’t give it much thought until I was in the bookcase and noticed a bunch of old, real old cookbooks. Reading through them was interesting, the ingredients that were used and what they ate in the “Olden Days” is an eye-opener. I’m not much of a cook, my experience is as a “camp cook”, beans, bar-b-que, and simple no thought foods.

I bet these guy’s are great cooks.

My wife, on the other hand, is an excellent cook she is able to conjure a great meal from nothing. Enlisting her help, together we came up with some good ideas and strategies for continuing. The initial plan was to pick out one recipe a week and prepare it, photos, videos, the whole ball of wax. The agreement was short lived after I added: “I think it will be fun to do together.” She has decided to be a silent partner, more than willing to offer advice as long as it doesn’t include cleaning up messes in the kitchen.

I will continue with this plan, I’m sure as with most everything else the learning curve will take several months for me. I have the subject matter, to think about it there is an almost endless number of recipes to refer to. Recipes cannot be copyrighted, they are merely a list of ingredients accompanied by a photo and short description. As long as those are not used the recipe can be.

Recipes used by resturants are proprietory however and the penalties for using them can be substantial.

The base for the new blog to be posted once a week is recipes from before 1943, the era of lard and Jello, with a lot of preparation involved. They are interesting, it’s like reading a history book plus the handwritten notes on the margins. Some of the older ones explain how to prepare the wood stove for baking and rendering fat to make into lard.

Some of the books include instructions on how to make lye, soap, and candles, these are some old time-worn books. Some are surprising recipes such as how to make coffee, as common as it is during this day and age at the turn of the century (1900) not everyone made it at home. Setting the table up for a buffet is another activity that was thought to be important.

That’s another point that stuck out to me, the properness of it all, not just the contents but the way they are written, the sketches, and notes on the pages. Protocol and proper manners are covered as well, how to set a table for dinner takes three pages and covers every aspect of it. There is a lot of material in those books, not just recipes but instructions on life, it’s something we’re missing. That long ago society was nowhere near in your face as we are now 100 years later.

Maybe that’s where politeness and manners are based, in the kitchen, I know mine sure are. The words “what do you need?” when I enter her kitchen in my wheelchair are actually an eviction notice. “I’ll get it for you,” normally follows closely behind after I am tossed out on my ear. Kitchens were and for some of us remain the space that is ruled by the person doing the cooking. A good thing about it is it not only the lady of the house is responsible for the preparing and clean up, but more men are wearing the aprons now. In my book that’s a good thing, it shouldn’t be regimented to a single person unless like our house where a very tight ship is run.

Some of the recipes include more than just mom in the kitchen slaving away over a hot wood stove on a stifling summer’s day, the children joined in the activity as well. A chicken dinner is a good example, the stove needed wood, the chicken had to be caught and prepared, vegetables were obtained from the garden, and everything had to be either peeled, plucked, or picked. Sunday dinner had an entirely different meaning back then, going out to eat after church was unheard of, the family had to get home to prepare supper.

I have a long row to hoe and it will be interesting and fun, becoming wildly successful is not my goal as I’m always more interested in the process of making things work. I must admit if I can think of a new angle to present it there is a chance this new adventure may be the one in 100 million to go viral. Maybe the videos will help, but it’s got to be more than that. I’m not sure when the new blog will be ready to post, the basics are in place now it’s up to me to dream up a new way to present old content, change is good.

Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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