A friend and I were talking about all of the books and blogs and articles we had recently encountered whose subject was that elusive thing called simplicity. Food, we decided, must be one of the cornerstones of the so-called simple life.

“But, why?” my friend burst out. “Why does it always sound so complicated?”

***

Like me, you’ve probably seen the documentaries. You’ve read the books.

You know that farmers and animals – indeed the whole beautiful earth – pay a high price for keeping our bellies full, our fast food fast, and our cheap food cheap. You know that we all pay that price with our health.

Eating with simplicity is one solution. Perhaps, even, the only long-term solution. In other words, eating real food we prepare ourselves from local or otherwise sustainable sources.

Yet somehow I have never found this knowledge very inspiring. If I think about those documentaries at five pm on a weekday, while my hungry children swarm like flies, it is usually with guilt. Not joy.

Why is it that the food choice that would seem to be one of the simplest for me, a drive-through burger and fries, is actually the antithesis of the simple life?

***

Food is God’s gift to us. It is one of the first gifts he gave. It is both astonishing, like wine, and utterly mundane, like bread. Is it any wonder the church remembers Christ at a table?

And yet it lies within our power to diminish the gift of food.

The blessing of food is at its fullest when it blesses the one who eats it, the one who prepares it, the one who harvests it, the one who grows it, and even the earth which sustains it. The food from the drive-through may be a blessing to the busy mom, but the blessing ends there.

There is grace for that busy mom, and I am myself that mom, more often than I like to admit. But my prayer is that God helps me to live in such a way that I can receive the full blessing of food more and more often.

My prayer is that, more and more often, I can release that blessing back into the world.

Food is a gift_GT

***

Eating with simplicity is not simple. Frankly, it can be a bit of a hassle.

It begins when we say “No.”

We say no to fast food. To pesticides. To processed chemicals. To out-of-season fruit flown half-way around the world. We say no to overeating and no to consuming special treats as if they were our daily bread.

But after no comes yes.

Yes to the warmest and ripest strawberries from that farmstand in June. Yes to the casserole prepared, with love, by our neighbor. Yes to eggs from chickens we raised ourselves and yes to taking our kids to the local ice cream shop on a Friday night in August.

Yes to the ease of beans and rice. Yes to the complicated birthday cake that tasted so much better than it looked.

Yes to rich stock made with scraps we once threw away. Yes to buttered noodles when the shelves are suddenly bare.

Yes to apples in September and asparagus in April.

We say yes so often and with so much joy we hardly remember all the nos with which we began.

Yes, we say, yes, we say, and again we say, yes.

***

One of the simple eating pleasures in our family is homemade yogurt. It blesses our budget, our bodies, our local dairy farmer, and our taste buds, especially when we stir in a little homemade strawberry freezer jam.

You can find many online and published sources for yogurt making. My own version is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila.

I use an inexpensive yogurt maker because I love the little individual glass jars, but if you are really committed to keeping it simple, you can find directions online for keeping your yogurt at low heat in a crockpot or in towel-wrapped mason jars.

Simple Homemade Yogurt
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Ingredients
  1. 4 1/2 cups whole milk, not ultra-pasteurized
  2. 1/2 cup full-fat, plain yogurt, store-bought or saved from a previous batch
Instructions
  1. Let one ice cube melt in a heavy saucepan. This cold layer will help prevent your milk from scalding in the pan while it cooks.
  2. Once the ice has melted, add milk and place pan over medium heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat when milk reaches 180 degrees. Chill pot in a bowl of ice water.
  3. When milk has cooled to 110 degrees, remove one cup milk and mix with yogurt. Return yogurt/milk mixture to pot and whisk well.
  4. Pour mixture into glass jars and heat in a yogurt maker for 5-6 hours. Once the yogurt has set and tastes tangy, chill completely.
  5. Enjoy with a swirl of jam or honey.
Adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
Adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Christie Purifoy / Posts / Blog
Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for an old farmhouse and a garden. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four children, where she is witness to the seasonal beauty of God's good creation. Her book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons is out now from Revell. She blogs at www.christiepurifoy.com
  • Diane Klettke
    http://www.inlightofthis.net

    Beautifully said.
    Without a “no,” “yes” loses meaning. Even in the Garden of Eden, there was a “no” – and sadly, we still don’t know how to say no. God wants to bless us through the “yeses.”

    August 18th, 2015 2:22
    Reply
    01
    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com/

      Oh, yes, well said Diane!

      August 18th, 2015 13:26
      Reply
      02
    • Bertie
      http://zgyrqx.com

      As Charlie Sheen says, this article is “WNNIING!”

      November 6th, 2016 1:05
      Reply
      03
  • jill britz
    http://jillinthebox.net

    Funny that “no” is the beginning of everything, but it’s true.

    We began our “no” awhile back, which led to this year’s ripping up the front yard to grow as much of our own food as we could. We ordered chickens, too. Though we are novices with a newborn out the front door, the learning is as satisfying as the doing it ourselves.

    The simple life. Gift in every way.

    August 18th, 2015 14:05
    Reply
    04
    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com/

      Jill, you inspire me! Isn’t it incredible what adventure lies just beyond “no”?

      August 18th, 2015 17:48
      Reply
      05
  • SimplyDarlene
    SimplyDarlene

    interestingly, people often confuse simple with easy.

    my family lives a simple lifestyle, including a wood cookstove as our means of cooking and heating, no microwave, no pre-made meals… for me and mine, simple in the kitchen is about removing the middleman, using pure ingredients, and putting effort into a meal. it’s far from easy, but it breeds a thankfulness often overlooked in the everyday. for example, someone has to fall a tree, saw it, chop it, stack it, and then carry pieces inside all before i even light the morning fire to warm our bodies and boil water for coffee or tea.

    thanks for this article, christie. it’s a great invitation to simple!

    August 25th, 2015 13:55
    Reply
    06
  • danielle
    danielle
    http://danielleayersjones.com/

    “Eating with simplicity is not simple. Frankly, it can be a bit of a hassle.”

    Having grown up in a multi-generational farm family I know this to be true. Every year we used to take days out of our life to “put up” corn, beans, tomatoes, strawberry jam, etc. to last the whole winter. We rarely bought vegetables at all during the winter. Not everyone can do this, obviously. Not everyone has the means to grow that many vegetables in order to freeze enough for an entire winter or the time to preserve it if they bought it from a farmer.
    Truth be told I struggle with the “balance” of it all. There’s that word: balance. I love gardening and farming and it runs through my veins but I also know it can be a cruel task master and how the women worked all day to make meal after homemade meal and then put up food for other months in-between with no time for rest or pursuing other passions. So I give myself grace for the in-between. Grace for making the homemade but grace for the store-bought too. Maybe instead of balance it’s the in-between I’m after?

    Such a lovely thought-provoking article and I’ve often wanted to try to make homemade yogurt but have never tired.

    August 25th, 2015 16:47
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    07
    • Helene
      http://oviudh.com

      Santi, gracias por tu comentario y por tu paiiicrpactón. Nos alegramos de que disfrutaras de la carrera, a pesar de que, como dices, la lluvia deslució un poco la jornada. A lo largo del día de hoy, colgaremos alguna fofo en esta página y en nuestro Facebook. Permanece atento. Un saludo

      November 5th, 2016 13:12
      Reply
      08
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      November 13th, 2016 15:11
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      November 14th, 2016 16:29
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      Now I know who the brainy one is, I’ll keep looking for your posts.

      January 25th, 2017 9:27
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      April 23rd, 2017 14:22
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