The problem with being (or even attempting to be) self-sufficient, is that there really isn’t an opportunity to have a day off. There is always something needs doing, someone needs feeding, ministering to. If it isn’t an army of weeds trying to stage a coup in the veg garden, it’s a mountain of veg waiting to be picked, dried, frozen or otherwise preserved. It’s a good life, but it’s a busy one.

Once a week, on a Saturday night, I get a night off. On Saturdays the apprentice cooks me dinner. She is becoming quite an accomplished little cook, and is widening her repertoire all the time.

This gives me satisfaction on so many levels.

First and foremost, I am confident that I am raising a human being who, when she is released into the wild, will be able to provide more for herself than a tin of beans. Whether she leaves home to go to university, to a home of her own, or into marriage, I know that she will be able to put good food on the table with confidence.

Second, she is learning one of the most important lessons in home economics – not EVERY meal has to be a huge production. Sometimes bangers and mash or egg and chips is just fine. But by the same token, when the time is available, it is FUN to go into the kitchen and produce a feast “just because you can.”

Thirdly, which goes hand in hand with the self-sufficient lifestyle really, she is not scared of “real food”. If you show her a bag of potatoes and a chicken, she can get them to the table in an edible form – she doesn’t panic and immediately reach for a pot of noodles.

And she is developing the self-esteem which goes hand in hand with knowing, beyond doubt, that you are making a valuable contribution to your home environment. She is still of an age where I need to be in attendance in the kitchen for safety sake – sometimes a pan of hot water needs lifting or suchlike. But she knows that I really cherish sitting down to a meal that she has cooked. Sometimes, if what she is cooking is simple, she will shoo me out of the kitchen to “put my feet up” just because she likes to treat me 🙂

So tonight, as I sat down to chicken schnitzel, cooked from scratch by my 9yo, it felt like a celebration meal – a celebration of all that the apprentice is growing into – and THAT’S worth celebrating 🙂

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