I want to write a bit about the philosophy behind Happy Pantry and the thinking that goes into my recipes. I’ll start with my childhood.
Growing up, I was fortunate to eat extremely well. My parents are massive foodies. We lived (they still do) on a double section in the middle of town. Both of my parents are passionate gardeners. The food we ate was lush. Everything was home-made. We ate a lot of vegetables. Stuff was prepared with love. I was well acquainted with the likes of freshly baked bread. In the summer, grape juice would bubble away on the stove and fill the kitchen with the most delightful aroma – grapes from our backyard. It was a tradition to pick litres of berries each summer and I longed for the drive out into the country where we went picking. We lived by the seasons. We preserved. We made jam. In the winter we ate from the freezer what we had saved in the summer. We ate together and meals were always special. I’m quite sure that our barbecues are a little bit famous. To me, this is really the epitome of good eating. But in saying all of that, we also ate white flour. There was white sugar in our home-made biscuits. We ate so much cheese. We drank dairy. We ate meat. We ate pasta (home-made too). And herein lies a problem, because by today’s standards, that isn’t healthy.
So what’s a girl to do? The thing is, I don’t buy it. Yes, sugar is not good for anyone and it is one of the most addictive substances on the planet and my God do we consume A LOT as a civilization. Right now I’m whipping up some sugary pancakes made with, you guessed it, wheat flour. Save me. I know that pancakes are not a healthy breakfast. But I also know that I don’t eat pancakes all of the time. And I know that home-made pancakes made with banana and wholemeal flour are better than a box of coco pops. So what am I getting at here? I’m getting at the middle-ground. Because to me, a die-hard foodie, there HAS to be something in between MacDonald’s and eating sugar free. There has to be something in between not-good-for-you and extremely-strict-diet. And that in-between is Happy Pantry. I am not vegan, or paleo, or refined-sugar free. I am also not against any of those things and enjoy learning about them and sampling their lifestyles. The thing is, life is busy all the time. Good food needs to be accessible and satisfying. And good food is about other things to me: its about variety, its about home-made, its about knowing where your food comes from and learning how to grow things, its about enjoying the process, its about sharing and cooking together and eating together.
I love food. Gosh I love it. My favourite aspect of food is the learning. And I am constantly learning. I say that cooking is a learning curve and that is also that backbone of this blog. So I try to make recipes that are good for you in lots of ways but not necessarily adhering to any strict diet or current trend. I try to constantly learn about new foods and new ways of cooking. I try to make things that are healthier. But I still eat meat, occasionally and flour and cheese and yes, sugar (but maybe a bit less). I think it is SO great that as a society we’re constantly trying new ways to eat because we do have to eat, every day. We survive solely on the food we put in our mouths so I’m SO PLEASED that people are really invested in trying to figure out better ways to eat. This year, thanks to the blog, I’ve loved learning more about vegetarian food. I’ve loved opening my eyes to new grains.
So my philosophy diet way-of-life is not necessarily any particular diet: it’s about learning. On this blog you will see the entire spectrum of food, from healthy to indulgent, veg to meat and so on. I think that as long as you are constantly opening your mind to new ways of trying things then you’re on the right track! So my recipes fall into this category, not any special category. When I create recipes I want them to be delicious and simple. In addition, I’m always trying to think about how I can make them a bit healthier and more substantial. For example, my recent biscuit recipe that I made to be less of a sugar-hit and more of a pick-me-up-and-sustain-me snack. The other aspect of this is that I know that in NZ, there are a lot of people who don’t eat well because they can’t afford to – they don’t know that is possible to eat really well, cheaply. And so I want Happy Pantry to be a place of accessibility, for foodies and non-foodies alike. Because we all deserve to eat well and to enjoy food and to get the most from food. Food shouldn’t be difficult or a point of stress. It should be fun (at least most of the time). I wish I could sum all of this up in a few brief words, but it turns out that food is a complex subject. It could be debated, researched, written about, discussed and mulled over for days. I guess, in short, I strive for a happy pantry and my goal here is to share a way of cooking and eating with happiness at the centre. Thank you for reading (if you made it this far).