The Simple Life: Variety Isn’t Mandatory

The garden is a place of beauty in many ways; we enjoy walking through what we call, “The King’s Garden,” and watching the changes and growth from day to day. Promenade, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

The Norwegian Artist is the simplest man on the planet to feed:

As long as the food tastes good, he eats it, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the same menu of yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. He reminds me a bit of our Siamese Cat, Mia, who given the choice between commercial cat food and baked halibut, chooses the cat food, every time.

Okay, so he’s not quite on the level of the cat, but the lack of fussiness in a family diner is a relief to the cook, who 1) sometimes doesn’t have a lot of time to come up with creative alternatives and 2) has a LOT of potatoes. One of the fastest, easiest, tastiest dishes I rely upon is Yukon Gold French Fries, with Kale That’s Worth Eating and either Simple Breaded Chicken or baked salmon on the side.

It Was Good the First Time

From the Norwegian’s standpoint, these dishes were delicious the first time he ate them, and subsequent appearances do not diminish the quality. Like me, he knows that we have boxes of organic potatoes we grew last year in the garden; a freezer full of wild Alaskan salmon caught by our Son and Heir; and a stand of brave, valiant, still living kale plants. When I make this meal, it is essentially free, and that means something to both of us.

“What would be the sense of buying food when we already have food — very good, organic food that would cost a lot in the stores — in our freezer and on our land?”  The Norwegian reasons. I really, really like this man.

Variety Is One, Optional, Aspect of Life

Be creative in how you approach variety — you can have the same item, or person, presented in many different ways. An Unforeseen Encounter, original oil painting, signed limited edition print, and poster by Steve Henderson.

Well, Variety Is the Spice of Life, they say. No, I’ll stay with my Norwegian, and the potatoes, while they’re abundant. As with many things that “they” say, it’s clever and all, and I can’t help wondering if it weren’t coined by advertisers out to sell us something. In the spirit of it, however, we do shake up the taters on the table:

Some days I sprinkle turmeric, hot pepper, and garam masala on the potatoes. Other days I serve them with a simple sauce. Still others I toss them in with the kale, a whole lot of exotic spices like cinnamon and green cardamom and coriander, and create a jumble. Same ingredients, different format, still free.

We’re using what we’ve got, you see, which is a basic principle of living simply and saving money, two concepts that can go hand in hand if we let them. In exchange for a radically different meal each night, we’re staying out of the grocery store, using our own storage centers as our primary place to shop. It’s not such an odd concept, and for most of history, in many cultures, it was — and still is, in some places — a way of life.

Good Food Is Good Food

Good food is still good food, even if you’ve experienced this menu before. Indeed, many people make a regular diet of boxed orange pasta product and hamburger-resembling-concoctions tucked into cardboard boxes. Day after day after day, and nobody finds that strange.

Seek simplicity and beauty in your life. They pay rich dividends. Light in the Forest, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

As with any aspect of simple living, you make a game out of it, determining what small change you will make tonight to make the potatoes different somehow, or the kale dressed in a slightly different little black dress. Switching out the meat — from chicken to salmon to breaded burger — is often radical enough.

And as the weeks wear on and the supply of potatoes decreases, we pull out the seed catalogs and plan next spring’s grocery list, recognizing that, in a short time, potatoes and kale will be replaced by lettuce, radishes, and spinach, which we will enjoy until later summer, when zucchini and tomatoes and peppers grab center stage. And we’ll still be eating well, spending remarkably little money.

Such is the simple life. It’s worth pursuing.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I address the Simple Life and Financial Freedom on Fridays. You can find my Recipes column on Tuesdays.

You know, when you save money in one place, you can enjoy it in another, say, with a piece of original or licensed fine art from my Norwegian Artist. Whatever it is that you want, you can frequently get it if you set funds aside by not spending them elsewhere (In the case of the Norwegian’s original art, we set up interest-free payment plans.)

I talk about living well, simply, in my book, Live Happily on Less, a series of easygoing essays that encourage you to make small, simple, sustainable changes in your lifestyle, so that you can make the most of what you have.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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