Tukee Talk Leah Derewicz

A few years ago a friend of mine told me that she believed the problems our country has had with a struggling economy was a very good thing — now I will admit to being a little shocked by her comment.

The national news media lives for “selling” negative news stories, for some people, seeing the negativity of life is what they live for — not me, I prefer the positive side of life. But her comment shook me, until I realized that I was already doing all the things she was talking about — getting back to our roots.

The more my friend and I talked about why our country “needed” to struggle was interesting, she was telling me that people would have to learn more basic skills, getting in touch with nature, more “do-it-yourself” projects and the pride that those skills provide a person.

If a person’s budget was tighter, they wouldn’t be able to go out to restaurants as much, they might not be able to buy all the organic meat and produce that they normally eat, they might not be able to afford the weekly landscaper who has kept their lawn in picture-perfect shape — but if these are things they really like to do, there are ways to learn — like my friend said, “Back to Basics.”

Do you cook? I enjoy cooking — although having a night off every once in a while is great. I learned how to cook at an early age, I was in 4-H from the time I was 8 years old — cooking was a project I always brought to the fair. I am also fortunate to come from a long line of wonderful cooks, my mom and grandmothers taught me all about how to cook and I still use their recipes every week. I am NOT a gourmet cook, just basic Midwestern comfort food, I guess.

As I was thinking about this column, I wondered, how do kids learn how to cook? Will they learn how to cook? When I was in school, both the boys and girls were required to take a home economics course, we all learned how to make homemade macaroni and cheese.

My oldest brother took a “Bachelor Survival” course in high school, can you imagine the home economics teacher with a roomful of high school boys teaching them how to cook, sew on a button, sew a tie (yes, they had to make a tie) and other household skills to help them once they moved away from home?

She had a great time teaching them. I did notice on the Mountain Pointe High School website that they offer culinary classes, which I think is great. I have another friend whose kids cook once a week, they are required to find a recipe or plan a meal, tell their mom what she needs to purchase for groceries, and the kids prepare the meal. What a fantastic idea, teaching kids how to cook.

When it comes to cooking, is there anything better than using fresh produce from your own garden? My mother and grandmothers always had huge gardens back in Minnesota, I love having a garden. From the time I have owned a home, I have always had a garden.

Some years the garden production is better than others, but I enjoy planting, watering and harvesting the produce. My boys have helped me with garden work since they were old enough to dig in the dirt.

It is my belief that having a garden is good for your health, the food is full of flavor and vitamins, working the soil is good for your muscles and your mind just relaxes. This year my boys wanted their OWN garden, so I built them a cinder block garden where they are growing cilantro, basil, peppermint, rosemary and pole beans.

If you are unsure how to start a backyard garden, contact the Maricopa County Extension Office, there are plenty of classes to learn how. I enjoy working outside, the fresh air, the sunshine, the quiet — it is all very relaxing to me. So it goes without saying, I take care of our landscaping. I have taught the boys how to trim the bushes and they help me all the time. It is work and it isn’t perfect, but it is teaching the boys that if you are going to own a home, it is your responsibilities to take care of it. Teaching kids responsibility.

Since my friend made the comment about people going “back to basics,” I’ve noticed online more recipes for making homemade laundry soap, homemade dishwashing soap, more gardening classes. Right here in Ahwatukee Foothills, we now have a community garden. I agree with my friend, I believe that the USA economic struggles have also had some positive points; the citizens of America are resourceful and resilient.

• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at mom@hanginwithmyboyz.me.

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