January is the season of simplicity. After an indulgent holiday rush, this is the period when everyone seems to reel it in a bit. People spend less. People eat less. People go out less. People booze less. It is a time for streamlining and getting back to the basics. I like to think of it as a sort of conscious, healthful easing in to these next twelve months.
Recently, we’ve had the luxury of being home a lot (well, a lot for us, anyway). Until the weather warms up again in a few weeks and people begin to abandon their New Year clean eating resolutions, we’re taking advantage of a relatively quiet period at the shop. It is a time to reflect on these last (gulp) five months, reassess our long-term goals, rid ourselves of a few short-term goals, reorganize our kitchen and storage space, reevaluate our menu and generally release as much stress as possible before a very busy spring season kicks back into gear (there are so many new pop-up events we will be taking part in, which I am dying to tell you about so very soon).
The theme of this month, at least for me, is keeping it simple, which I’ve been trying to attribute to all areas of our life. We’ve been spending less money and enjoying simple hobbies. We’ve been declining some social invitations so that we can enjoy the simple pleasure of a quiet morning spent at home instead. And, because everything in our life revolves around it, we’ve been thinking simply about our food, too.
I don’t believe in fasting, juicing or any form of extreme “cleansing” that is typical to this time of year. However, what I do believe in is eating simple, clean foods as a way of providing our systems with a much needed occasional reboot. For me, that means spending a few weeks being slightly more aware of what I put into my body, and making more of an effort to eliminate preservatives, dairy, granulated sugar and other things that (although delicious) I really do not need on my daily plate.
In addition to the food I put into my body, I also like to think about what someone else has put onto my food (i.e.: pesticides, various residues, etc.). I’ve been carrying a spray bottle of homemade fruit and vegetable wash around with me from apartment to apartment ever since I was in college. Even when I buy organic produce, I like to give it a good soak or spritz with this wash before tossing it into a bowl or a pan.
While there are a lot of opinions out there about the effectiveness of produce sprays and washes, I’ve done enough reading to believe that they’re probably worth a shot. Even if they do not, in fact, remove every smidgen of residue from the foods we eat, it seems like a simple measure to, if nothing else, provide us with peace of mind. This particular recipe relies on four very common kitchen ingredients – water, white vinegar, lemon and baking soda – and makes enough produce wash to last about two weeks. After all, during this, the detox season, what better way to truly reboot than to spend a moment or two at every meal giving not only our bodies, but our food, a little bit of a cleanse, too.
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 medium-sized lemon
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
In a large bowl, combine the water, the vinegar and the juice from the lemon. Slowly add the baking soda (the mixture will fizz and bubble quite a bit, so be sure you're ready for it!). Once the bubbles settle, give the mixture a gentle stir.
Set a fine mesh sieve over a small, clean bowl. Drain the mixture through the sieve and into the fresh bowl. Transfer the strained liquid into a clean squirt bottle. When stored in a cool place, the wash will last about 2-3 weeks.