#94 – Cooking like it’s 1999 (with Betsy Farquhar!)

Everything in our culture today seems to be high-stress, even when we don’t realize it.

When we slow down in one area, we can reap the benefits in other areas as well. That is the power of scholé.

Betsy Farquhar changed her cooking habits to decrease the pressure while increasing the connection and creativity required, and tells us how it’s helped her even in her homeschooling.

Cooking can be scholé, so it can teach us how to slow down and practice an art. But cooking is also a useful metaphor for homeschooling, as Brandy, Betsy, and Abby develop in this episode.

Listen to the podcast:


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Cooking like it’s 1999

[3:06-13:43] Scholé Everyday
[14:48] Cooking without Google
[21:03] Cooking with limits and creativity
[28:45] Cooking can be relational
[30:46] Cooking is art and skill
[31:29] Teaching is art and skill, also
[39:37] Scholé is content but not complacent
[51:08] Do the work
[54:46] Encouragement for moms

Today’s Hosts and Guest

Brandy Vencel
homeschools 3 of her 4 kids now that her oldest is off at college. Her go-to weeknight meal is taco salad with homemade refried beans made in her Instant Pot.

Abby Wahl
homeschools her 5 kids and makes a lot of food to feed them. Her family eats more elk than chicken, but her go-to quick dinner is eggroll-in-a-bowl with jasmine rice.

Betsy Farquhar has been a middle and high school English teacher, a school librarian, and has written for World Magazine. She is the managing editor of Redeemed Reader, where the editors read ahead for you.

All great stories point to THE story of Christ redeeming his people. Betsy loves helping people find those stories and know how to talk about them. To date, she’s helped hundreds of children and teens (and their parents and teachers) discover great reads. One of her young friends calls her, “The Good Book Lady.” When she’s reading ahead for you, she does so with sticky notes (instead of book darts) and willfully dog ears pages. She’s a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussion, and the Oxford comma.

Betsy homeschools her three teenagers in Washington state with lots of time spent on hikes and board games.

“My brain is atrophying when I’m browsing the web.”

Betsy Farquhar, episode 94

Betsy’s family has “Farkle Pizza Company” night every Friday, where homemade pizza is a given, but the toppings are always different.

Scholé Everyday: What We’re Reading

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Last of the Mohicans
Jayber Crow
Hannah Coulter

Last of the Mohicans, J. Fennimore Cooper

Abby and her daughter are listening to this novel as part of their American history studies this year.

Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry

Betsy gets into her first Berry novel.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

Brandy is actually reading Harry Potter!

Cooking without Google

Betsy realized that she would spend way more time Googling, looking for a recipe, than she was cooking. She remembered the days when passing recipes around was a very human connection point.

We’ve replaced that now with ad-filled cooking blogs bloated with fake personal connection stories.

Betsy and a friend decided at the beginning of the year as one of their new year resolutions to not search for recipes for the whole year, but rather to use the cookbooks they owned and also share recipes “like the good old days.”

They have a few exceptions allowed. Google isn’t totally banned. However, they are learning to cook without searching for the very best option and they are also sharing recipes in faster, simpler ways.

Betsy has an email from her mom sharing a recipe, sent in 1999. That, coupled with the song, helped them name their project and challenge: Cooking like it’s 1999. When you could email a recipe, but you couldn’t Google for a million recipes instantly.

Cooking with limits & creativity

It wasn’t about spending hours in the kitchen; it was about doing our job better.

Betsy Farquhar, episode 94

Almost immediately, Betsy and her friend found themselves exclaiming, “I love cooking again!”

They were enjoying cooking more, were more relaxed, making old favorites they’d forgotten about, and trying things they’d always wanted to try. Removing the time suck of recipe browsing and review reading increased the time they had to actually cook as well as to talk about what they were doing with one another.

This challenge improved her friend’s menu planning as well because it made her simply go to her go-to, off-the-shelf meals which she was familiar with and that her family enjoys rather than browsing for new options or perfect solutions.

Betsy doesn’t think they’ll every go back.

Cooking can be so relational

Before the internet, friends swapped recipes and spread skills and knowledge through conversation.

Family traditions are formed on passed-down recipes that cannot be replaced by or replicated by an internet search. The passed-down recipe carries more meaning and weight and connection.

Cooking together is a traditional bonding activity and also the best way to learn how to make something.

When we depend on the internet, we lose all these threads.

Betsy’s husband, episode 94

Is this challenge only for good cooks?

Those of us married for twenty or more years learned how to cook without the internet and it’s still possible because the resources we used are still available – they’re just no longer the go-to.

You don’t need to knock it out of the park every day. Use a cookbook to learn a process, then start adapting and experimenting after you know how the recipe works. Cooking is a skill and knowledge that grows with practice.

Cooking is art and skill

Actually doing and practice is the best way to build skill, not just reading about it or watching others do it on YouTube.

Teaching is an art and skill, also

What are your ingredients? What resources do you have to help you? Take those and then practice!

Don’t spend 30 minutes or more searching for how others might be doing it better when you have enough material to work with already. Go with what you know and build from a place of practice.

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

Herbert Simon

When you’re curating homeschool resources, rely on the recommendations of friends.

Scholé is content but not complacent

We can do our job with enjoyment and not envy or comparison.

Every day doesn’t have to be a fancy feast. That’s true in cooking and it’s true in education.

Start with what your family needs, not with all the options other people are doing or everything possible on the internet.

Look at what’s in your hand and do the work.

Mentioned in the Episode

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Cooking Magazine
How to Cook Everything―Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food
Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Three Ring Binder Edition)

SS #85: Beyond restful learning

Scholé includes, but is also so much more than, restful learning. Once again, the Scholé Sisters return to the topic of figuring out what scholé really means and what it truly is. How do we know if what we’re doing counts as scholé? That’s the question tackled in this episode. Listen to the podcast: TUNE…
Read More SS #85: Beyond restful learning

SS #82: You Can’t Cancel Christmas

The death of culture and festivity is not a less important death than bodily. No matter what government officials say, Christmas is coming and must be honored with festive celebration – piety requires it. In this episode, Brandy Vencel, Pam Barnhill, Mystie Winckler, and Abby Wahl discuss how festivity and scholé fits into the curricular…
Read More SS #82: You Can’t Cancel Christmas

Want to talk about the ideas presented here? The conversation is happening inside Sistership.

Read widely with us this year.

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