Make Do

So what do you do when you don’t have XYZ?   You MAKE DO!  



Let’s face it, you can’t always get what you want when you want it.  Or haven’t you learned that yet? 



I learned this lesson at a very young age.  My dad used to frequently tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff” meaning don’t worry about things I can’t change and things that in the bigger picture of life really are not that important.

I want my children to learn this lesson while they are young too. I hope that by teaching them while they are young, and leading by example, and as they watch me and my husband cope with difficult circumstances in our adult life where we have no choice but to go without the things we want, or making do with what we have (and do it with a joyful heart), will make a positive impact on them and give them coping skills to handle whatever situations they face in their life.
 


“It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
                                                                 Proverbs 14:30


Sometimes accepting that I will have to “make do” means saving my sanity too.  No point in throwing a fit about it.  Just accept it for the time being, “make do” or make the best of the situation and the resources I have, and go forward.  If I waste my energy on pouting or throwing a tantrum, I miss my blessing.  I tell myself that someday I will improve the circumstances if I am able, but until then, be happy.


Our current season of life finds us “making do” with what we have and living without what we don’t have.  I won’t mention all of the wants, but one want / need we have is a backyard grill for our large family of eight people.  We would love to have a grill to enjoy summer cooking outside. 

About two months ago, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana.  The old farmhouse in Indiana is hot this summer.  I leave the kitchen door open most of the time, because it is so hot in the kitchen.  The kitchen is small.  It was a porch at one time in history, before indoor plumbing, and then was enclosed and plumbed probably in the 1930’s or so to become an indoor kitchen.  It is somewhat frustrating for me to cook in it as I was used to a big modern kitchen, with nice appliances, and lots of counter space for food prep with room still leftover for several small appliances in my previous home.  I also had a separate but adjoining dining room so the food was prepared in one area, and eating could take place a few feet away.  We enjoyed this lifestyle as homeschoolers, because we use our table not only for eating, but also for school work too, so I could cook or prep food in one area and all six of the kids could study and or play at the table and we had plenty of room for everyone. 

I am not complaining, but just pointing out the facts as they are.  Being in the small kitchen cooking, or at the kitchen table, means we are all on top of each other.  Literally, we are elbow to elbow in the kitchen.   I find myself in a very old house with almost no electrical outlets, poor lighting, and the kitchen feels like a dungeon.  It is not convenient at all. 

I have two feet of counter space to the left and to the right of the sink, and I bump into the table behind me every at every turn.  And sitting at the table means your back is to the wall on one side, and bumping into the oven door or fridge door when they are opened on the other side.  I currently can’t even imagine how I am going to use the table for school work too.  I feel like I am in a camper with the burden of cooking for a large family and don’t have access to what I need.  By the time you have the coffee pot, a mixer or bowl, and if there are any dishes on the counter to be hand washed, there is no room left for food prep.  There is no dishwasher, microwave, or nice appliances, and gasp. . . no ice maker or water dispenser in the fridge door either.  Nope, NADA!  

And did I mention it is HOT!??   It makes more sense to cook outside than inside right now in the hot summer.  But we don’t have a grill and we don’t have the budget for one at this time either.   What little money we have had has gone to cover basic needs for food, gas, bills, and the garden seeds, and a few fruit trees / plants for the orchard.   In this season of our life, there are many needs and plenty of wants going unmet. 


One thing is for sure, when you accept your circumstances, you can deal with them better.  If you fight, pout, and are frustrated about your circumstances, it makes it all that much harder to live with.  

I am so thankful for my family, even with the demands of caring for a large family.  My kids can be a great source of encouragement in this whole thing, because they are resilient, and optimistic.  They may need a little “get over it” time too, but eventually they come around to the idea of let’s “make do”.  As long as you are together, and have each other to build one another up, you can get through it. 


It is tough!  I am not going to lie!  It is not easy to set aside your wants.  And it is hard to watch those you love suffer, struggle, or go without.




Evaluate What You Have On Hand To Use


So. . . what to do. . .what to do. . .?

First I need to look at the resources I have on hand, and then I can MAKE DO! 

If I want to cook outside, but don’t have a grill, why not cook on an open fire?  For thousand years my ancestors cooked on open fires.  They didn’t have grills, gas ovens, crock pots, or electric stoves.  Yet they succeeded in feeding large families with the resources they had.

Well, in theory that sounds good, but in practice cooking on an open fire presents some challenges: a steep learning curve if you have never cooked out in the open, safety for the cook, safety for the bystanders, keeping a constant source of heat or temperature, preventing food from burning, and food from falling into the fire and being covered in ashes, etc.  It is definitely challenging, but if I can manage those challenges then I can “make do”.



 
Resources I have on hand to cook a meal outside:

            -open space in the backyard
            -rocks
            -bricks
            -shovel to maneuver hot rocks, hot bricks, and charred wood that is on fire
            -tree limbs: maple, apple, mulberry, etc.
            -matches to start a fire
            -foil to provide some protection for food that can burn easily or food that
                 needs to steam in its own juice
            -a pocket knife to whittle wooden spears to hold food over the fire
            -fresh garden produce
            -meat
            -bread and buns



With these resources we were able to build wonderful camp fires in the evenings when daddy got off work, and cook fresh food for several delicious and fun family dinners. 



In the meal pictured below, we roasted fresh corn on the cob, roasted fresh red potatoes with onions and zucchini that was just harvested from the garden before going on the fire, and uncured all natural beef hot dogs cooked by the kids skewered on our wooden spears.



Within a few weeks of learning to cook on the fire, we acquired a new resource: a grate to place over the open fire to cook on.  I was so excited about this “step up” !   I had looked and looked at newspapers, online sources, etc. to try to find a free grill someone was getting rid of, even if nothing on it could be used except the grate, or one that could be bought very cheap. But as the weeks went on through the summer, I could not find one, not even one to recycle.



After a few times of cooking on hot rocks and bricks and spears made of sticks, we finally acquired a grate we found on clearance while grocery shopping.  We now have a wonderful grate to put over the fire for under $10 and and a couple of metal
spear/forks for $2 to spear the food if desired, and this made cooking over the fire much easier.  Total investment was around $14.  We had the bricks already on hand from an old foundation we recycled that was under a shed we took down on the farm.  We made side walls with the bricks by stacking them two bricks high and the bricks helped to keep a hot fire going by retaining a lot of the heat and preventing the fire from spreading out to much, and also helped to hold the cooking grate.  I am very thankful for the upcycled bricks.

  

Cooking over a wood fire is lots of work!  It takes diligence to gather sticks to build the fire, and constant stoking the fire, and time to monitor the fire so it is just right to cook on.  About an hour or more of work goes into making the wood fire before we can place food on it.   And there are a few dangers to keep in mind at all times, especially with young kids around, and if the fire flairs up unexpectedly while you are leaning over it!



Though we have been “making do” without a modern grill this summer, we have a good attitude about it.  We are enjoying our time together, and enjoying learning the ongoing process of getting by and making the most of what we do have.  We are especially enjoying learning the delicious art of cooking over a wood fire outdoors.  No grilling we have ever done EVER, has tasted this good! 



The food is juicy and has a delicious flavor infused with the smoke from the apple, maple, and mulberry tree limbs we are burning.   If you enjoy apple wood smoked bacon, smoked meats like maple wood smoked turkey or smoked brisket, then you will enjoy the flavors of this style of cooking.  It is very exciting to the nose and the tastebuds.



All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, hotdogs, and the beef), were picked fresh just a few minutes before grilling them. 

The fresh
veggies in our meal include:
            next to the bun (potatoes, greenbeans, Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots, acorn
                 squash)
            inside the burger (Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots)
            and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion), 

Though this dinner was cooked outside over an open fire, this meal was restaraunt quality, there is no doubt about it!  Pictured below here is garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious garden fresh sirloin burger.
 



Our country has been so blessed to have easy access to so much modern technology and appliances.  These modern conveniences have made cooking easier for our generation.  Past generations had a much more challenging time preparing foods and cooking delicious meals for their families.  Yet they learned to master the art of cooking both outdoors and indoors (in fire places) over an open fire. 

I am excited to post some upcoming stories about outdoor cooking over the open fire that we have been enjoying this summer.  Stay tuned and I will share with you some delicious foods you can easily cook in your own backyard with your kids and you can make them on the grill, in an electric skillet, or on the campfire. 



Meanwhile, I encourage you to embrace the circumstances you find yourself in during different seasons of life.  Give “making do” a go and I am sure you will get through the toughest of times.  It will inspire you and your family to keep believing that one day the circumstances will change and they will be able to get the things that are needed and wanted, but for now we can and will endure with with a joyful heart what we have on hand.  We can “make do”.


Que
stion:
What ways are you making do in your life?  Have you shared this experience with your children?  Please share your comments below.  Thank you.



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