Food co-op 101

Guest writer Joyce Jordan

In early 1983, I received an invitation to be part of a counter-culture and unapologetically Christian group of women who had been veering off of the food mainstream for several years. The food pendulum was swinging back to basics. I was thrilled to accept, and to join the ranks of the Target Food Co-Op.

The idea of shooting at a target is to aim for the center, and the co-op’s goal was to aim for foods that were as healthy and economical as possible. This was an ambitious task for a group of Midwestern women in their 20s and 30s, raised on traditional Midwestern foods cooked in traditional Midwestern ways. We were banding together to head into the unknown. No radical changes – just a step by step process toward feeding our families in a way we thought would be better. Every family was different than the others, and this uniqueness of preferences, goals and budget was always respected.

As in any co-op, the basic premise is to share in the effort so that we can share in the result. We each had jobs related to bulk food purchase and preparation, and we took turns presenting a lesson at the monthly meeting. We purchased things like 50# bags of oatmeal, 25# blocks of cheddar cheese (you cut it with a guitar string), 25# bags of shredded cheese, cases of frozen veggies, large containers of pepperoni, etc. Each of these was divided into the portions that a Target member had ordered. We contracted with a local health food store, with a local dairy, with a wholesale food supplier, with people who raised beef, etc. Buy in bulk and share the savings.

I was the treasurer for many years, which was a much more ambitious job in the pre-computer era! We had a small monthly service charge that covered postage, plastic bags, and paying a babysitter to watch our children.

Through the years we studied and cooked our way through many cookbooks, we intensely studied principles of nutrition, we launched ourselves into whole grains and complementary proteins, we investigated food fads, and we read books on simpler living. We discussed budgeting, food storage, dealing with food allergies, feeding children, new cooking gadgets, showing hospitality, entertaining on a shoestring, and making holidays fun AND nutritious.

I attended my first meeting of Target with a very tiny Diana in a carseat, and left when I had three children in elementary school. We were moving into a new family phase, and I needed to make some adjustments to manage my time differently. The women of the Target Co-Op had become dear friends through the years, and we supported one another through life events far beyond the scope of the kitchen.

I’m still picturing that image of the target. Learning to cook as empty nesters has brought changes, but I continue to be enthusiastic about eating healthy, being thrifty and aiming for the center in all aspects of life!

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Dinner tonight: Dairy-free nachos

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I miss cheese. Really so much. Several of my vegan friends have posted recipes for vegan “nacho cheese,” and I decided to give it a shot. Nachos are just fun food, so I was excited to put them on the menu.
I had Brett guess the ingredients of the nacho sauce, and he was pretty stumped. I followed the recipe from New Nostalgia, but all the recipes floating around have the same basic ingredients of cashews, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes and non-dairy milk. Pretty weird, huh? I’m not sure how she got it such a creamy texture; I food-processored the heck out of it and couldn’t get it to look like hers. I even soaked the cashews, oh well.
The verdict? Tasty! If you make this, don’t expect it to taste like cheese. It doesn’t (and it doesn’t taste like nuts, either). But it is a flavorful, creamy-ish nacho topping. Great with blue corn tortilla chips, homemade guacamole, refried black beans and jalapeños. That’s a vegan/plant-based meal I think anyone would like.

Mother’s Day

First, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom! I’m so thankful for you. I wish there had been blogs in the 80’s because I would want to read yours.

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This year I’m so blessed to celebrate Mother’s Day with my two beautiful and funny girls.

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Hannah came home from preschool with several sweet crafts for me and an enlightening interview.

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If Mother’s Day is hard

I’ve had a couple rough Mother’s Days. My first one was when we were waiting for an adoption placement. It was hard wanting to be a mother so badly, but having no idea about the timing. Another rough Mother’s Day was just a few weeks after our miscarriage.
I can think of a lot of reasons this holiday can be hard. Some women going through infertility, some grieving a loss of a mother or child, some with bad relationships with a mother or child. I also think of birthmothers who chose adoption; they gave someone else the gift of motherhood and their own role may not be acknowledged or even known by others.
So if Mother’s Day stinks for you, I’m sorry. I’ve had a couple rough holidays, but I know for others it is many more. Virtual hugs to you; you are not forgotten!
I’ll be calling my mom, hugging my girls, thanking Hannah’s birthmother and thinking of my baby in Heaven. This is not a holiday I take for granted.

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First night out (post-baby)

Alternate title: my friends are way cooler than me
I haven’t had a “girls’ night out” in a really long time. So despite my introvert self, when I received an invitation to a local brand launch party and fashion show, I replied YES. It’s so rare that I do something like this that I felt it deserved a blog post.
It’s Austin Fashion Week (I didn’t even know we had a fashion week until I received this invitation, that’s how unfashionable I am). Some local boutiques partnered to host a fashion show of a new brand, Tshirt & Jeans Girl, with proceeds benefitting the nonprofit Dress for Success. This organization provides resumé consulting and a professional outfit to low-income women for interviews. Then after they have been hired, they continue with job coaching and more donations of appropriate wardrobe items for their working environment. Really neat!
For my night out, I donned a tshirt and jeans, of course, and left Brett to put the kiddos to bed (which went smoothly, yay!). I thought I’d try a selfie in the car since I was trying to be cool. Do cool people even say cool?

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I enjoyed drinks and appetizers with some of my friends from Bible study. Yeah, Bible study; there’s me dropping my coolness again. ;)

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Then a couple of my other friends were in the fashion show. Great ideas for rockin’ a tshirt. I think I need some boots.

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This stylish girl sent me the invite. We met while working with the youth at church several years ago.

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This is my friend Amanda of Vagabond Photography, and she does the photography and design for belts carried by the Tshirt & Jeans Girl brand. The sunflower one is my favorite; I’ve still got some Kansas in me. ;)
I did a little shopping after the fashion show, and my wardrobe is now a little more stylish with a knit maxi skirt and a Texas tee. I’m sure you’ll see me wearing both a lot.
The night wrapped with more good food and good friends under a stunning live oak tree, too dark to get pictures. A fantastic evening – tshirts, jeans, wine, bacon, goat cheese – with conversation mourning our sleep and raving about roasted brussels sprouts.