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Winter’s coming!

The air turned cool today, and it feels like autumn even though it’s still August.  My body had an interesting reaction – it wanted FOOD!  I can’t believe how hungry I was all day, and nothing I ate seem to satisfy.  For the last couple of months I have been eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, and not much else (other than yogurt and some nuts and seeds).  With the cool air I suddenly was craving bread and meat.  How the change in weather affects my body never ceases to amaze me now that I have become aware of this connection.

Another thing I have noticed lately is that I never seem to have any sort of digestive upset anymore.  At least not when I eat at home.  I have been very careful to pre-soak my grains, or eat only sourdough bread that has been through a several day fermentation process that “pre-digests” the wheat before I eat it.  The dairy I consume is either fermented (yogurt or cheese) or raw and full of healthy bacteria that help it break down.  I also eat my lacto-fermented sauerkraut, which similarly helps with digestion.  A lot of work, but my body is definitely happy about it.  I have suffered from digestive disorders (mostly a lot of hyperacidity that for years was thought to be an ulcer!) and it’s just so wonderful to not be bothered by what I eat these days.

The feeling of fall in the air makes me feel justified in how much time I’ve been spending in putting food by this past few weeks.  There’s a wonderful book of that title that my roommate has, which I consult in addition to my own small library on the topic.  I will have to pick up a copy when I move out.  My roommate is an extremely dedicated “putting food by-er” and has wonderful tools with which to do so on a much larger scale than I have ever done: very large pots, huge bowls, an enormous canner, and a food dehydrator.  I am experimenting with these options as best I can.

For the most part, I have put a lot of stuff into my freezer: around 30 ears of corn, blanched and the kernels cut from the cob, several cups of shelled peas, a good half dozen liters of soup and stew, several liters of tomato sauce (more to come) and far too much stewed fruit.  I will enjoy eating it all but it takes up a fair bit of freezer space, which I need for meat for the dogs.  Plus if we ever lose power for any length of time I’ll be in trouble!  I hope to do more canning soon.

One of the reasons there’s so much stewed fruit in the freezer is that I am not 100% sure about canning it without all the sugar used in normal jam.  I did make a little low-sugar jam with apple juice, but I then discovered that the ‘low-sugar’ pectin’s first ingredient is dextrose.  i.e. corn.  GMO corn.  So that was the end of that – no more Certo, so no more jam.  Instead I stewed fruit with some honey, put it in jars, and froze it.  I will can some peaches in the next week or so, which will at least help with my freezer space.

I’ve made more sauerkraut and last night whipped up a huge batch of borscht – far more than I planned but I was chatting with a friend and just kept chopping!  The next thing I knew I had enough borscht made for the winter, which I know will be appreciated in the coming months.

One new item to my pantry this summer is lacto-fermented pickles.  These were super easy to make, and so far are proving to be quite tasty.  I followed this recipe from the book Wild Fermenation!, which is on my Christmas list if I don’t break down and buy it sooner.  I am really becoming a big fan of lacto-fermentation as both a means of easily preserving food, and of boosting my digestion and health.

I keep wanting to sit down and make a plan about what is yet to come (in terms of harvest bounty), what I plan to can, freeze and otherwise preserve, and when.  I also really would like to write down everything I put by, and how, so that I have a good record to compare for next year.  It would be helpful to remember how much I put aside of each time and make note if it was enough, or too much.  But life continues to be busy.  I worked six 12-13 hour days in a row last week, and came home to spend hours cooking and preserving because, well, I had to.  By Monday I was toast, and I spent much of the next couple of days trying to get the rest of my life back on track and the dogs peeled off the ceiling. Plus one of my cats is quite ill and I have been nursing him as best I can.  Tomorrow I start back into another stretch of long days, this time only three in a row.

I really don’t know how people do it.  Certainly if I worked such a schedule full-time I would not have the time or energy to put food by like I am trying to do.  Our lifestyle completely contradicts what seems natural to me now, and I don’t know how I am going to ever re-enter the workforce full-time.  Maybe I’ll find a away around it.  Given my student debt, that will be unlikely, at least in the short term, but I am going to try and at least find a job where I can work from home much of the time, which will allow me to schedule in cooking and so on.  It has become a priority in my life now, and so work will just have to fit in around it this time of year.  That, or sleep will simply have to wait, like it did last week.  No wonder we feel like hibernating come winter!

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