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Starting in on My Winter Stores

Oh my goodness, it’s already into the second week of January!  Where does the time fly?  I am just about to go to bed but thought I should spend a few minutes jotting down some thoughts at long last.  I always have ideas and discussions in my head that I would like to put on this blog, but never the time to actually write.  I know I keep saying this, but life is just too darned busy.  I can’t wait to find a way to slow it down at least a bit.  I should be able to find time to write here at least every couple of days.

Right now I am making a pot of chicken soup stock.  I am trying the recipe that is listed in Nourishing Traditions, which I got for Christmas.  What a great present!  As soon as I’m finished here, I am going to climb into bed and start reading the introductory essay (78 pages of research on food).  I expect I’ll learn a lot.

Another present I received was Julia Child’s Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes From a Lifetime of Cooking.  Remember how I keep complaining that I don’t really know what I’m doing in the kitchen?  Hopefully this book will help fix that.  However, it is aimed at cooks who are “tolerably familiar with culinary language; whose kitchens are normally well equipped with such staples as jelly-roll pans, a food processor, a decent rolling pin; and who know their way around the stove reasonably well.”  Um… jelly-roll pan?  Rolling pin?  Well, I do have a food processor, so that’s a start.  And I can turn on my stove and oven, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up.

Yesterday I made Julia’s base soup recipe (potato & leek).  As promised, it was lovely just with those two ingredients (plus salt, pepper, and water).  True to form, however, I didn’t quite follow the recipe.  As I was using lovely, local and organic potatoes, I refused to skin them. I want all the nutrients I can get these days!  I figured a few skins won’t hurt the soup.  They didn’t, in terms of taste, but visually, the little brown bits floating about aren’t exactly attractive.  Oops.  Good thing it’s just me eating it!

Today I reheated it and added chopped kale.  Still yummy.  Now to improve my chicken soup stock.  Mine always ends up being too thin.  I am going to cook it for hours and see if that helps.  It is simmering away now, but I will have to turn it off before going to bed and then cook it some more tomorrow.

Now that we are into January, the availability of local food is significantly diminished.  I can still get meat and (at least for the moment) eggs.  I need to check in with my milk source to see if the cow is producing enough to spare some for us.  Fresh greens are almost done, although my roommate still had some kale and spinach in her garden, which she brought home for us to share.  I’m pretty happy about that!

I still have plenty of squash, carrots, potatoes and onions, plus a couple of turnips, some parsnips and a celery root.  Oh, and I think a few beets, if they haven’t gone soft.  That’s it for the season, however.  Then I’m on to my canned and frozen stores.  My freezer is bursting but I expect it will go down quickly.  That said, we’re already into the second week of January, and by March greens may once again become available.  Once there, we’ll be into the home stretch.  April, however, is the toughest month.  But I’ll worry about that in April!

This week I opened my first jar of canned peaches.  Yum, yum, yum.  I am once again upset with myself for only having put up 7 quarts of them, which I will ration at a rate of one per week until they are done.  At least I will savour every mouthful.  Next year I will put up at least twice as many if I do nothing else!

I can’t quite remember what else is in my freezer and should take another inventory.  I started one a while ago but lost the list and I hate pulling everything out of the freezer and then repacking it.  I won’t be dipping into my freezer stores for a few weeks yet, so I’ll wait until then.  Most of what I need regularly (such as bread) is on the top.

Christmas wrapped up nicely and the new year came quickly on its heels.  I’m back in London area now, and back to work.  I am already a bit tired and feeling behind in my work.  I did get quite a bit done over the break (I won’t call it a holiday, because it wasn’t!) but not nearly enough.  My two big accomplishments were that I got my dogs trained 6 days out of 10, which resulted in each of them making wonderful progress in their herding skills.  They will now likely just do agility for the rest of the winter as the snow I think is too deep to train in.

The other thing I did was finally move forward with getting myself treated for stress and back pain after the accident.  So far my back is feeling much, much better, although it’s been 6 days since my last adjustment and I woke up quite sore this morning.  My sleep is not yet improving, despite starting with homeopathic treatment.  Last night I woke up with a start at least four times.  Not very restful.  I don’t know why I do this, but apparently it is linked to stressed out adrenal glands.  It seems that a sudden shock can make them quite twitchy, firing off bursts adrenaline when you need it the least.  Hopefully they will calm down soon!  I am starting some massage therapy this week, and maybe that will be the magic bullet.  I really miss sleeping deeply, and with my busy schedule, not being well rested makes life just that much more challenging.

Speaking of sleep, it’s time to turn off the soup pot, have a hot shower and climb into bed.  First I must stoke the woodstove, which is keeping the house lovely and snug, I must say.  The animals, my roommate and I spend all our time hovering around it in the dining room – both computers are set up next to it and I have little beds and blankets for the crew in close proximity to its heat.  What a wonderful invention; I don’t know how I ever made it through a winter without one!

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