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Nose to the Grindstone

Life is simply not slowing down one bit!  I’m now into the home stretch of the academic year with just a few weeks of the term left.  But boy oh boy, do I have a lot to get done in that short timeframe.  This is challenging me to keep up with my cooking and local eating, but so far I have been doing ok.  As I mentioned a while back, I decided to allow myself a few additional ingredients so that I could expand my cooking repertoire and keep from getting bored.  That, along with the addition of cookbooks Nourishing Traditions and Full of Beans, and I’ve been doing much better at producing meals that are tasty.  Yeah!  I’ve also been religious about bring my own meals to work, both lunch and dinner.  I’m quite happy to say that I haven’t bought my lunch once this semester.  (*pats self on back)

This last week I’ve tried several new recipes.  The first was a French lentil and tomato soup – the lentils weren’t local but the tomato sauce came from my home canning pantry and all other ingredients (other than salt and pepper) were from the last of my CSA stores.  I also made blueberry-banana bread with some fair trade organic bananas I bought a while back and put in the freezer.  I make a point of making a nice desert every week to bring in my lunch, and that keeps me from buying crappy junk food. I  tend to get a mid-afternoon energy crash, and sometimes simply cannot function without a sugar or caffein fix (unless I can take a nap, which is of course the ideal solution but not an option at work).  A home baked treat is much better than some junk food from the cafeteria, as far as I’m concerned!

Last week I sorted through what I have left and am selecting recipes that will use it all up.  What’s left are a few onions, a few pounds of sprouting potatoes, 6 carrots, two cabbages, a huge turnip, five or six butternut squashes and four heads of garlic.  I also have about 8 cups of corn, three cups of brussel sprouts, one cup of peas, six cups of red peppers, and about four cups of blueberries in my freezer, plus at least a dozen liters of tomato sauce in my pantry.  Not a whole lot to work with, but add to that animal products (meat, dairy & eggs), bread and various fruit stews (fruit cooked down with honey), and I think I’ll make it until May.  This time of year tends to become very carnivorous.

Speaking of which, as I write I am enjoying a big bowl of chili, made with beans from my CSA and local, grass-fed beef from Laepple Organic farm just west of Kitchener.  Believe it or not, this is my first time making chili – ever!  It’s not bad.  It could use more spice, but otherwise is quite edible.  As I am not good at improvising with spices, I will likely just leave well enough alone and eat it as is.

This huge pot of chili will hopefully get me through the next few very busy days.  Tomorrow I work all day (9-6) and then am heading to Kitchener to heat Joel Salatin speak at the Bring Food Home conference that kicks off tomorrow night.  The conference runs all day Friday and Saturday, and I will need to bring lunch and dinner for both days.  The commuting is going to be less than fun (1.5 hours each way) but at least the weather is supposed to be clear.

I am becoming desensitized to all this driving, which I find disconcerting.  Indeed, I am almost starting to enjoy it.  I just flip on the radio or pop in a book-on-CD (I just finished Camus’ “The Stranger”, among other books I’d never, ever prioritize to read otherwise).  With life being so busy, the hour commute each way has become almost an escape.  If I were home, I would be doing something else.  Certainly I wouldn’t be sitting around listening to the radio or expanding my literary repertoire.  The drive has become meditative and relaxing.  As I reach the distance from London where the houses all but stop, I feel my blood pressure drop.  Such a long commute allows me to leave work behind.  I live in a cottage on the lake, and every time I drive home, I enjoy the sense of relaxation brought on by being out in cottage country.

I don’t like that I have become accustomed to all this driving!  But I guess it’s better than hating it more and more, because it is going to continue to be my reality for some time yet.  I am still not sure what I’m doing about my living situation.  I have pretty much decided that I must move (doing this commute four times a week is a ludicrous thought, even with all the books on tape int the world at my disposal) but that means having to actually find a place to live.  Quite frankly, I’m going to be hard pressed to beat the house I’m in for peace, beauty and serenity.  But every home offers something different, and perhaps my next place will have enjoyable features that this one doesn’t.

Well, I had best sign off and get down to some essay grading, which will be followed by some house cleaning.  My roommate gets back this weekend and as I will be away,  today is the only chance I’ll get to put the house in order. I have more or less taken over the whole house in her absence and need to retract into my room.  I have not quite finished all the organizing and purging that I was trying to do, but I did get a significant amount done.  I only have 6 small boxes or shopping bags full of stuff to sort and organize, in addition to the stacks of journal articles that need to be filed.  Likely it will take me several more weeks to get through it all, given that I may only have an hour or two a week from now on.  If I’m lucky.  OK, enough talk – time to get down to work.  Or maybe I’ll have another half bowl of chili to really fuel up my engine…

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