Gosh, I hardly recognize the place.
Yes, it's been a month and a half since my last post. I got out of the blogging habit. A generalized disgust with the world of politics and power, plus the deja vu quality of it all, kept me away from the keyboard. And then came my quandary: I've blogged largely about such things as foreign policy and politics, so what could my new direction, my new focus, be?
That question is unresoved, but since the blog banner claims a pretty wide territory for me to write about, it probably doesn't matter.
Anyway, I'm now up to my eyeballs in vegetables waiting to be canned, frozen, or dried. The harvest is coming in too abundantly and too fast--as it does every year. This year I seem to be behind on getting things into the freezer, though. Guess it's all part of the general malaise I've been feeling. But I've gotten some tomatoes into the freezer, made spaghetti sauce and tomato soup out of my freshly collected tomatoes, and dried two batches of cherry tomatoes and sliced romas (thanks, Barbara Kingsolver, for the inspiration). I need to dry some scallions soon. The corn is delicious, but not a variety that, in my opinion, freezes very well, which is probably a good thing since I've been a slacker at food preservation thus far. I've got about a half-bushel of green beans to deal with, and don't even mention the yellow crook-neck and pattypan squash!
I've dried herbs--thyme, basil (two kinds), oregano, tarragon, and mint; I need more mint. thyme, and basil, plus sage. I'm hoping to make and freeze pesto this year. I also made several kinds of herbal vinegars, with more to come.
When the strawberries and then the cherries came in (we'll have our own strawberries next year, if all goes well), I made jam, and there are blueberries waiting in the freezer until I can get to them. Homemade jam is fun to give away and wonderful to spread on freshly baked bread.
And I've been honing my bread-baking skills. If only I could do those impressive slashes on what becomes the bread's crust! As it is, the bread tastes great (usually), and if I slice it ahead of time nobody has to see the deformed condition of the loaf in its whole state. One of our favorites is the Jewish rye from Daniel Leader's Bread Alone. A couple of days ago I tried a baguette recipe from Leader's new book, Local Breads. The baguettes didn't look terrific, but the crumb was tasty and pleasingly holey and the crust quite good (not perfect, alas). We ate one of them that night and froze the other two. I will certainly be baking those again--soon.
Concentrating on the basics of life, doing physical work, baking bread with flour I've milled myself, putting up the harvest for us to eat all year--these things are not only deeply satisfying, they are, for me, a necessary counterweight to the daily bad news that I can do little about.