In remembrance of a great leader who continues to inspire us decades after his untimely death, I had the day off of work yesterday as a paid holiday. These extra days feel like a whole extra weekend, a gift from the universe to use to work towards the life I strive to live. Weeknights offer so little time for anything more than my yoga practice and a meal with my man, that weekends become the time that I craft my life. This weekend I had the beautiful opportunity of a Yin Yoga workshop with an awesome teacher up from Florida, so the extra day gave me an entire day at home I would not have otherwise had.
By some miracle, I managed to marry a man who not only hauls wood and shovels snow, but spent an hour or two on Saturday vacuuming the (very dirty) floor. So I began the day with a semblance of a clean house! A true gift, that. We have moved our bedroom downstairs into the small room across from the bathroom that will one day house a young one. This is in part to conserve heat, by putting the entirety of our living space near the plumbing pipes and blocking off the rest of the house with curtains. And it is partially to allow us to lay down a floor and build walls – and a closet! – in the upstairs where our room will be. Last weekend I mostly moved us into our new room, and today I put away (some of) my clothes into their new homes.
I drank coffee and wrote letters to dear ones across the country and across the globe in font of a view of a beautiful pink and sliver sky behind the birches.
I made stock out of a ham bone from friends. The local meat market has not had soup bones the last few time I went, and we have been forlornly out of stock at home as a result. I love cooking with bone stocks, both for the taste and the nutrition. We try to eat only organic and/or local meat, so bone stocks also stretch the dollars when buying expensive meat. Of course, hunting and fishing also help! The Darlin'Man went to a friend's house to watch the game on Sunday, and his wife sent my man home with a hambone. I wondered exactly how it had come about... "here, your wife does weird things like make bone broth, do you want our left overs?" or what.... Turns out, she sent it to our dogs as she was going to throw it out! Well, the pups got scraps Sunday night as I carved off some of the (still relatively lots) of ham from the bone. This went to the side for a soup. Then the meaty bone went into a stock pot with a couple of carrots, a couple of onions, some celery, bay leaves, allspice, cloves, and peppercorns. And it boiled and simmered for probably 30 hours until the stock was a dark rich brown and the entire house smelled of soup. I froze a few quarts, put a few quarts in the fridge for use this week, and the rest went into the crock pot with potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, some spices, and the ham scraps for tomorrow's dinner. The over-cooked ham from off the bone and carrots and onions from the stock are waiting for the dogs dinner tomorrow, and the two pieces of bone are in the freezer for some day when two pups will be very very lucky. I'm not entirely sure what those friends would think of me making multiple meals out of the leftovers they were going to toss and instead gave to our dogs. But I do know that even a feedlot pig deserves to have as much of its body used and appreciated as possible.
I started some sprouts on the counter, from seeds my father gave me a very very long time ago and I had yet to get around to using. It took me far too long a time to figure out that the health food store carried the lids for mason jars for sprouting. And then it all sat in the pantry. It will be very nice in a few days to have some truly fresh greens in the dead of winter.
I made a large batch of chai (without the black tea, so no caffeine) to have in the fridge for drinking this week. For some reason, I have a resistance to drinking glasses of water that I don't have to drinking tea or juice. So last week I made a huge batch of raspberry leaf and clover tea, it being that time of the month for me, and the herbs also being good for digestion and as a health tonic for my man. The herbs last week I gathered myself last summer, but the cinnamon and cloves and cardamom and ginger and coriander were from the grocery store. Either way it is much cheaper than juice and just as good for you.
And! I started a batch of sauerkraut in my very own crock. For my birthday, my mother not only got me an insulated down skirt to wear over my yoga pants to and from class, but she also got me a crock!!! It was designed by Sandor Katz, the author of "Wild Fermentation," collaborating with a potter. And its really pretty. For those of you who have read my earlier attempts at fermentation, you will know that I am skilled at turning saurkraut into mold and beer into vinegar. But recently, I have successfully made fermented cabbage and turnip and rutabega in mason jars using enormously generous amounts of brine. Both my man and I really enjoy saur-veggies. And they are a panacea, populating the gut with the flora and fauna that not only promotes healthy digestion, but helps regulate hormones, and affects mood and metabolism and the central nervous system. The gut is a pretty amazing place. I digress. The point is that I started a batch of saurkraut with a mix of red and green cabbage, and I'm really looking forward to sharing the (hopefully) triumphant results with you.
On top of all that, the Darlin'Man did the dishes, and I helped! Every last dirty dish from the past month and more has been washed! And while it may not sound like a lot, from a woman who has abhorred doing dishes and foisted them onto housemates and husbands for years, I am proud to announce that I did three sinkfulls! The last bits that my man had given up on, but which now done, give us a proverbial clean slate, and an actual clean kitchen. It feels so welcoming and spacious. My home feels like a welcoming and a productive space, that is not overwhelming me with things to do. And that is a wonderful way to start the workweek.