I'm writing this in front of the first fire of the season. We had an anniversary bonfire the other night. But the parts for the woodstove arrived : a new cast-iron top to replace the one that cracked last winter, a new baffle – interestingly made of some sort of pearlite crazy wonderfulness-, and a new layer of internal insulation. So we have our first fire in the woodstove, and my back basks in the gorgeous heat. We've had a frost that killed the squash, but the calendula and peas are still strong, the potatoes thriving despite frost-bitten upper leaves. This fire feels like the harbinger of the inward-turning time of the year. The time of the year that is about pulling out of the freezer and pantry, rather than manically filling them. The time of year when warmth, and the fire that makes it, becomes the most important thing, that which life revolves around. We are considering replaceing the propane with a wood cookstove – one which as a hot water reservoir in addition to an oven.
Which brings me to the kitchen. And my love for themed blog post "series." As the CSA winds down, so will CSA Cooking. Homestead Eating will likely come back, but I find myself drawn to a new one as well. I notice, increasingly that this blog is primarily about food, interspersed with life and occasionally art. (Speaking of which! My loom is dressed again!) In this reflection, i realize just how much of my life is lived in the kitchen. And so I give you, Kitchen Living.
For me the kitchen is a living space. It is about more than the (ever-expanding) corner of the kitchen holding various crocks and jars of fermenting kraut, pickles, kefir and kombucha. It is about the way that meal flows to meal, the way that habits support habits, and the way that food is rarely wasted. It means tailoring meals to what happens to be in the fridge (massive amounts of cheese? I'm all about it!).
Today I was chopping up the parsley from the CSA for tomorrow's tabouleh making, while the bulgur simmered on the stove. I took the parsley stems –something others might toss – and tucked them into a very special gallon Ziploc in the freezer. There it met celery leaves, carrot ends, and other herb stems. And the next time I make stock, I'll empty the bag on top of my chicken carcass. This way, stock is something that truly evolves out of the daily doings in the kitchen. It is flavored with the memory of meals past. And none of the precious vitamin and nutrient wealth of the scraps goes to waste. It is a habit that takes barely any longer than it would to toss the scraps. All it requires is the mindfulness. The appreciation. The love.