Monday, April 1, 2013

Hash Brown Hail Mary

I'm still zombie-fied after getting off the hamster wheel...
Oh man, what was I thinking?  On my day off, I am torn as to which items to knock off the To Do list.
That same To Do list also has "relax in bed to rest the bum knees" and "spend time with hubby."

So, when possible, I do sleep in.

There's a time to zoom and a time to collapse.  Or maybe I should learn to pace myself??
I've been so chock full of work hours away from home these last few months that my progress with my herbal school assignments has slowed to a crawl, though the materials get read and re-read repeatedly and with relish.  I'm easing into a different mindset with that because it's one thing I did just for myself.  I saved for the tuition for a long time, bought the materials and then some, and it's designed to be self-paced.  It would appear my pace is slower than some, but I'm determined to EXPERIENCE this learning in a more natural way than my previous traditional academic classes, which were more one-dimensional.

In a time when I thought I'd surely be rooting for the home team to keep pushing pushing pushing to the final goal, I lost sight of the fact that part of my goal always is to be in the moment.  So we WILL keep taking the right steps as we ask for God's blessing on these plans, and trust He will correct the direction of things as we go.  I ALSO will do things (well, some things) more slowly in order to not miss these days.  These days of being together in this and loving each other, and learning, and being IN this.

Well...didn't mean to go on about that.

Some Perspective
The forced bedrest prior to returning to work made me examine where I need to do better, and also allowed other areas to settle to their more realistic places.  And allowed my expectations to get un-stuck from Hyper Proceed-Forward mode.  Phew.  And it will disappoint some people.  I am not naturally a people pleaser in some areas, but in the area of my work ethic at a job, I'm nearly a hyper-pleaser.  This has had to stop.  I have had to stand up for myself, because ultimately I answer to myself and to God.  I'm an independent contractor and I pay self-employment tax, which is no picnic, so I'm taking back the management of my work life and my boundaries.  There have been too many times I've let my niceness be taken advantage of, and my relaxed attitude about payment be taken advantage of, as well.  I do love to help people.  But I need to draw boundaries in those areas so I am not a pushover, and preserving my high standards not just at work but to have time at home and with Jack.  And others don't have to like it.  I can't please everyone all the time.

Whoa, Nelly!
I'm allowing myself to slow down.  To rest, not have to think about anything in particular all the time, not have to be "on" all the hours of the day.  I didn't realize how much caregiving requires, but I think the being "on" (meaning being the buffer, the equalizer/mood lifter/need-meeter) for long stretches needs the converse time of being "off."  I thank the Jewish holy days for their interruption of the rat race, and the compassionate command to REST on certain days.  Passover was such a one this year.  We ran right up to its beginning with life, life, life and all its little and big emergencies and I barely got the leaven out of the house in time, cooked up some goodies for the Seder.  When that "enforced" rest comes, of not doing any career-related work for a sacred span of time....well, it's just NICE.  And it's a gift from God.

I heart the Jewish holy days.
I simply loved Passover this year.  It was spent with wonderful friends who are like family, and also with our faraway friends and family we miss very much with us in spirit and thought as we sat down together to recount the Exodus story, have fun, and REST.  I needed it and it happened again.  As it does every year.  And it reminded me of where my heart lies, the priorities that are precious to me, the fact all these THINGS we DO are FOR just this...this family/these friends, this time, this memory of deliverances, the reality that we live in a time where God creates spaces to remind us to never stop hoping, and loving Him.  Regaining my gratefulness, and getting to breathe.

Passover pushed my Reset button.  I was burning out.  The only solution is to keep on persevering, but I cut my work hours back by half a day to have more time with my husband and one day a week our schedules correspond to give us a full day together to work to prepare the Farm. (yay!!!!!)

What's with the hash browns?
I just looked at the title of this post.  I just tried making hash browns, and I did everything wrong, so the lumpy heap of shredded potato mush was wrung of its excess oil and put into the soup pot instead.  So in this house, if at first you don't succeed, you become soup! The has brown second incarnation was much better than its first!

Back to the Budget
I'm all over the place in this post apologies!  I'm resetting my mind to keep the grocery budget to a minimum and to stop eating out.  Everyone can have their conscientious platform for this reason and that reason about the ills of fast foods, storebought, so on and so forth.  I know where I stand on all those, and I know what I can do right now.  What I can do right now is make more at home and make better food cheaper.

So I have to make my own "fast food" more at home.

Soup's On...Again
My reset begins with the bags of frozen veggies I found when cleaning out the freezers for Passover.  They were looking a little peaked but were not freezer burned, and I simply hate waste.  The ones looking worse for the wear went into the Lazy Man's Compost...aka  the ground or compost around the driplines of some of the still-dormant trees in the side lot.  If we had chickens, they'd have gotten some of that.  The better excess frozen veggies went into soup.  I just can't afford meat from the store as regularly as I used to get it.  And as fast as the prices are climbing, that might become zero soon.  I've seen this day coming, but the prices are now exceeding what I conscientiously can justify paying based on our income.  We MUST get to the farm ASAP if we want to continue to eat!  In the meantime I bought a large package of chicken drumsticks for about 6 dollars, and that became the base for a large batch of soup stock.

Don't have a pressure canner, so froze it
We ate on that for the last several days, along with other things, and today I froze 2 gallons of the soup using glass canning jars, leaving airspace for expansion.  Another cheapy quick food was to take a block of five dollar (2lb) cheese, grate it, add canned pimientos (and maybe a few diced green olives), add mayo and chill...for really great homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches through the week.  (Or matzah spread during the week of unleavened bread).

The familiar budgeting cycle continues.  Make soup!   Bake banana bread!   Make sandwich spreads!

It all tastes better than those places we would pay many times the cost and get a fraction of the flavor.

Fail-proof Side Dish
Oh, and a tip from Passover this year...if you have spare pumpkin, sweet winter squashes, or sweet potatoes, bake one up and then use it in the same proportions as the recipe for Pumpkin Pie on the Libby's Pumpkin can.  Their pumpkin pie recipe dates back at least to the 1950s and can be used for pumpkin, sweet winter squashes, or sweet potatoes for an awesome and fast crustless "souffle" as a side dish.  It's SO easy!  I simplify further by using a generous amount of pumpkin pie spice mix instead of the individual spices, and adding a dash of ground ginger.  It's fabulous!  We cooked two batches from one calabaza pumpkin and it's easy enough for a beginner!

What's cooking in your Spring, your thoughts, your kitchen?

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