Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fall wrap-up

Well, witness what an academic semester looks like by reviewing this blog...One post in November, one post in October, two in September...Ouch! It's like a tsunami came and sat on my head! (Which is what it felt like, incidentally...)

So what have I been up to over the past several months?

One, riding the wave of course prep and lecture development for a class I hadn't yet taught (2 more weeks of that post-Thanksgiving, hallelujah!).

Two, riding the rising tide of mental health use. We've been so busy this semester! I don't know if it's the economy and all the bad news in the media that's made us busier or if it's just a fluke. I do know we've been smacked hard.

Three, checking in on my garden from time to time...I have loads of over-wintering broccoli, turnips, carrots, leeks, tons of garlic, chard, spinach, and kale all sitting in their maturing adolescence out back. I've had to cover everything with frost blankets 3 times so far and expect to 3 more times this coming weekend (I'll probably just throw on the covers and leave them for that stretch). But they look great all in all, provided the early spring isn't too brutal, we'll have crops all the way through here. I tried to transplant the broccoli thinnings this year and I think it's worked pretty well. About 3/4 of them survived the transplant, so that might become a new practice. Nothing lost if they don't survive beyond a few minutes of my time.

Four, the end of the food prep! The peppers went absolutely gonzo until a killing freeze knocked them back last week. I have so many different pepper products that I may not have to grow to peppers next year (not that I won't!). I have about half a pound of pepper flakes in the mild, medium, and hot varieties; habanero pepper sauce; tabasco pepper sauce; aji dulce pepper sauce; aji limon pepper sauce; green chili relish; pickled habaneros; pickled Hungarian wax peppers; frozen dried peppers of all varieties; and frozen hot chili sauce. And there's probably more stuff I'm not thinking of right at this moment.

I do think I'll scale back my pepper production next year. I got tired of having to come up with new ways to save them! I must have gotten several hundred tabasco peppers (they're small, don't forget) and close to a hundred habaneros off one plant each! It was sick! Next year I think I'll do a jalapeno (mine wasn't prolific this year and I love the large dried flakes/pieces that jalapenoes make when you dry them. Delicious in mashed potatoes!), a mole pepper, the aji dulce I can no longer live without, and a smaller bell (I'd rather have more smaller than fewer large bells).

Also in the food prep category, I canned up 10 qts of beef stock made from the lovely, silky knuckle bones from my local food co-op. Bought a 20 pound bag of potatoes to save in our cool garage, stored the 12 leftover butternut squash from this summer's bumper crop, and bought several small pie pumpkins for the makeshift garage-root-cellar. Dried 10 bell peppers I found on sale. Inventoried all the food storage to date. I've had to watch the mounting anxiety I feel whenever I see anything to do with the economy. It seems like most of the peak-oil bellwethers have moved from advocating a 3-month food supply to at least a 6-month supply. What do you guys think?

I've been struggling to find time to breath and I found that time away from the computer was the way to go for me. I was still (and am still!) reading/scanning other people's blogs - in brief, stolen moments - but writing on top of the lecture development was too much. I guess when I get busy I prefer to power down and away whenever I can. Hopefully I'll have some time to write over the next few weeks until the semester picks up in the spring.

Hope you are well and enjoying the winter gardening and/or planning for spring. My Pinetree catalog came last week! First of the season... anyone else starting to get seed catalogs?


Hausfrau said...

I got the Pinetree too! Maybe we can do a seed split next year....

I wish I could power down away from the computer, but I am addicted. DH said yesterday "Blogosphere stole my wife!".

Tricia said...

Nice wrap-up, Lewru!

I'm curious about your make-shift garage root cellar. Did you do anything special out there? Or are you simply storing food in the garage? Either way, it's a good idea! Don't know why it never occurred to me.

Lewru said...

We have an old entertainment center that is sitting in the garage. Several shelves are designated to canned goods, etc. The middle shelf (probably where the turntable was?) is where the produce is sitting. Our garage is barely insulated so it gets hot and cold. It's been cold enough (but doesn't freeze) for a couple of weeks now and will probably work until March/April.