Thursday, December 23, 2010

Resolutions and Condiments

   The winter solstice has passed and it is time to take stock and look at where we are, where we've been, and where we're going. This time of year about a decade and a half ago I recall telling a co-worker who seemed to mourn the passing of another year, "I just think, 'am I happier now than I was last year?' and, I am." There have been a few times since when I did not feel that way, but in the past 15 years or so I have found it true this time of year more often than not. As long as I have a purpose and a goal, I find that I am usually moving in a positive direction. This has resulted in my using resolutions to set goals for myself and, in an effort to be as unoriginal as possible, I tend to do this near the beginning of the year.

   So, how did I do this year? Let's start by looking at what the resolutions were...

1) this blog.
2) finish the AFI's top ten and start in on some of the top twenty-five.
3) eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
4) learn to reload.
5.0) add another raised bed for the garden.
5.5) pay closer attention to planting-harvesting-replanting.
5.6) do more canning and freezing.
6.0) do some hike-in camping.
6.5) do at least one big hiking trip like last fall’s Mt. Ellinor hike.
7) actually fill a deer or elk tag.
8) get more exercise.
9) make it to the wedding in NC in October.
10) try cheese making and homemade pectin.
11) harvest some of my own firewood this year.
12) do more with my son.

   As I covered in Resolutions Revisited back in July, numbers 1, 3, 4, 5.0, 6.0, 6.5 8, 9, and 11 were either done or on track. Most of the rest has been covered in this blog, but here it is in a nut:

   I did finish watching the American Film Institute's top ten films, but did not actually delve into the others in the top 25.

   The garden was a challenge this year as the weather was poor. As a result we only froze some pumpkin, but we did do a good bit of canning using what we could from the garden and quite a bit from the local produce stand.

   Hiking, camping, and backpacking across the Olympic National Forest all happened and were wonderful. I expect there will be much more backpacking to report next year!

   I did not fill a deer or elk tag. I did talk about it some here in Elk, Mayo, and Potato Salad and November Bane. I feel like I'm making progress and better understanding the area, but I have yet to put wild harvested meat in the freezer.

   I did get more exercise (though that's been less true the past month or so), we made it to the wedding in North Carolina and spent ten days visiting good friends, made and canned pectin, and harvested some of my own firewood. I now have two chainsaws that need repair, though, and ended up buying as much wood as I harvested. I'll need to work harder on that next year.

   I always need to do more with my son and while I have a difficult time sitting with him to play Legos, we have found some old TV shows and movies we enjoy watching together. Currently we are watching the first season of Airwolf and I have to say while it's not a great show, it held up better than I expected.

   Besides the deer and elk tags, the biggest failure on the list is cheese making. I knew when I set the goal that it was a longshot and, all in all, I actually achieved more than I expected. As I talked about in Elk, Mayo, and Potato Salad, though, I did start getting into making condiments. Being challenged by some friends in Alabama who are now making just about everything from scratch, I began to look closer at what is on our shopping lists and wonder if we could make it ourselves.

   We had already made relish from green tomatoes and red cabbage which came out great. It's purple and has a tangy flavor. The dilled green tomatoes turned out tasty, but because of the texture I anticipate using them primarily for relish as well. (We won't be buying relish anytime soon!) I have made a couple batches of mayonnaise now. The recipes I've referred to all say to use lemon juice or vinegar and we have found we much prefer vinegar. I made a couple half-pints of prepared horseradish when we ran out which turned out pretty mild, but wholly wonderful.

   Two weeks ago I bought out the produce stand's supply of California tomatoes and spent a full day making and canning tomato ketchup. If I can learn how to make steak sauce, mustard, and cayenne pepper sauce I'll be set!

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