I've never been particularly frugal. I learned to cook not to economize but because I love the excitement of choosing ingredients, and the satisfaction that comes from a perfect marrying of them together. I've trained myself to be good with money more because of circumstance than desire (an accidental Wall Street career and a husband who is determined to live abundantly despite a dribbling faucet). Frugal I am not. I can hear my mother laughing already. Countless times I scampered away from some wasteful mess I had made of something, or a request for new Keds, her rising voice imploring "money doesn't grow on trees, Audra!" trailing behind me. But I fiercely wanted to believe that it did.
I'm really overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and dialogue following my last post and want to say thank you to my readers. It means a great deal to me and I feel full with love from friends and even strangers from near and far. It's important to me to be able to use this blog as an avenue for exploring more difficult issues -- but I also want to be a source of lightness, and occasional inspiration. Because life is so very much both. So bear with me as I figure out the right balance.
Today- I swing to the opposite side of the spectrum, and talk about balls, and in under 500 words. Edible, quick balls. With nothing in them from my garden. I could tell you about the armful of bok choy I harvested this morning and how it'll be stir fried tonight with local Coffelt's ground lamb and my first clippings of basil in a staple sauce of fresh ginger, garlic, sweet thai chile sauce, shoyu, and a dash of fish sauce (a glorious combination taught to me by dearest friend Mandy our first year of college... she couldn't make mac'n'cheese but she could rock a stir fry). But then I'd have to wrap that into a story about college longings (and Mandy attempting that mac'n'cheese naked) and how many years I spent desperately trying NOT to get pregnant. Moving on to edible balls, with nothing in them from my garden.
In one year of my life I have felt the nervous rustle of joy that comes from seeing two little pink lines on an over the counter plastic stick, three times. And three times I have felt the uncontrollable urge to free-fall that comes from losing them. I've had three miscarriages over the course of one small year. I've been hesitant to write about this - in fact, after my second miscarriage in December, I felt completely blocked, unable to find the words to express how I was feeling, and consequently unable to write about anything. What I needed most desperately, was to just 'get on with it'.
When I was shopping for pantyhose at Fogel two years ago I wasn't considering how well they'd support a sugar pumpkin. I was worried about shoving my own pie thighs into them and looking fashionable, or at the very least, thinner, tanner, or something. I'm sitting here now, on an island off the Pacific northwest, admiring how well they have accommodated the girth of the sugar pumpkins I trellised in an old wine barrel months ago. Sabina, my ever supportive dog, looks on with two balls shoved into her mouth, unaware of the significance of this moment. I have to pause: my pumpkins are wearing pantyhose, and I am not.
It’s been stunningly beautiful for as long as my short memory permits. Bright cerulean blue skies every morning, a rustling fall breeze working its way through the evergreens and shaking the leaves off the deciduous trees. I have finally plateaued in my tomato harvest and I’m about to harvest my first jalapenos- and it’s October 5th. Granted they’re all happily snug in a makeshift greenhouse but there are still tomatoes and peppers -- in fact so many I am quietly wishing the bunnies would find them. I’ve made pints on end of sauce, crushed tomatoes, ketchup, passata, dried tomatoes, and frozen cherry tomatoes. I wait for these beauties all year long -- rarely do I enjoy one out of season because they are so uniformly terrible. When they come we enjoy them lustily and gorge for weeks -- and then, suddenly, I’ve had enough. No more tomatoes. We go on hiatus for months, until sometime in the early dark of winter, a can of garden crushed tomatoes is pureed into a creamy tomato soup, into which we’ll plunge sourdough and Irish cheddar grilled sandwiches. It is then that I’ll start the long climb to spring, and long for next year’s far away harvest.
In the past 24 hours I've made protein and omega 3 packed nut power bars, dehydrated 10 pounds of ripe peaches, prepped cannelini beans for a spread with rosemary, made 2 quarts of green smoothie, repurposed leftover grilled zucchini in a rice paper wrap with a homemade spicy peanut sauce garnished with basil, radishes and carrots from the garden, and made 12 pints of one of my favorite "pickles", curried yellow squash and zucchini. Last week a friend and I canned 60 pounds of tart yellow plums into one of my favorite honey sweetened jams and compotes. But I don't want to talk about any of that. We're trying to eat healthier here at the homestead, so the sourdough baking has been put on pause and mornings are filled with the whir of the Vitamix pureeing its way through a bushel of beet greens, spinach, kale, or carrot tops. I feel great but just can't get all that excited about green smoothies, despite having all the ingredients fresh from the garden. But I can get excited about bon bons. Specifically, mint ice cream bon bons, dipped in a homemade dark chocolate 'magic shell'. No kale, no vitamix involved. A little bit of sugar, cream, mint, a chocolate shell, and a lot of guilt.