We have managed to get most of our harvest in to the freezer, into jars, into baggies once dehydrated and onto a magnificent list.
The list, by the way, is the tool that keeps all this work that we do worthwhile. I'm not the sort who rummages around in the freezer or the cupboard wondering what to pull out for the day. I go into the grocery store and the market with a menu plan, a list of what is needed for the next week or two, and for those of you who are list phobic, the list is in geographical order. It is a map.
At the market, our first encounter is the fish. Upstairs, before the cart gets too heavy are baking, greek goodies, soap and deodorant. Back down the stairs and we encounter Boates apples, pears, ciders, vinegars and garlic. On to the beer, backtrack a touch for the butcher, the other butcher, sweep back to the left and we find our man Pat, of Pat's Preserves who keeps us in pickles and red pepper jelly all winter. Then we go on a bit of a ramble for vegetables. Different vendors, different offerings, so we need to browse the centre a bit. We conclude our journey with chicken, feta, gouda cheese and finally the eggs. And that is more or less the route that my list takes.
Last week, I forgot my list. Near panic attack, but at the market (so far that is) vendors stay where they are and if they will be moving, they can usually give us a few weekends warning. Had I lost my list at the grocery store, it would have been like crossing the River Styxk to Ellysium and wandering amongst the recently dead for months on end until I found where the cat food was placed this week. The grocery store is my nemesis. If I need nothing but peanut butter, it won't be on the shelves. If I need milk and peanut butter, one of those two items won't be on the shelf. I loathe the grocery store. So I need a list so I can circle all the missing items for the next grocery store, hoping they will have said items.
But the greater pleasure and benefit from the list is that all my thinking is done for me. I have looked ahead at the coming week and spied that we will be having massive family obligations on one day, on another, someone won't be home for dinner, on another, it coincides with an early something or other. I can figure out in advance where I want an easy meal, where there is time for a full meal, where I can get away with a take-out, and where left overs will fit in nicely.
Which brings me back to my incredibly detailed freezer/jar/dehydrated list. This year, after two previous versions, I have brilliantly broken down the list into Months, with the categories of “Ingredients”, “Side dishes”, and “Deserts”. Before, the list was a massive inventory and I would attempt to scratch off a bag of corn every time I took one out of the freezer. That is, if I had my glasses and a pen with me. The reducing inventory method was useless.
I have great expectations for this year's list. I don't begin using the it until November, October still has so much in season. Fresh produce is still a very good option. In November my ingredients list consist of frozen beans x 2/roasted peppers x 2/cauliflower x 2/broccoli/tomatoes x 2/ eggplant/corn. As I sit with my tea on a Thursday morning, contemplating the likelihood of me making a lasagna or not (not), I can search the list and see what I need to buy at the market. I can gloat at how much money I have saved by buying in season and how much better my corn will taste than the Green Giant's.
The cat has abandoned the window again in favour of my pile of felt. Toe warm up time and seeing as it is Thursday (list day at coffee break time) I had better get the kettle going.