Well we all survived Doomsday so I guess I have to start thinking about some New Year’s goals! First I thought I’d copy over my “Goals” list from the old blog. Having a public list like that has helped me stay focused, held me more accountable, even though I sort of forgot about it for a while. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that I have completed/made significant progress on all of them!
1. Eat more seasonally and consume less meat
Eating less meat has been easy, it’s experimenting with beans and grains that’s taking time. We give in once in a while and go carnivore but that’s ok, we’re not going vegetarian. Because we do like meat I have been looking into several local sources for grass fed beef. Because there is so much grass in our Evergreen state, this is a pretty darn sustainable option! Buying half a beef will be on next year’s list (along with a freezer to store is all). For now, fish is our meat of choice. I put in a new pantry shelf that is dedicated to beans, grains and rices and autumn is the perfect time for experimenting with wholesome comfort foods. Working at the farmers market gives me the perfect opportunity to shop seasonally and I’m going to rely on that this fall and winter.
2. Finally use that new butane torch and make creme brulee
Check! Creme brulee is our favorite dessert (my homemade strawberry ice cream might be close behind) and all I needed was the torch to make it at home. My first batch was massive (I don’t know what I was thinking) and we were forced to eat one or two ramekins every day before they went bad. Delicious but happy to give it a rest for a while. Imagine how good it’ll be with my own homemade vanilla extract, backyard eggs and local, organic diary!
3. Learn how to cook in my new dutch oven over a fire
Done! Sort of. It should read “Learn how to cook in my new Dutch oven with briquettes“. I had visions of hanging the pot over the fire all day but no fire is actually necessary. It will take a lot of practice to learn to cook properly directly over a fire with real coals. Who knew! But in the mean time we have a nice fire ring in the back yard now and now that cooler temps are back I may just have to practice my Dutch oven baking! With briquettes.
4. Install a rain barrel system
This is one I’m glad I haven’t completed yet. I had 3 barrels and a very ambitious plan to run a gutter along the fence all the way to the garden. But then I started reading more about rain gardens, grey water (for flushing toilets), and bigger water catchment systems. Last night I attended a dinner where an expert in this field (from ARCSA) gave a talk. Now I’m going to go big! I want a cistern (or two) for irrigation and maybe household use (flushing and laundry) and possibly a filtration system for drinking. He pointed out that while energy is a renewable resource and commended our explorations in such, water is not. Wells are going dry, water tables are dropping and being polluted, bottled water companies are draining rivers and springs and shipping it away. Yup, water catchment will be number one on my 2013 list.
5. Successfully grow ginger, lemons and cranberries in my PNW climate
Well, if you don’t count the successful part, I did ok at best. I planted ginger rather late in the spring and was eagerly waiting for my first sprout. I knew I wouldn’t harvest anything this year but was just eager to see growth. Nothing. I’d poke my finger into the soil, feeling for something. Still nothing. Then, finally, after throwing some lettuce seed on the surface to retain some moisture in the pot, a sprout! It’s still only about 4″ high and needs to come indoors now but it’s growing!
My lemons just are not happy. I need a greenhouse and have to quit moving the poor thing around. Fantastic blossoms! The whole house smells wonderful. Then they drop. Sigh. Will keep at this one because I must have Myer lemons! I have not acquired a cranberry yet. They need rather specific site requirements and I’m not sure where the optimal place is. I may create a space when I’m working on the water catchment project. All three plants will be back on next year’s list.
6. Find ways to make our favorite snacks from scratch (crackers especially)
I am just now tackling this one. Since I have been in a food preserving frenzy this month I’m reading a lot of great books with yummy recipes. So far I’ve just put up healthier snacks, such as dried fruit but I really want to hand make many of the snacks and convenience foods we buy. Most of which are baked. And that will lead me to another goal for next year’s list – learn to bake! But before the year is up I will try a few recipes for crackers (I have one for Cheeze-it type and one for Wheat Thin type) as hubby and I do love to nibble them!
7. Reduce our trash output and begin banishing plastic from the house (as much as is reasonable)
This is two goals in one. It all started with bottled water and plastics (watch Tapped, Plastic Planet and Bag It). I wanted to stop throwing away plastic by stopping it from entering the house. Especially bottled water, but I won’t side track on that (and I reallly want to) and other food packaging. The more I learned about plastics, how toxic they are (there are no “good” plastics) I learned of all the other chemicals that are floating around in our bodies at amazingly toxic levels. I will save the rest of that diatribe for a separate post but it has led me to making more of my own body care and laundry products, thus reducing more plastic we throw away.
An interesting if not slightly yucky project; before you throw your garbage into the trash can, dump it out on a tarp and take a look. Do a trash audit, it may surprise you (ours is 90% food packaging, especially my yogurt cups. Easy to remedy- make my own!). It takes a little practice training yourself to not buy items encased in plastic as we are so habituated in grabbing our usual brands. Making your own solves that problem! I’m looking at you, condiment aisle.
The short answer is – we are still, and probably always will be working on this goal.
8. Be a consistant, year-round gardener
Ok, I’ve kind of fallen down on this one. Now is the time to be transitioning to fall crops and I missed the boat. I have half heartedly scattered some seeds about the garden but I just ran out of steam. A good part of this leads back to goal number one and eating more seasonally. I’m just not sure what we like to eat winter-crop wise. So this season we will experiment with all those squashes and root veggies and see what I might like to grow for next time. For fall I seeded more carrots, spinach, kale, and corn mache. It’s my first attempt so we’ll see what happens!
So there we are. For having half forgot that I even listed these goals I’m quite proud of what I accomplished. And I already have a very long new list for next year!
What did you accomplish this year that you are particularly proud of?