I’m not gonna lie, 2011 was a bitch of a year. Not the worst I’ve ever had. But in the past, bad years were personally bad. 2011 was trying for, well, everyone. Starting in February of last year it was intensely chaotic, full of upheaval and what felt like internecine war around the globe. From fights in our own communities to Arab Spring, 2011 was a series of unending gut punches followed by hardscrabble brawls.
By December I was pretty exhausted. Put on top of that holiday duties, both personal and professional and by the time guests left on Christmas night I was kind of on the verge of a breakdown.
So for the next 8 days I did as much of nothing as I could stand. I read three books. I slept in every day. We ate leftovers and ordered out. We went to three movies and rented another 10. One day we didn’t get out of bed until after noon (though I don’t think I slept past 10 once.) I got sick–everyone got sick–and nursed my symptoms. I ignored phone calls and emails from friends and work associates alike. Basically I engaged in mental bed rest. It was good.
I feel ready for 2012. As one of my twitter folks wrote, 2011 is dead, let’s not speak of it again.
By yesterday, January 2nd, the legal holiday for New Years Day I was bored and my engines were revving. I finally felt myself again. So I engaged in some projects. My family did an amazing–AMAZING–job with Christmas presents for me this year, so I can’t say that my favorite presents were anything but what they got me. However, in terms of project starts, two gifts I got myself stand out. First, this book:
I highly recommend you get this book by Jennifer Reese if you are at all interested in cooking. (She also has a blog called the Tipsy Baker (love the name)) Love. LOVE. LOOOOOOVE this book. She spent a year making a bunch of staples and analyzing the value and ease of making vs. buying. Her introduction describes a grocery store paralysis which I am all too familiar with. That moment where you weigh the cost value, nutrition value, environmental value, taste value, etc etc of various foods, leading to indecision and occasionally complete surrender and running out of the store empty handed. She tries to answer the question make it or buy it, rating various projects by difficulty (one of my favorites “you’ll want to bludgeon yourself with your rolling pin half way through”) and the economy. She is a fine writer, approaches the topics with great humor, and covers everything from bread to prosciutto to back yard chickens. So you can see why I love it. I sat up until 2 am one night reading this cover to cover. Many of my projects this year will come from this book. I may finally get chickens. Or bees. But not goats.
I kicked off the year by trying her bread recipe (delicious and NO KNEADING!) and yogurt (totally failed. I’m trying again tonight).
The second project centric gift you’ll be hearing more about is a pressure cooker. I made chili one night that cooked at temp for 8 minutes. EIGHT MINUTES. It was delicious. I love my pressure cooker.
I’m excited to embark on another year of living life intentionally, savoring every day. Thanks for those of you who read along, especially those still with me after the awful, awful waning months of 2011. Hopefully I’ll have more time to play in the kitchen and post about various and sundry adventures in 2012.
I’ll post about my yogurt and bread experiments as well as my cello/khalua making venture (I think it made lovely Holiday gifts) later. For now, I’ll tell you that I kicked off 2012 by trying these dehydrated oranges from Well Preserved. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them (pressure cooker perhaps) but they were so pretty and we had a lot of clementines sitting around so I couldn’t resist. If anyone has any ideas for these, I’d love to hear them.