Taking (and Making) Stock

Just 365 days ago I was swaddled up in my little one-bedroom, waiting out the snow and the promise of another job offer.

Now, I’m in my mustard-colored living room, the heat humming and wondering just how this will taste and if I have the time to both make and eat it in the next two days. (Answer: no, I do not. But I do promise a soup post coming up.)

Last year, living in Washington still felt like a dream. This year, I’m living the dream. (Proof: floated down the Skagit River with captain TK and fam in Operation Eagle, where we counted 113 bald eagles in a ten-mile stretch.)

For posterity’s sake, let me take stock of the year. And then, I promise, an analogy, and favorite soup recipes of the year to follow later in the week. Remember how I was going to claim my Washington-ness in 2011?

I wanted to marry the man of my dreams–check! The easiest and most rewarding Mission Accomplished to date.

Kick sirsasna’s booty by eeking out three sets of twenty-five push-ups. Well, let me say this: I am stronger than I ever have been. I’m addicted to this class; I can almost bench as much as the guys in the video and I can do three sets of twelve push-ups with my eyes closed. I can clean-and-press like it’s my job. Today I practiced headstand on my lawn and reveled in how light it felt. Like it’s supposed to, I hear my old yoga teacher saying.

I wanted to perfect the perfect pull of espresso. I found greener pastures, namely, a french press and a coffee class, where we all walked in subdued and walked out wired. The Pantry is one of my favorite new finds.

I planned on getting my writing ass in gear. Here’s the line-up so far: I have two non-fiction query letters in the hopper, I just submitted a guest post today and have successfully fended off anything that impedes my writing time. I am keeping my summer wide open, just as I did in the summer of 2007, so that writing can be my full-time job. Plus, I’ve edited and revised the first sixty pages of Wild Mustard. Slowly…

Wanted to walk on the Olympic Peninsula–check!

Also in the exercise realm, I vowed to run 5-9 miles.  Just last week, my teaching/running buddy and I clocked 7 miles–and we were still standing at the end! I’ve signed up for a ten-mile race at the end of February (eek!).

Between buying a house, moving and throwing a wedding, I’m actually pretty proud of myself that I got all this stuff accomplished. I wonder–what could I get done in a non-frantic year? One where I”m not leaving or returning to the country, or moving states, or hosting a huge party? I’m going to have to go scratch out a 2012 list–oh wait! Already did–the boy and I hunkered down and made The Book of Years, a small journal with our best memories of 2011 and our goals for 2012.

And, just like making good soup, it’s all about the stock. Take the time to make it from scratch–start as you mean to go on, Anne West would say–and you’ll make a bowl or a life that’s delicious.

To many beautiful days and dreams in 2012!

And, while you wait (patiently) for those soups, do take and make stock. It’s so easy and it will keep in the freezer until you accomplish your first New Year goal.

Basic Veggie Broth

  • 5 carrots
  • 5-6 large leeks (green part)
  • 2 onions (yellow or white)
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • a pinch of peppercorns
  • 5 peeled cloves of garlic
  • chard or kale stems from one bunch
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 3 1/2 quarts of water

Combine all the ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, or until all the veggies are soft. Strain and discard the veg. Wait anxiously for the best of 2011 soups. (**Keep the salt light. The stock will reduce further and you will inevietably add salt in your soup recipe.)

**I screw up this reciepe all the time, but the stock always comes out delicious and totally usable. Don’t be afraid to clean out the veggie drawer and toss it in–greens and roots are good!


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