Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fantasy Life

So the CSA and the farmer's market both ended last week, leaving me only to copious fantasizing about farming. Now I realize that farming is not an easy life, but right now I'm dreaming of being supported modestly with farming-related work, writing, and AL's business, which he's been wanting to start up in earnest for a while now. Sigh.

So what I'm dreaming of is having a limited-menu restaurant or maybe an agro-tourism bed-and-breakfast. There's a lot of fabulous local food here. It's just that a lot of people don't know where to go or are more interested in going to cholesterol huts than farms. So a restaurant that features local organic food would make this area's bounty accessible to those with more money than time. Really this comes from the fact that every time I make a meal, AL says I should open a restaurant. I've tried to tell him that when you've got wonderful fresh ingredients, you really can't go wrong. But he thinks it's me. Sweetheart.

Realistically, I'm probably better off trying to start a home bakery, since that's what I seem to be good at. (We won't talk about my failed canning attempt yesterday. We'll be eating some tomato sauce in the coming days.) But I love the idea of a restaurant, maybe on someone else's farm or orchard that already regularly brings people in. Here are a couple things that would definitely be on the menu based on family reactions: potato leek soup (hot, so it's not really Vichyssoise), banana bread, zucchini bread, omelettes. I'm going to work on a carrot cake this week because it's Tot's second birthday on Friday, if you can believe it! I'd also have lots of sausage and pork products on the menu because I know several sources of really fabulous sausage, bacon, and ham. Like phenomenal food that would bring all but the super-kosher back to the pig. And of course everything would be organic -- if not officially certified, then at least small o organic supervised by yours truly.

Imagine going into a restaurant -- not a really expensive one or ooh la la one -- and being able to be told about every piece of food -- and knowing that each thing is organic and sustainably grown/raised. I want to go there, which is how I know it's at least a decent idea because those of us who are really into organic and local food know that once you turn your back on CAFO meat, you really limit your take-out and dining options. This place would also have to be extremely kid friendly. I do know of a restaurant that was all or mostly organic that went belly up, but it didn't market itself well, I think. It was too specialized. The trick would be that my eaterie would need to have pretty ordinary food at ordinary prices because most people are going to be used to going to Applebees and in order to stay in business I'd have to rope those people in unless it was located on a farm.

Realistically, I might start developing organic baked good recipes in earnest. A new bakery just started up and they're really good so I wouldn't bother except that when I asked about organic, the baker said that he's really going more in the direction of gluten-free. Of course this is important. But my hook would be that everything is organic. Always. All the time.

Even more realistically, AL and I hope to buy a house and have a big garden and that will be the end of it. But even that's just fantasy right now. But if you like the restaurant or baked goods idea, let me know. I'm reading this great book called You Can Farm by Joel Salatin and he talks about a home bakery as a viable farming centerpiece enterprise. So who knows?

There are other things going on in my life, but this one is absolutely the most fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life. . .I Wish

Today it's easy to remember why I love being an academic. Because at 11am, I was crossing my apartment complex to go talk to the central command rather than working. (I'm not trying to be annoying to all of you who are teaching right now -- I worked through the summer myself, so while you guys were going on vacation and doing fun things, I was slogging away teaching. Now it's my turn for a little R & R.)

It's noon now, and I've taken Tot to daycare, filled out a permission slip (my first mom permission slip!), went to buy canning supplies, bought bulbs and a bulb-planter, and gotten one of those food mills because I refuse to shell out big bucks for a food processor when I might still have one in storage. I paid the rent and the storage.

Instead of giving myself a week off, which I fear might cause a slide into the slough of despond, I have this wonderful list and all these things to do. Right now, I'm running the jars (why is it called canning and not jarring?) as well as my brand-new stew pot in the dishwasher. So I need to begin my new plan of working on scholarship and creative work. I'm not going to go crazy and drive myself too hard, of course. But I am going to get to work. How exciting! And there are all these apples that need to be cored and softened into applesauce and then "put up." (Really I want to make apple butter for Christmas gifts this year, but I think I don't have enough apples for the recipe. Also there was a terrible late spring freeze that really ruined a lot of the fruit crops in my area, so my wonderful apple orchard is sparse in their offerings -- to say nothing of the astronomical price of Honeycrisps. Mostly I got Galas, which are supposed to be wonderful for applesauce. We'll see how it goes.)

That's really all. I'm working on an article I'm determined to be done with by the end of the calendar year, and I want to make significant strides on a project that has long since been stagnant. There is also work stuff to do: committees and pet projects. But I don't want to deal with that today. Better get to work before I blog the day away.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hello Fall!

So I'm back, or almost back. I've turned in most of my grades. And for unbloggable reasons, I'm not teaching during the fall quarter. So I've already, tonight, a mere hour after I turned my grades in electronically, made lists and lists of what I want to accomplish in the next three months.

I've been very burned out -- at least on teaching and service. I had a crap class. The other class was new to me, the first time I taught it. I had some great students in there, and it went decently. But with the article I was writing and the annual report early in the quarter, I got behind on things and never really caught up. These students were really great about it. But the situation also made me feel like crap, even as I was taking mental health days.

Perhaps it was just that I starting settling into my second year -- a colleague noted a slump in hir own second year. Or maybe it was my grandfather dying and all that and not having the time to deal with it. There were a bunch of other things too that made me disengage from work: the fact that morale is so low there right now that paranoia and cynicism are prevalent; crap teaching; disheartening service; Absurdist Tot developments; and a growing love of all things gardening to the point that I really wanted to be gardening or cooking all the time and suspecting that I'd chosen the wrong path for my life and now I'm stuck with all these student loans and no way to go and live simply and close to the earth somewhere.

Interestingly, I have an insane list of things I want to get done in these three months, but even though there is an intimidating number of items, I feel tired (now) but excited to be able to focus finally on those things. I'm planning to spend a certain decent amount of time each week on scholarship and creative work. And then there are, unfortunately, even now some service things I need to do. Usually I don't mind service -- am even excited to be part of something larger than myself -- but when I think of doing these things, the wind immediately sucks out of my sails. But what is noteworthy here is that I'm not burned out on my scholarship and creative work. That's good. That means that I probably did not make the wrong choice of career.

I've been sort of haphazardly reading blogs, sometimes preferring not to read academic blogs because I'm burned out on academia. I just don't even want to hear about teaching or students or dumb colleagues sometimes. Because I just don't want to spend my personal time on hearing about the academy, I've been checking my favorite blogs less often instead preferring to read about homesteading and small farming blogs, learn more about FarmAid and Homegrown.org. Because of all this, I'm wondering about whether Absurdist Paradise should morph to reflect these new interests. Partly I'm thinking that the blog has to change or else soon I'm going to feel disengaged from it because it represents only a part of my life. This wouldn't be so bad but I feel sort of weirdly closeted at work because I can't talk about my current passions, so I think if I did that here that I would soon disengage from the blog too. So there'll either be more food and farming talk more here at AP or the blog I started for that several months back will become more important. I don't know yet. Y'all could weigh in on your preferences.

So that's what's going on here on Absurdist Paradise Farm. (Oh wouldn't that be awesome!) Glad to be back, neighbor.