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Friday, February 9, 2018

January In Review

Here we are already a week into February, craziness!

In January I made some new year resolutions and so far have kept them!

1. Dry January - best thing I did - and now I am having a dry February, and other than the first week or two of January I have not missed my evening glass(es) of wine! Win Win for Bean.

2. Healthy vegan diet, and exercise - check - in fact I have added strength training and after a month of weights, crunches, push ups, leg lifts etc. I am feeling quite buff and definitely feel stronger and look more toned, this is a fantastic addition to my exercise regime. I still walk or run 5 plus miles most days of the week.  And, Dave has started lifting weights too, so evenings of relaxing with an alcoholic beverage are replaced with a trip to the basement to strength train.

3. The Garden. Well not much happening yet, it is only February, the snow is falling and spring seems a long way off. But Dave did go out and step off the gardens so we can begin to plan what we want to plant and where we will plant it. I plan to grow the foods I eat, I will do a lot of Roma tomatoes, like 50 plants, these will all be canned, I eat tomatoes every day, lunch and dinner. But I would like some Big Boy tomatoes planted in the second garden, maybe half a dozen, so we have some to enjoy fresh from the vine. I will grow Kale and Collard Greens, Turnips, Rutabaga, Cucumbers, Green Peppers, Radishes, all things I eat almost daily. We will grow some potatoes, Yukon Gold, and Red, and I would like to try some of the purple fingerling varieties, and we like to grow sweet onions and a little bit of corn and some melons. I can't wait to get out and start digging over the gardens and getting everything ready, another month and we should be able to get started, potatoes can go in on Good Friday.

4. Not buying stuff - well I did very well in January, only purchases were groceries. February I splurged a whole $4.84 on a book, the used book cost .85 cents, and shipping, from England, $3.99. So, all in all, I am for the most part doing well with this resolution.

What book did I order, Seasons Of My Life by Hannah Hauxhall. I learned of Hannah last week, she was mentioned in British newspapers as she had recently died at the age of 91. So who was she? Hannah was a unique woman with a strong constitution. The only child of Yorkshire farmers, she lived on an isolated farm in the Pennines, her life was hard. Hannah was left to run the farm on her own at the age of 46 after the deaths of her parents and uncle. Life was frugal to the extreme, in 1972 she was living on around two hundred and ninety pounds a year, she had no electricity and no running water. Hannah raised cows for a living, this involved a massive amount of physical work, hauling water by hand, hauling hay, and then just the struggles of day to day living, washing clothes in the stream, hauling her own drinking water. The one luxury she had was an organ in the living room which she enjoyed playing. Hannah became a sort of celebrity when she was featured in a film in 1972 that exposed her frugal, hard working life. The winters are brutal in the Penninnes and Hannah was quoted as saying, "in the summer I live, in the winter I exist". I am looking forward to reading her book. If you go to youtube and search Hannah Hauxhall you can find the hour or so long television program about her life on the farm.

Another goal I have this year is to read, and read, and read. I finished the first in a trilogy of books by Ken Follett, Fall of The Giants, a 1000 page read about World War I, I have the second, equally long book, Winter World, which continues the story in the interim years of WW1 and WWII, then the third book is Edge of Eternity, which I assume is about WWII.  I recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Okay by Gail Honeyman, a very quick read, a very sad book, a good story. I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and highly recommend it. I am now ready The Stories of Muriel Spark, what a fantastic writer Muriel is, she just has such an ability to show just what makes people tick and sees exactly what the real motivations are for why people do the things they do. When I finish with the Muriel Spark book I have Tales of The City by Armistead Maupin, I am looking forward to reading it, I have recently listened to a dramatization of the book on BBC4 radio and enjoyed it very much, so much so I decided to read the book. This is the same reason I stumbled across the Eleanor Oliphant book. I have a book ready for pick up at the library called Harvest by Jim Crace. I heard an interview with the author recently on BBC4 and he was interesting to listen to and although they were speaking about a more recent book he has written, they mentioned Harvest and  I read some reviews and decided I wanted to read it. So my goal to read more this year is going well.

I am going to experiment with making some Kimchi, it is a Korean food, apparently served with everything. Essentially it is fermented cabbage, but not sauerkraut. Using Napa cabbage, a very mild, tender, quite delicious cabbage, some scallions, daikon radish, ginger, garlic, red pepper and coarse salt, and if you like a few leaves of mustard greens, you make the Kimchi. The cabbage, scallions, radish are put in salted water and left to sit overnight, then the other ingredients are mixed together, then added to the drained and rinsed cabbage mixture. The whole lot is put into jars sealed with a lid, and left in a cool place for three or so days, then kept in the fridge indefinitely. The health benefits are for the gut, the microbes produced in the fermenting process are good for gut health. And, it is a tasty, high fiber, low calorie flavorful side dish. Traditional Kimchi has fish sauce in it, I will skip this as it is not vegan.

Well that is all for now,

Bean

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