Monday, August 15, 2011

Bacon, Smoked Ham, Ham Hocks, Liver Paté even, but no Terrine!

Box one of two.
Many people ask me, "How do you do it all?" Meaning, how do I find the time to do all the things I do, and write about them, and photograph them. Well, I often reply, I don't! Not all of it. There's so much I don't do. Like cleaning. And calling my friends more. And reading. I'd also like to point out that most of the things I do are very easy, once you get them into your routine. Bonus, if you really like making yogurt or bread or jam. Some people don't.

A few weeks ago, I started getting really exhausted. My back started bothering me a lot. Gardening and lifting my thirty-pound toddler had been taking a toll. I took out a few yoga videos from the library because I knew what I needed was some good stretching. As I read the back covers of the DVDs, I thought disdainfully: I don't have time for yoga!

And then I had this second thought: Seriously? I don't have time to not do yoga! It's funny, because I'm talking like some high-powered executive. Well, let's be real, shall we? I happen to be a homesteady-obsessed stay-at-home mommy of one toddler. Not exactly Soulemama, right? Rather rationally, I thought to myself: you need to cut something out. And immediately it came to me, clear as a bell: the blog.

I love the blog. I don't want to kill the blog, I screamed! Let me tell you what the blog does for me. It wraps up a few of my favorite things--writing, photography, food-- in one fell swoop. It also deeply satisfies a few other cravings I have. That of connecting with people who care about similar things, and the documentarian in me, so I can go back and see what I made and how I made it. But the quick and dirty fact about the blog, and it sounds so horrible, but this thing is not a paying gig, you know? And there are some things I need to be focusing on, that take precedence over something that is solely a self-centered pleasure.

Once I stopped obsessing about the blog, I suddenly felt a wave of relief. And then panic. And then a realization that I had been blogging for almost two years with no break! Maybe I'm just tired, I thought. Maybe I need to recharge. I'm not sure I can do this was a thought. Well, I'm not going to end my blog. I actually can't! Not because I think anybody will miss it. But, because I will miss it. Not because it's important to anyone. But because it's important to me. I'm trying to figure out how to make sure it doesn't take over my life, and that means keeping my nose out of Twitter and Facebook, much as I like to socialize. And maybe not posting every little victual I cook up.

And that brings me to this month's Charcutepalooza challenge. One of the things I also realized about having this blog, is that I've become a better cook for it. Joining Tigress' Can Jam and then Charcutepalooza really have pushed me to strive a little; something that's really not in my nature. I'm more of a perservere-er. (Very similar to the word preserver!) But this month's terrine challenge I really had no gumption for, even though I really wanted to make something, perhaps this tomato terrine from Bon Appétit. I was a little too overwhelmed, having ordered a half hog from Meiller's Slaughterhouse in Pine Plains.

After curing and smoking ten pounds of bacon, 3.5 pound of hocks, and a twenty-two pound ham, and making two huge loaves of liver paté, I was sort of exhausted (though it looks like I may be in luck for next month). Maybe that's what tipped me over the edge. That and the heat we were having at the time. Now it's been gorgeous out, the humidity and haze has lifted, and the air is clear and crisp making each leaf on a tree stand out. Every blade of grass looks distinct. The sky is blue with puffy clouds, the trees rustle in the breeze, and it gets cool at night which makes sleeping all that much more sweet. It's a small taste of autumn right around the corner. I'm looking forward to writing about it. Just a little.


  1. Funny that I haven't seen you and had the same realization about this just wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.
    I got up this morning and did make a tomato terrine (also funny, because I never even saw the BA recipe). I am going to go unmold it and see how it worked out...

  2. Thanks for sharing and the honesty! I've also been struggling with what to drop from my life and sadly, it may be the retail side of uncanny. Preparing each week for the market is exhausting and taking away from the sheer joy of experimenting with preserves. Besides, I can't imagine how busy life will be with a newborn and 2-year old!

    In the meantime, while I rest my feet and stare at all the recipes I should be trying, I'll enjoy your beautiful photos and your reflections.

    Here's to hoping we find that work/life/passion balance. :)

  3. phew-i feel winded just reading this! good to aim to keep in balance though. (my blog gets some attention some times, and less attention other times...)
    i do enjoy your meat descriptions here - i just finished some leftover bacon-wrapped wild hog tenderloin my bro-in-law grilled. yum.

    ps don't kill your blog [please] - 'tis lovely. BUT don't let it take the wind out of you either...

  4. so glad you decided to keep blogging! I would have very much missed reading your voice. hang on loosely right now if you need, but don't let go... :)

  5. Hang in there; blog when you can and when it is fun for you! I agree, I was tired just reading this :)

  6. Well, life is all about balance. And bacon. But obviously not terrine.

    Glad you are keeping your foot in the pool; and after all - winter's coming! Just think of all the free time (you see my eyes rolling, right?) :)

  7. Good choice. I'm glad you didn't say goodbye. How's yoga? Take care, Denise

    Tigress- I like the 38 Special reference (well, not sure if it was your intention, but with a simple swap of hang for hold, it was a reference for me).

  8. Winnie - Isn't that funny? Gosh, I really flagged. I know terrine isn't even that hard, but I just didn't have it in me. I saw your terrine. Good on you! You did it! And it looks delicious.

    Uncanny/Lindsay - Really?? Oh, no! It's true, I can't imagine how busy you'll be, too. I hope you are feeling good and strong! Honestly, I think it all started when he gave up the nap. I can get a lot done in two hours! There is something to be said about sheer joy. Thank you for the well wishes, and I hope I still "see" you around once the babe has arrived!

    Pen and Paperie - Total yum! That sounds great. And thank you for the kind words. Sometimes I get dramatic in my life, and things need to end! And then I realize most things can be changed for the better.

    Tigress - It means a lot that you commented on this meat-heavy post! Thank you. Will do as you suggest. ; )

    Allison - Funny that that was so hard for me to figure out! You are so right!

    Kaela - Indeed. And yes, I keep thinking about how BORED I'm going to be in Winter. Starved for interaction, people will be begging me to quit.
    ; )

    Denise - Thanks! Yoga is good. I'm getting it in a few times a week. Used to do it every day. And re: that 38 Special quote. I sort of started it. I love it. So. Funny.

  9. I hear yah! I've been on overload this month and had a bit of a meltdown the other day. The workman are still a little wary around me Likely a good thing as they've been a lot tidier lately:)

    Glad you decided to blog still. We'll take whatever you have to offer but you come first.

    You also reminded me to contact my piggy guy and get the 411-can't wait.

  10. So glad you posted! I was missing you! =) You know I so hear you on the something just has to go thing. Yowsa.
    And, terrines? who needs 'em?

  11. I totally know what you mean, only my one toddler is 40 lbs. Well, and he's not really a toddler anymore. I used to walk 4 miles a day nearly every day of the week. Now, my knees hurt a little and I have no appetite (due to the lack of exercise, not that I'm sitting around all day mind you) and I feel like I don't MAKE the time to take care of myself. I'm tending to all the cultures and stuff...

    I feel the same with blogging too - and am glad you feel the way you do since it makes me feel better, like I'm not taking myself too seriously by thinking of it as work. I feel like I've learned a lot from you! You are always busy and productive, and I admire you a whole lot. Even if you post less frequently, I look forward to reading you for many more years!

  12. After feeling guilty for not having posted in a few weeks, I appreciate your honesty! Sometimes I feel the same way, but then, I am motivated again for the connections you mention, and what I learn. (And frankly, most people I know in the "real world" can only listen so long to my stories of how I make yogurt). I am glad that you'll still be blogging (no pressure! ha!) and I'll still look forward to your posts as I learn so much from them, even if they are less frequent.

    As for the 30-pounders--they just get heavier, I'm sorry to inform you ;-)

  13. Julia,
    I loved what you wrote about the whole blog thing. It can so easily become a beast that needs to be fed. Butas you so beautifully put it, if we can just remember that the beast actually feeds us too. That's why we do this, right?
    Plus you do have all sorts of other people who totally dig what you do and are appreciative of your food, voice, and attitude:)

  14. adventuresindinner - Thanks, Jane! I think a lot of people are having quite a time right now! Especially if you in the preserving thing...

    Meg - Making room in this life is so hard! Who needs terrines indeed! I'd much rather read a book. : )

    Rebecca - That was one of the things that was in my mind, but didn't vocalize. The taking care of everything and not taking care of me. And that me is pretty important! It takes care of everything else! How can we always forget that? And thank you for all the kind words, it means so much and you know I am sending it right back atcha!

    Sara - Nooo! They can't get bigger! Actually, I welcome it, then I won't have to carry him! I'm very short, so he's already half my size. Yipes!

    You know, I noticed you hadn't posted lately, but I always "see" you on my (other) favorite blogs, and it makes me happy that we swim in the same circles. And goodness, yeah, I started my FB page because some friends were getting sick of my food blathering!

    Erin - Thank you for those very kind words! There is a balance, isn't there, of finding out how much something is taking and whether it's giving. I guess I needed to stop for a little bit to actually find that out.

  15. Julia, it's good for the whole family when mommy feeds her soul by doing what she loves to do! Keep it up sister. X

  16. julia, my little blog does not compare to your wonderful and thorough writing. i run what ever i think might be some worthwhile idea, take some pictures and am done. i don't publish but may be 7 times a month, if that.
    i have always admired your efforts, what with a garden (i buy my stuff) and your kid and the rest of it all, i was/am amazed at your fortitude. even now that you lay off the blog for a few, you do the charcutepalooza. you're amazing. yes, you must do your yoga. yes, you must sit and put the kid aside and read. yes, you positively must take care of you. no one else will.
    anyways, i just wanted to toot my horn and of course hope you'll be back. until then, be well, enjoy what ever is left of the summer.
    are the figs trees yet?
    my best,