Kitchen Garden Work Life Writing

Wanting to Wake Up

Community Pond

At retirement plus 19 days I thought I’d be more productive.

Yesterday, after a shift at my desk and an hour-long visit with a neighbor and a team of surveyors, I took a nap… with long, deep sleep. Groggy when I woke, the better part of the day had escaped me.

More time to heal after a life of work.

It’s not like the main spring work of gardening was doable. Rain and ambient temperatures in the twenties and lower thirties gave me a chill most of the day. My farmer friends take advantage of every micro dry spell to plant a row of seeds or plow a field. A home gardener needs an ample period of dry ground and time to get in seed potatoes, early lettuce, radishes, turnips, peas and the like. Thus far the burn pile remains and the ground is unbroken, indicating there was a garden but little else. On the other hand, when the weather breaks, I’m ready.

Boxes of canning jars pile up as we draw down the pantry.

Last night Jacque and I went separate ways for dinner. She prepared a pasta dish with pasta made from lentil flour accompanied with a side salad. I prefer pasta made with semolina flour. These days a salad is organic greens from a specialty grocer, carrots, celery and home made dressing.  When she finished in the kitchen I made a dish I had been thinking about for a week.

Mother made a simple gravy with bacon grease, flour and milk. My supper was a variation of that.

The gravy recipe is easy: three tablespoons fat, three tablespoons flour to make a roux then two cups milk simmered on low heat until thickened. We cook vegetarian at home so I substituted salted butter for the bacon grease. Mother added cooked hamburger to the gravy but I wanted more.

Dinner preparation began with diced storage onions, bell pepper from the freezer and a four ounce can of sliced mushrooms from the Netherlands sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. When the onions began to soften I added two finely diced cloves of garlic from Kate’s farm and incorporated them into the vegetables.

Next was two cups of Morningstar Farms recipe crumbles stirred in until thoroughly thawed and mixed. When the ingredients reached the proper stage I made a well in the center of the frying pan and added three tablespoons of salted butter to melt. I added an equal amount of flour to make a roux. When the roux had cooked for a couple minutes I added two cups skim milk and stirred the mixture until everything was incorporated. I brought it to a boil and turned down the heat to a simmer for about ten minutes until the liquid thickened.

I toasted a slice of sourdough bread, diced it, and spooned the mixture on top in a big bowl. That and a couple of raw carrots was dinner… with leftovers. Comfort food from memories of Mother.

In the annals of human history yesterday wasn’t much. Two people getting along in a place where we’ve lived for 25 years.

“I feel as if I’m fixin’ come out of hibernation and need to work with friends on something meaningful,” I emailed a friend. “What that is will eventually manifest itself… I hope we can recognize it when it does.”

For now I wait for the weather to break, rest and heal.