I used the New Year’s Eve storm and the next day’s bitter cold to spend some time in the kitchen. I wanted to “make do” with what was on hand . . .

Use it up

Wear it out

Make it do

Or do without

I rummaged around in the freezer and found two containers from last summer’s garden. One was very “beany” green beans that I had cooked in chicken stock and froze floating in that stock. They gave a whole new meaning to the word stringbean but what they lacked in texture they made up for in flavor.

The other container, with which I am very pleased, was a sauteed mixture of basil, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, tomatoes and onions. I cooked the mix several times during the late summer, always freezing the extra. It was a great remembrance of how wonderful summer eating can be. It was an especially welcome treat on a day with sub-zero wind chills.

I did trudge around outside for a while, stapling bubblewrap on some airholes and windows in the henhouse. I felt so sorry for the girls in there, what with those bare legs. No matter. I still didn’t get an egg for all my effort. As memory serves me, I did, at one time last spring, see a crow leaving the coop with an entire unbroken egg in its beak. I would not have believed it had it not been for seeing it with my own eyes. I am going to be on the alert from now on.

I am a hopeless pack rat. I have tried to use this downtime (no outside work) to organize and toss some of the collectibles I seem to favor. I came across a box of cups with broken handles, for Pete’s sake! At least I didn’t find a shoebox labeled “String too Short to Save!”

`As soon as I got the greenhouse in some semblance of order, I seeded up some items last Sunday afternoon. It was an all together pleasant task. The unheated greenhouse made it up to 60 degrees since it was so sunny, as well as my two male canaries having a vocal duel. I set the propagating mat to 55 degrees and prepared the flats with Vermont Compost, sprinklings of lime, Prostart, and sea kelp, topped off with a bit of Metromix 360. I started red and green romaine lettuce, mache, some big top beets, peas for shoots and tendrils and several flats of wheatgrass. I covered this with two layers of bubblewrap and hoped for the best. I do not believe I ever started things quite this early but the change in light encouraged me to take the risk. I figure I’ll leave them on the mat at 40 degrees if it gets brutally cold. It has to be a better use of electricity than the DVD player.

Here it is, just days before the big Inauguration and I already have a bone to pick with the President-elect. Don’t get me wrong; I think he will be a welcome and necessary change, but please, Tom Vilsack as the new head of the United States Department of Agriculture? He supports Big Agro controlled by huge corporations such as Monsanto, the genetic modification giant. Don’t even get me started on that subject. I would love to see someone like Michael Pollan appointed. If you need a good read this winter, pick up a copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.