Today, I’m not baking anything. I’m only cooking dinner (and it’s going to be pretty basic chicken parmigiana). Today I’m going to talk about a couple of my other passions because while this blog is about my passion for baking and cooking, it’s not the only part of who I am and I feel like sharing about me as a fuller, rounder person than that.
I’m a teacher and so I get a month or so off during the summer. Which is fantastic, but I also have to set myself goals and challenges so I don’t go stir-crazy. We only have one car, so I am fairly limited in scope, and I also don’t want to spend a ton of money, so I have to find other ways to entertain myself. This summer, I came up with #OneTwoPunch.
#OneTwoPunch is my challenge to myself to run for one mile (at least) every day and read for two hours every day. I’ve done one week so far, and I’m so happy with it. I just upped my distance from one mile to two, which sucked because on the run by my house that I do, the mile marker is halfway up a hill I hate, but I sucked it up and did it and it felt great. I’ve read two and a half books so far, and I’m going to try to get through that last half of book three today. I do have some ulterior motives. As a Language Arts teacher, I try to read often and I in particular try and read books that my kids would read. Sure, I read for myself, too, but I spend a lot of time reading YA and children’s lit so that I can have a better wealth of knowledge for my kids. Since I’m not going back to school yet (I don’t know what I would want to do), this is how I see myself helping my kids a little: finding and sharing quality literature. I also am going to get involved this next year with Girls on the Run with one of my colleagues, so I have selfish reasons to be running every day because I want to be in good running shape for when we start the club. Plus, I had been working out four or five days a week, but it’s nice to do something physical every day. The endorphins you get from exercise are so real.
One of the other things I am very passionate about is real food. This is really what started my whole baking/cooking passion. That, and my desire to lose weight. As I sit here and type this, I’m watching Sister Wives on Hulu (shut up, it’s fabulous) and a commercial comes on for KFC Fill ‘Er Up meals. “Chicken” tenders, biscuit and gravy, mashed potatoes, cookie, and large fountain drink. Not only is a meal like this big on calories, it’s big on empty calories. There’s basically no nutrition in a meal like that. And there’s basically no real food. And that makes me mad. It makes me mad that so so many Americans in particular buy and eat this food on a regular basis, stuffing it into their mouths as quickly as possible, usually in lonely, sad situations, like in cars and on the go. That makes me sad.
I am a big believer in real food and the real experiences that food brings. I’m a big believer in knowing where your food comes from and knowing what all of the individual components are. I believe that every kid and person should kill and butcher an animal that ends up on their plate, and I’m kind of upset that I haven’t done that yet. That’s why one of my crazy dreams is to have a goat farm. Or any kind of farm! That’s why I love baking my own cupcakes, because I know exactly what’s in that buttercream, I know exactly what I put in each one. And also it tastes better. This is not to say that I never eat processed food. My biggest weakness, food-wise, is ice cream. I’m not entirely unconvinced I’m not going to die face-down in a bowl of melted Rocky Road, a peanut stuck up a nostril. And I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I am oh so guilty of Ben & Jerry binges. But I would prefer to do everything myself, and in a perfect world, I would eat only things I made, or friends made, or family made, because I can feel and taste the love and devotion that goes into the homemade.
Because I feel so strongly about this, I am a big advocate of farmer’s markets. We have our little local farmer’s market here in Flagstaff, and it’s so fabulous. I love picking up a bunch of carrots and complimenting the grower on the variety of color. I love getting eggs and finding out when they were laid. I love getting honey and having the bee master tell me a smattering of the plant varieties that went into the honey I am ravenously licking off a wooden stick.
On that theme of real food, part of that includes, however unsuccessfully, trying to grow my own food. Hahahahaha. This feels kind of silly to me because this is the fourth year we’ve been up here in Flagstaff and I have yet to eat anything out of my garden. Sigh. It’s been a tad difficult because I don’t really have a green thumb (though not for lack of trying), because Flagstaff can be kind of tough, and also I don’t have an actual garden. I have a little patio with little containers. So things haven’t gone as well as I’d like for my little garden, but hey! That doesn’t stop me! So here I am, year 4, trying again. This year, I’m trying to grow: strawberries, watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, chives, thyme, mint, and oregano. I already picked a bunch of the mint to make mint extract, though I put it in the fridge to cool down the container and the leaves got a bit of a funny color, but I’m hoping that won’t affect the taste. If it does, vodka is cheap. Haha. But here’s my little garden, and here’s to trying to make something grow!