Monday, May 24, 2010

It is almost CSA time

This past weekend we went out to Tantre Farm's open house and while the kids played on the swing and visited with the chickens, I realized that I need to get my act together since the first share is only weeks away.

The first order of business is to dig through the freezer and see what is left. I'm pretty sure I used up all the packages of blanched kale and beet greens, but I think there are still some frozen green beans and roasted red peppers that haven't been eaten and maybe some more purple potatoes lurking in the bin of the "beer fridge" (or "beer and potato fridge".)

The other thing I just started (and hope will be helpful) is some recipe preparation for this year's share. Now that I have a better idea of what will be in the box each week, I need to get a selection of recipes prepared so that I don't blank out and freak out when I see the bounty piled on my table. Of course, I can always refer to last summer's Tantre posts and remind myself which recipes were real winners (and hopefully also remember which ones weren't...). But I've also started a Google Doc called "CSA recipe ideas" and have it organized by vegetable. I browse a lot of cooking blogs and now, whenever I come across a recipe that sounds interesting in the produce-consumption department, I add it to the document with a link to the recipe. So if there is an inundation of peas one week, I can be reminded of Sesame Roasted Snap Peas or Sauteed Radishes and Snap Peas with Dill.

I've been feeling a little guilty at how I seem to always turn to the internet for recipes these days so I'm also going to take a little time and dig through my cookbook collection and see what looks good in there--then tab it with a post-it note and add the recipe to the document. Maybe I'll also discover that some of my cookbooks have outlived their usefulness and I can liberate a little shelf space.

Are there any other suggestions people have to prepare for the CSA bounty that will soon be upon us?


I don't head out into the wilderness without a map. Well, I did once in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and, despite having a good sense of direction, got totally lost and was lucky to find my way back before nightfall. I remember being confused, a little freaked out and yet still hopeful that I'd stumble across something familiar.

That one time was enough for me to learn my lesson about the importance of maps.

So why has it taken me so long to figure out that I need a map for my writing?

I guess I thought that I knew enough from all my years of endless reading and class attending. But plot structure does not come via osmosis and I'm discovering that the way I've been writing is the equivalent of a hand drawn map on the back of a napkin when heading into treacherous territory. Because really, is there any territory more treacherous than my thoughts? (For those of you who have happy relationships with your thought processes, more power to you. However, my thoughts and I battle each other regularly.)

I recently had this "ah ha!" moment and have put the brakes on the work I've been doing on my book. In the week or so before the "ah ha!" I spent way too much time navigating, getting lost, moving chapters around, questioning turns in the plot and screwing up.

It was not the most satisfying week of work. In fact, I was a big time grump.

But now I know it was because I was lost. And yes, the feelings were remarkably similar to what I felt when lost in the forest except for the fact that it was all happening inside my head and I had plenty of tea and cookies* on hand to help me feel a little better.

So I'm backing up. I've pulled a few books that I admire off the shelf and I'm mapping them.** I'm re-reading them for structure and charting their movements chapter by chapter. And then I'm going to use them as models to map my own book. I can now actually say that I'm looking forward to trying again with my map in hand. It's kind of like getting myself psyched up to climb a challenging mountain, but I won't be going up it empty handed this time.
*Speaking of cookies, I thought I made good chocolate chip cookies, but the newest chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cook's Illustrated in which you brown the butter before making the cookie batter, is amazing.
**One really good side effect of the mapping project is that I've discovered the central idea for my next book and plan to have a map in hand for that one before NaNoWriMo rolls around.