Alamanac: the week of January 1

Each Friday, I’m aiming to write a smaller post on a variety of things that I’ve thought about over the week. I’m calling it my “Almanac,” a fitting reference to both Writer’s Almanac and Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.

  • The cold frame is protecting the puntarelle, raddichio tardivo di treviso and quarantina broccoli that I’m growing… problem is, I think I planted them all too late and they’ve gone dormant before they could produce tasty winter greens. The puntarelle makes bulbous stems to eat, the raddichio makes ivory-colored leaf stems and the broccoli… you know what that is. Luckily, the first two plants are members of the chicory family, which means they’re perennial. They’ll still be alive in the spring and I’m hoping I’ll get to enjoy them as a very early Spring treat.
  • I received a wonderful fireplace spit roaster from my wife’s parents. I’ve been wanting one for a long time and I am finally getting a chance to try this method of cooking. Preliminary observations: it takes a lot of time and fuel to use. No wonder the enclosed oven was such a breakthrough! Using a fireplace to cook is way fun, but it’s a rotten thing to depend on.
  • I have two New Year’s Resolutions this year. The first is to post regularly here (Blog post on Tuesdays, Almanac on Fridays). The second is to host dinner guests every Wednesday. That means fifty-two dinners with friends, and I’m really looking forward to that. I understand and respect people who say that they don’t make resolutions, but there’s plenty to commit to if you want to slightly better your life. Write thank-you notes or send birthday cards, read one poem a week, listen to one album each week without doing something else at the same time.
  • I’ve also been enjoying listening to records by the fire:

    Seed catalogs are already coming in the mail and I couldn’t resist laying down, putting on the headphones and enjoying the remnants of a fire. I was listening to Brian Eno’s Ambient Music For Airports and while I don’t admit that I get what he’s doing, it was a pleasurable listen.
  • We’ve had such a mild winter here that my fava beans are already coming up! I thought I was so clever when I planted them on November 1st, thinking that they would lay dormant all winter and then come up as soon as they could in the spring. Fooled again. They’re three-inch tall vigorous plants. I am currently deciding whether I want to build a small hoop house to protect them or whether I want to just buy more favas to plant in the spring. Either way, I want my beans.
  • The Cheddar cheese I made back in November is covered in mold. This is intentional!moldy cheddar
     I didn’t want to dip it in wax, so I did something called “clothbound cheddar” or “bandaged cheddar.” The idea is that you coat it in a thin layer of lard or other solid fat and then wrap a layer of cheesecloth on it. Mold grows on the outside, but it doesn’t penetrate the cheese. This makes a rind that protects it and lends a few funky flavors. This cheese is going to age for at least six months or a year, so it will be awhile before you see a blog post on how I made it.