This weekend marked yet another milestone in what has unwittingly turned out to be the “Year of Trying New Things” for me. The tough economy (and we’ve had it pretty rough here in Michigan) has had an interesting effect—it’s pushed me to try new things. Rather than hunker down and try “business as usual”, I’ve noticed a willingness to say “What the heck? Let’s give it a try.”
For example, I planted a kitchen garden this year. No big deal, you say? Everyone’s doing that. Well, it’s in the front yard…in a well-manicured suburban neighborhood. At our previous home, I tended a small garden (long before it was fashionable) and loved it. The home we live in now isn’t situated for a backyard garden, so for 11 years, I just sucked it up (well, OK, I whined a bit about missing fresh tomatoes and herbs) and didn’t plant anything. There were a multitude of reasons it wouldn’t work out—the sun exposure was all wrong, we didn’t have the right soil, it would be too much work.
Finally, my loving but exasperated husband said, “Just plant it in the front yard”. After some creative springtime landscaping, we now have a lovely 3 foot x 6 foot garden nestled into the side of a decorative berm surrounded by a white picket fence and accented with brightly colored marigolds.
Which brings me back to this weekend’s milestone. Using produce from my garden, I tried three new recipes, which I’ve been calling my “3 P’s”—Pickles, Pesto and Pepper Jelly. The Canning Trio, of sorts. For years, I’ve wanted to learn to can. My mom did tons of it when my brothers and I were kids. Sure, I helped out, but didn’t really have a clue how to get started. So, I schooled myself (wonders of the Ball Blue Book and the internet!) and now have several jars of freshly made canned goods to put on our shelves. (See photo at left.)
As I reflect on this accomplishment, it occurs to me that the3 P’s could also be an alliterative ode to trying new things: Perseverance, Patience and Practicality.
After a few snafus in preparation, my resolve was flagging. I found myself thinking, “Is this really worth it? It would be SO much easier to just snag a jar of Claussens next time we’re at the store.” But I reminded myself for the reason of the exercise—to learn how to do this. After a brief (self) pep-talk, it was back to the canning.
Using a “canning bath” to process pickles requires patience. Lots of it. You are literally watching a giant pot, and waiting for it to boil. Now I know where that old saw “a watched pot never boils” comes from. But eventually it did boil and progress was made.
When trying something new, there’s a time for practicality…and it’s not when you first have the notion of embarking on a new adventure. The time for practicality is long after you’ve given it a whirl. After you’ve celebrated, reflected, and analyzed. Then you can decide, “Was it worth it after all?” Most likely, even if the attempt was a complete disaster, there was something of value you could take away.
So, what have you tried lately that pushed you out of your comfort zone? Is there anything you’ve been putting off because it’s too impractical…or seems too difficult? Take inventory…you might just find a little “canning project” of your own, waiting to be undertaken.