2011 Retrospective

January: This month got 2011 off to an extremely rough start. Nolan was diagnosed on the autism spectrum on the 18th, and our lives began a significant change. Still, I managed a few interesting recipes over the month by way of distraction, notably cinnamon roll muffins, oatmeal souffle, and a labor-intensive pasta dish called a rotolo.

February: This was the month I shared Nolan’s diagnosis with the blog, to the tune of coconut flour crepes. I also made a Moroccan b’stilla and worked with phyllo dough for the first time.

March: Looking back, I seemed to favor ethnic foods this month: Mediterranean meatball pitas, paneer pulao, and home-corned Irish brisket, among others. Nolan celebrated his milestone third birthday with s’mores cupcakes, and he and I packed up for our big move to Colorado at the end of the month.

April: The Colorado move meant lots of adjusting and lots of phone calls and appointments, all culminating in Nolan’s start in an intensive needs preschool classroom, much to my great relief. I became involved with a brand-new community garden in our neighborhood, officially launched my own (very) small card business, and even found time to celebrate the promise of spring with sprouting seeds and a fiddlehead fern quiche for Easter.

May: This month I honored my mother and Nolan’s hardworking teachers with baked goods, canned our first jam of the year, cooked fish cheeks for the first time, and helped get our garden plots more fully planted. Outside of the kitchen, I got to be a vendor at my very first craft fair, and took a tour of Windsor Dairy to sign up for raw milk shares!

June: Continuing on the path toward nourishing foods this month, I conquered my personal fear of cod liver oil, dug in the dirt, and honored an elderly friend with a tea party of fresh crumpets, lemon curd, real clotted cream, and lilac syrup.

July: This month we celebrated Nolan’s very first plane ride with cheese crackers and sugar cookies, and came back home to a garden that had finally started growing exponentially. I also experimented with my stovetop smoker for the first time, found a way to enjoy parsnips, and made the most stunningly decorative cake ever.

August: In August, all that hard work in the garden started paying dividends, mostly in the form of cucumbers and lots of zucchini at first, but eventually beans, heirloom tomatoes, and even some weeds ended up our dinner plate! I finally mastered the art of hand-whisked aioli, updated a personal childhood favorite, and threw myself into dietary interventions for my son, even making a bunch of secretly healthy candies.

September: This was a marathon canning month, thanks to the grape harvest—we made juice, jam, syrup, pie filling, jelly and even vinegar, due in large part due to a jury-rigged jelly bag. Somewhere along the way, I found time to maintain the garden, grill cedar-plank salmon, smoke barbecue pork ribs, and bake some stunning croissants.

October: Another big month for preservation: pink applesauce, honeyed plums, and wild plum jam among the highlights. I used up a surfeit of raw milk making cultured butter and other goodies, made chocolate syrup with honey, and baked the first two loaves in what is destined to be a long family tradition of swirly povitica.

November: This month saw the conclusion of the gardening season, and, thankfully, the end of the canning season as well! I finally put out a post about home-fermented vinegars, and took some time to reflect on everything I have to be grateful for.

December: I was so busy this past month that I barely had time to write on the blog. Holiday gift-making and Christmas card orders filled the first few weeks, and then Nolan and I braved the rush to fly back to Oregon for Christmas at home with my husband. We did sneak in a little play time with peanut butter playdough and s’mores oatmeal first, though!

What a roller coaster of a year! My life changed this past year in almost every possible way, and I found myself challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally, but I think I have emerged all the stronger for it, and I can honestly say I am looking forward to all the challenges and triumphs to come in 2012. We are starting to plan the garden already and clearing table space for flats of seedlings. Nolan is about to begin hippotherapy, which should be really fun to watch, and of course we are continually looking into therapeutic options for him. I have signed up for some continuing ed classes on subjects surrounding aromatherapy and natural skin care, and am exploring educational possibilities in nutrition therapy as well. I am also stepping up my commitment to a running schedule, which I began successfully in November; I’m already down six pounds, purchased my first pair of real running shoes, and am seriously considering signing up to run the Colfax Marathon in May!

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