It’s that time of year again. The time I pine for that precious little reprieve known as Spring Break. For a teacher, Spring Break is a most blessed and sacred time in our yearly cycle. However, the meantime, that eternal stretch of time between the here and there, can be a little difficult to endure. This is hardly a new story and I know it’s been told before, but here I am stuck in the meantime, seeking a little solace in the kitchen again.
To say that my kitchen adventures have been uninspired lately would be an understatement. My creativity (culinary or otherwise) is at a complete and utter stand-still. I think a good Spring Cleaning would do me good right now. I am longing to clean out the cupboards, purge the fridge, stock the pantry and peruse my cookbooks for inspiration. However, when you find yourself stuck in the meantime, it’s probably best not to engage in any involved projects or get yourself too inspired. All that pent up inspiration is bound to form feelings of frustration and nobody needs that right now. So, for the time being, I will set aside what I want to do and take a moment or two to simply enjoy some of the immediate chores that need to get done. Such as using up all those organic citrus fruits that have been collecting on the counter the past few weeks.
As I said, my creativity in the kitchen has been in a state of hibernation for quite some time, despite all the lovely, seasonal things happening that usually arouse my sense of renewal and springtime energy. I know I ought to search for some new and inventive ways to use all these beautiful oranges, lemons and tangerines that I have been neglecting, but I am hesitant to arouse the Kitchen Goddess from her dormancy. Not quite yet. So, in the meantime, I will keep it simple. The mister has been doing a fine job depleting the overstock of fresh (and lovely!) lemons we have been receiving in our weekly CSA box. He uses them to make his lemon water concoction every morning and he quite enjoys it. As far as the oranges go, there are just too many for two to consume, I hate for them to go to waste and I can’t get too creative right now, so I decided to simply juice them. It’s hardly inventive, but you can’t go wrong with purely fresh orange juice. It’s like liquid sunshine!
I figure it won’t take too much time to whip up an orange-flavored dressing and maybe some sort of salad to go with it. Heaven knows I could use a few fresh veggies these days! Not wanting to get drawn into the distracting process of inventing a non-recipe of my own, I thought it best to take advantage of someone else’s creative process and employ a proper recipe. I found this citrus-miso dressing from one of my favorite foodie spots. It came together really quick, so I figured I could steal another moment or two to throw together a salad to go with it. I don’t have time for a full purge right now, but my fridge is in desperate need of a good cleaning. This recipe was perfect for using up at least some of the random vegetables accumulating in the fridge. I used this 10-veggie slaw recipe to inspire a salad using vegetables I had on hand, such as kale, bok choy, cauliflower, carrots, radish, fennel, golden beets and celery. I intended to use some of those big, black spanish radishes, but I discovered that I don’t really care for them much, so I left ’em in the fridge (sorry, fellas, I’ll get to you later!).
Oh, I think I needed that little salad break! Not that a good salad break should be considered an indulgence, but it sure can feel like it, when you’re stuck in the meantime. Those refreshing little moments are just what a gal needs to renew her energy and restart a cycle of healthy habits…later. Just a few more days. But in the meantime, I need to get some vegetables fermenting so I have some fresh sauerkraut on hand when that blessed little break begins. And I really do need to bottle that kombucha before it turns to vinegar (it wouldn’t be the first neglected gallon to go sour and I hate to waste another). I don’t usually experiment much with my fermented vegetables anymore. Having found a few favorites I tend to stick with my classics. But I came across this combo idea, so I tried using some of those oranges, the last of the ugly duckling apples and the fennel to my favorite red cabbage mix. We’ll see how it turns out…just a few more days.
Now for the kombucha. Brewing the kombucha is one of those need-to’s that I have really come to enjoy, especially when it comes to the second ferment. I enjoy experimenting with different flavorings and I have discovered several favorites that came about by simply using whatever random ingredients happened to be in my kitchen at the time. Some of our recent fave combos include the Ginger Berry (blueberry and ginger), Raspberry Lemonade (raspberry, lemon and mint), Mojito (lime and mint) and the Berry Bliss (blackberry, raspberry and strawberry). I never get too fancy with my flavors because I fear wasting a batch creating a potential dud. But with all those sweet, juicy oranges being sliced up, I suddenly envisioned the Creamsicle. You know those junky, yet dreamy orange and vanilla popsicles that bring back those carefree childhood summer memories? Yeah, my mom never brought stuff like that into our healthy-food household, but I do recall an occasional encounter with a Creamsicle in the outer realm and I remember it being rather dreamy. So, I should probably give this orange and vanilla combo a try.
The thing about the second ferment is that period of waiting. By the time I bottle the new brew, our current supply is usually depleted which means we have to wait, counting the days until we can refrigerate, then another day to chill. I always look forward to the day I get to pop the top on a new bottle of booch, pour it into a glass and examine the level of effervescence. Carbonation during the second ferment is still a bit of a mystery to me and the fizz factor is always variable. I never know if a particular batch will explode or fizzle and the wondering only adds to the anticipation. Fizzy or flat, it is always refreshing, relaxing and rewarding. There is a certain sort of delight in experiencing a moment that you have been waiting for.
I can’t wait to try that Creamcicle kombucha and as much as a hate to wish away the time, I cannot wait for a little break in my busy routine. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to a little sleeping in, catching up and getting out and about! I always tell the wee ones sometimes you have to wait and that’s a good thing. Anticipation is a healthy sensation. It means you have something special to look forward to. Well, I suppose that goes for grown-ups too. So, for now, I have a nice, fresh salad with homemade miso-citrus dressing to enjoy…I’ll just pack it to go and enjoy a healthy moment of indulgence in the meantime.
Enjoy your meantime.