I'm back to work now, sitting here editing while listening to the guns going off in the distance shooting pheasants.
As ever, New Year approaching has made me think about resolutions and I've spent the last couple of days pondering what sort of year I want to have and what goals to set myself.
I've spent the last few weeks ruminating on just how much last year's events took out of me and Martin in every conceivable way. Despite achieving our dream of buying a smallholding, last year was a washout financially, spiritually and health-wise! We took on a much bigger mortgage and squeezed every last drop out of our savings accounts to finish the old house and pay for the sales and buying process. The goals for reading and exercise came to nought. Moving house totally clobbered me health-wise and the minute the clocks turned, back came the fatigue like...well...clockwork. Martin has a niggly back pain that won't go away and a pulled muscle in his side. However, my plan to lose 7lb almost did materialise - I lost 5lb in the end, which I'm claiming as a victory as my skirts are a lot less tight and I can zip them up.
So 2017 has to be about nourishment. Nourishment of the body, the soul, the mind and the bank balance.
Next week I sit down and look at our budgets for the year. After six months I know roughly how much it costs to run this place now, so I can predict future expenses and budget for them. I've returned to MoneySavingExpert forum after a few years to join one of its saving threads, and committed to saving £4,000 this year to pump up our severely depleted savings cushion. It's a tough but doable goal if we stay focused.
That's one of the easier tasks I've done today. Less easy has been nipping into the kitchen prepping meals for the freezer to ensure every last bit of Christmas food is used and not thrown away.
I had lots of white potatoes left in my pantry basket before the 25kg Christmas tip turned up, so yesterday I stuck them all in the slow cooker and made around 4.5lbs of mash for the freezer plus extra for dinner.
I picked the turkey carcass clean and froze the remaining meat as both slices and chunks for roast dinners and curries/risottos. The bones went into the slow cooker overnight to make around 3 pints of stock. We ate some more Boxing Day ham and mash last night with fresh veggies, and later I will slice and freeze the remaining ham.
Between now and Sunday I have to turn my attention to the mountains of fresh veggies that I already had bought for Christmas plus that which turned up Christmas Eve. The guinea pig has been a helpful chap and almost eaten all of the kale and all but one carrot, so that's those taken care of. The rest of the brocolli will be used with tonight's dinner.
I've done some hassleback potatoes with the 2.5kg of red spuds and roasted the parsnips, both for freezing. The two packs of Brussel sprouts are going to be sliced and fried up in stir fries and for soups. The cauliflower is destined for either cauliflower cheese, soup and/or piccalilli.
The cabbage is another story. The farmer sent a savoy, sweetheart, red and white cabbage, which is a lot to get through in anyone's book. I'm currently cooking up the red cabbage with apple, spices and turkey stock in the slow cooker, and tomorrow i will make up some coleslaw with the white cabbage and remaining carrot, and do a stir fry with the savoy, maybe even think about stuffing some of the leaves to make a altenative dolmada dish. I'll share out the sweetheart cabbage between us and the chickens. Finally, the red onions will be turned into caramelised chutney in the slow cooker, as I have more than enough onions in the pantry to cook with.
Any leftovers/odd bits I'll shred very finely, spice them up and shallow fry them as veggie 'cakes' with some gluten-free breadcrumbs and beaten egg.
Phew. Next year I might have to think about leaving the veg off the shopping list and just going with whatever turns up.