It's summer break!!! My teaching job at the University of MN is finished for the semester and I am off for the summer! This will be my second summer on break, and I'm thoroughly excited about it. While I have the opportunity to teach in the summers, my husband and I have decided that it's better for us if I don't teach. The reason for this is that not teaching in the summer frees me up to do so many other things. It gives me the opportunity to travel with my husband to music festivals and his other gigs. It gives me time to relax and enjoy the quite home-life for a few months. And it also gives me time to grow and preserve a ton of food! For us, these benefits far outweigh the lack of income. We've realized that sitting down to a table full of homegrown produce (throughout the year) is worth a bit of penny pinching through the summer. It's amazing how much our quality of life can improve when we take a few moments to prioritize and choose to live with less, in order to really live with more.
So, summer break is here! Now, some of you may be imagining me spending my days lounging with a book, a blanket, and the sun, and while that will most certainly happen, that's not what the majority of my days will look like. Food is my focus for the summer. Twelve tomato plants are going in the ground in the next day or two, along with peppers, cucumbers, beets, potatoes, beans, summer squash, zucchini, carrots, radishes, lettuce, kale, shallots, and herbs. My plan is to can and freeze as much of that homegrown goodness as I can. I will also be filling my freezer with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries from local farm fields. Whatever I can't grow enough of or can't pick from someone else's field, I will buy at the farmer's market and preserve that. This past summer, I was able to can enough tomatoes, corn, green beans, pickles, soups, applesauce, and jam to sustain us through the winter. I am just finishing up the last of my berries from last summer, and the pesto that I froze will be eaten up until another batch is ready for the blender! It's been AMAZING to have such good, fresh, local food on hand all winter. And I've realized that not having to buy all of those things, has allowed me to spend my grocery money on organic produce and eggs, grass-fed meets and milk, and even some organic pantry items. I've often wondered how people can afford to buy really good food, and now I know one of the ways that it's possible!
So, while I may not be teaching this summer, I will most definitely be working. You'll find me busily working to provide my family with good, wholesome, nourishing food that will last us through the winter that will most certainly come!