Political Fatigue, Grand Solar Minimum, Eye of Round Roasts

Hello Everyone! Back in the swing of life a bit, this Covid time has hit me hard for motivation for much creative right now. Over the summer, we had a good time spending time together, we went to a lot of outdoor, in-nature adventures together and I will admit, I really enjoyed that. The fact that my oldest will be an official adult in just a few short days, I have become very aware that we are at the end of our tight family bond time. Our boys are becoming men and it’s great to see and sad for me at the same time. I know you parents will relate to this! We did some college visits over the summer and he has begun to apply to his top choice schools, it’s all a flurry of activity right now for he and I mostly trying to cross all the t’s and dotting all the i’s to make sure that he’s doing all he needs to do to get there. In this time of Covid, him scheduling his SAT’s and ACT exams has been a complete nightmare. Cancellation after cancellation he was finally able to take the SAT twice and he finally got a date for his ACT for December. A lot of schools are saying they are test optional for next year because it’s been next to impossible to get the exams to actually take place when they are scheduled. Our take on it all? The College Board could have done a lot to handle that situation better an not make so many thousands of students be completely stressed out trying to get these exams done.

Well, like most of our country, I have complete political fatigue. I am so glad that the election is happening today. I have seen the worst of people attacking others because our political views may differ and apparently we can’t remain civil anymore when someone doesn’t agree with us. It’s exhausting for me, just trying to deflect the negative energy coming at me. I have also decided to just stay off the social media to help with this. Facebook has become so centered on this that I take fasts for weeks at a time. I belonged to a community Facebook page for my town, but people became too rude and mean to each other over it that I couldn’t really take it anymore and left the page. I don’t want to know that people like this, my neighbors so to speak (some of whom I consider friends) are so ready to attack each other over different viewpoints. And it didn’t help that the creator of the page fans those flames sometimes and doesn’t block the ignorance and hate. I live in a generally wealthy town where the demographic is well educated and it’s still happening here. I fear for us all and where this is all going to lead us. I want to be wrong, but it’s definitely not popular to have tolerance for someone with a different opinion than our own. What the heck happened to tolerance in our nation these days? And I say we go back to the day when you just didn’t discuss with others who your candidate was. It was like asking someone how much they earned…you just didn’t do this, it was considered rude. I remember as a kid there weren’t all the signs in the front lawns (never mind the pick up trucks with the flag of the candidate flapping out the back). I long to go back to that time.

So, I’m hearing more and more about the “Grand Solar Minimum” these days. Have you heard of this happening to our world that’s beginning now? It’s a lengthening of the cold seasons that will cut the growing season by about 10 days for each half of a degree of decrease in temperature. I am a proponent of climate change. I see that we have the ability to change our climate for the better with the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. The Grand Solar Minimum is a cycle that the earth goes through anyways, we don’t affect this. The last Grand minimum happened in the 1600’s, and it had devastating affects on human population, causing widespread food shortages and famines. There are lesser changes for shorter periods of time that have happened throughout history, these are just Solar Minimums. This one is predicted to last approximately 30 years and food security is going to get a lot more insecure because of it. The further north you live, the worse it will be as our growing season is already so short. I currently live in zone 5, and our growing season is pretty short. So, the recommendation is to make steps and efforts to increase our growing season the best we can. I have been doing some research on the issue of this event and there seems to be enough science behind it for me to perk up and pay attention. So, been putting some thought into a greenhouse situation for us here to not only have a warm place to get a change of scenery in the winter, but also to extend our growing season substantially. I have been doing some reading from experts on this like Elliot Coleman. He has been farming in Maine, including the long hard winters, successfully for decades. So, I’m in the planning stages of trying to solve this problem for our family. There are many ways to accomplish this and this winter will be I am going to get a firm plan in place for a greenhouse here on the homestead.

Do you have something that you cook that is just not successful for you? Any beef roast is my nemesis. I have tried them all different ways, crock pot, braised, instant pot, oven roasted…I have been successful maybe 3 out of 25 attempts. They always end up dry, tough as a catcher’s mitt and flavorless. So frustrating for me because I am a pretty decent cook for the most part. I receive very few complaints from my target audience around here. But roasts, well they just kick my butt. There was a great sale on Eye of Round so I thought okay, its been a while, let’s try again. So I consulted my friend who has a better handle on this than I do. She explained to me that this is kind of a crappy cut and will be tough unless you cook is slow. My beef is usually either flank steak for fajitas, steak tips and all it’s lovely marbling or just plain ground that I create lots of different things with. So, I researched different ways to cook this cut successfully, consulted many cooking pages and cookbooks and finally settled on doing it in the oven. Rubbed it in thyme and garlic and salt and pepper, let it warm on the counter for an hour, then blasted it with a 500 degree oven for 27 minutes (6 minutes per pound, it was a 4.5 pound roast. Then dropped the temp to 170 degrees and let it go until the internal temp on the roast was at 140 degrees. Now, it came out a bit more rare than I prefer, but it was the best roast I ever made! It was topped with a pan drippings, red wine sauce and turned out so flavorful and tender. Brava! Accomplished that goal in life and it was very internally satisfying for me to have finally figured out how to accomplish this. What is your nemesis in life that you’d like to have conquered? I say, during this time of needing to stick closer to home, it’s a great time to try these things for yourself. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and also improves your self confidence a little. You’ve got the time, go for it!

Gonna end here! Hope you are all doing well, staying healthy and safe. Until next time, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all!