Whenever we embark on a new endeavor it seems a little crazy. We never do quite as good of job as we want on keeping up with the basic details of home, work, school and parenting, so adding something new always seems a bit illogical. But setting logic aside and going for it can be pretty rewarding.
This project, and the blog associated with it, has been a lot of fun. By collecting for all the recipes in a year, we were pushed to do things we otherwise wouldn’t have done, practically every step of the way.
One of our very first endeavors was collecting elderberries on the MKT trail, on our bikes, right after church, on a blazing hot day. We wouldn’t have done it that day normally, but we made time to do it because elderberries were almost out of season, and we needed it for the recipe. The same story was repeated time and time again throughout the year – for rabbits, squirrels, mushrooms, fish, nuts, berries – we forced ourselves to take time to do things when we were otherwise busy because we had our deadline.
While this typically turned into a positive on the hunting and gathering things, it wasn’t always so for the cook. Many times Ann found herself cooking a weekday night after school, after work meal that was too gourmet for our schedule. But she’s fast in the kitchen, and she made it through it. I felt sorry for her for the stress it was putting her under at times, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the meals. I think for next year we might want to give Ann a break, and take on a challenge like eating our way through everything in the frozen food isle at Schnucks.
When people ask me about the highlights, the biggest plus for me was doing things in the Missouri wild that I hadn’t done before. Duck hunting was a big one. I live about nine miles from what has to be one of the best duck hunting places in the state, and I had never even considered duck hunting before this. Trout fishing was also something new for us, and all of four of us enjoyed that together.
Having an excuse to make time for all the hunting and fishing that I haven’t been doing in recent years was also a huge benefit of doing the project. The pressure to be successful was a little trying, but when I take time to hunt or fish I usually put that pressure on myself anyway, whether or not we have specific meal plans depending on my success.
The downside about self-imposed challenges is the lack of a huge payoff at the end. The completion was a big anti-climatic for us – there wasn’t a final prize or reward. After a year interest had waned in the blog, in both the reading and writing of it. But when we consider everything that we experienced in the past year that we wouldn’t have, had we not had this project pushing us along, it renews my hope for going for it rather than just taking things as they come. There was no big prize at the end, but the payoff was in the process.