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Friends, welcome to Jam and Idleness! I’ve just now put my first blog, Bookphilia, to bed and am really pleased to be officially launching this new venture. Check out the about tab for a little breakdown on what inspired this change.

Over at Bookphilia, you can see what my favourite books of the last year were. The Victorian element in my reading has been heavy and promises to remain so; I’m currently almost finished Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers and I’ve already purchased Dr. Thorne, the third book in his famous Chronicles of Barsetshire.

Reading Trollope has always felt like the literary equivalent of being wrapped in a warm blanket and being fed the most comforting of comfort foods (in my case, tea and toast); I just can’t get enough. I think my plan to read all the Chronicles this year might actually come to fruition (if you’ve read Bookphilia, you’ll know I’m notoriously bad at following through on my own reading plans), I’m enjoying the Hardings and Proudies and Grantlys and Stanhopes so profoundly.

I’m also hoping to finish all of Dickens’s major works in the next year or so, that I might read both the Michael Slater biography my brother gifted me last year and the Claire Tomalin biography I’ve been looking longingly at but not purchasing. That’s right, not purchasing….

You see, I’ve made two major resolutions in the past year that will directly affect what you see on Jam and Idleness. The first is that I’ve put an embargo on buying myself new books, at least for 2012. Just before the new year, I engaged in a little obsessive compulsion and made an excel spreadsheet of all the books I own but have not yet read. I knew it was bad, but I almost fainted clean away when I saw that there were over 200, and many of them are very, very long! In a good year, I’ll read 100 books—so, I am at the very least, two solid years behind in my reading.

This terrifies me (of what? I have no idea); more importantly, this backlog makes buying books much less enjoyable than it should be, because I know it’ll be ages—nay, years! in most cases—before I actually get to any of my new purchases. So I’m trying to rein that compulsion in. (Of course, I’ve already broken it by buying Dr. Thorne. But I’m going to try reading the rest of the Chronicles of Barsetshire on my husband’s Kobo, even though I kind of hate it. Dr. Thorne has been my only slip-up this year; one book in almost 3 months is an amazing accomplishment for someone who tends towards buying books like an extreme couponer but without the coupons to defray the costs.)

The second resolution isn’t either book-related or about reining anything in, thank goodness. Rather, I’ve dedicated myself to trying foods I’ve never tried before. I’m a long-time vegan, but it’s only recently that I’ve realized just how many fruits, veggies, grains, spices, etc I haven’t tried yet. I want to try absolutely everything that’s available to me! Here’s a very short list of things on my radar but not yet experimented with:

  • Amaranth
  • Kasha
  • Casava/Yuca
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Ziti
  • Golden beets

What I find really exciting about this resolution is my absolute certainty that there are many, many new things I don’t even know about yet. I love cooking AND eating so I see nothing but wins here, even if I don’t enjoy everything. Here are some new (to me) things nibbled on in the past year or so:

  • Pomellos (meh)
  • Parsley root (too strong! But I may have used too much; worth trying again)
  • Sunchokes (Best. Ever.)
  • Steel cut oats (I absolutely love these. I’m going to post a recipe later this week because this post is already too long.)
  • Millet flakes (great in homemade granola)
  • Quinoa flakes (ditto)
  • A variety of new to me apples, including the compellingly named “Envy” (all alright, but nothing like my beloved Fujis or Jonah Golds).

So! Let’s talk about books and food and fun things that make us happy. There’s enough jam and idleness for absolutely everyone.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. I recently tried an apple called a Pink Lady and she was fine. Lately I’ve been using generous amounts of fresh oregano in just about everything. Check out its anti-oxidant properties: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=73. Relevant quote: “Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.” Again, congrats!

  2. Good luck with all this. I myself have eaten my share of broccoli rabe. I would not know what to do with yuca, but I order it whenever I am in a Latin American restaurant.

  3. Colleen says:

    Kevin: I don’t mind the Pink Lady either but she’s not a show-stopping number. Give me some examples of the “everything” on which you use your fresh oregano…all I can think of is pizza and pasta.

    Tom: When I figure out what to do with yuca, I’ll let you know!

  4. andrew says:

    Welcome back, you’ve been missed! Love the new approach and looking forward to lots of food-related tidbits.

  5. Colleen says:

    Thanks, Andrew! I like food.

  6. J.G. says:

    New life = new blog = works for me!

    I’m glad to hear your voice again, but miss the clever medieval horse kick just a teensy bit . . . . Don’t worry; I’ll get over it.

  7. Colleen says:

    J.G.: I miss the medieval horse of crankiness myself….maybe he’ll make an encore here.

    1. J.G. says:

      Oh, that would be divine! I will dare to hope for him to return someday.

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