Imagine.. it is the dead of winter, the snow falls lightly outside as the warm fire crackles indoors.
You open up your favorite old cookbook, the one with the torn newspaper and magazine recipes shoved inside for later use. You settle on a promising stew or soup recipe, one that will not bore you for days to come. ...and there it is FRESH BOUQUET GARNI.
Now fresh herbs in the store in winter are guaranteed to be expensive and sub-quality. For that reason I have tended to fudge this step with some dried herbs tied in cheese cloth on a string with not great results.
This is a quick 20 minute project that will give you joy all winter. Either pick from your garden, or purchase at the farmers market an assortment of fresh herbs. Here I used sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Wash and dry thoroughly. Place single serving assortments in small freezer bags or vacuum seal pouches. Freeze immediately. I have blanched and cold water shocked batches before which seems to hold the color better but muddles the flavors so now I go right to freezing. Also it turns it into more of a production than it needs to be.
The excellent news these bundles of flavor take up very little room in your freezer and will make you feel incredibly smart and thrifty. And who doesn't like that?
Before you say “How can you hate your job? You work for yourself, you produce healthy food, you have the life everybody dreams of. How dare you?”
Everybody hates his or her job sometimes. I don’t know him but I am sure that the Pope occasionally would rather throw on a pair of shorts and go fishing rather than Poping, but with some grumbling he puts on that silly dress and fakes that saintly smile and gets on with business. For all I know he uses some of the same techniques that I am suggesting to turn his attitude around.
As for my credentials in the matter let me say that I have had some of the best and worst jobs imaginable, and at one time or another I have hated them all. I have worked as a young freelance designer stuck in a cubicle painting endless color ways of hideous cabbage rose prints destined to be mass produced by Wal-Mart’s sleepwear division (forgive me Lord for I have sinned). I have been a founder, designer, and CEO of a successful clothing line sold globally. And today I fortunate enough to live and work in the country creating cheeses that people seem to like from cows that are not only humanely treated but also happy. Yet this very morning I hated my job. Rather to succumb to misery I forced myself through these various steps.
Step One: Clean and organize you immediate work area. Now this is fairly straightforward if you work in an office ore cubicle. Throw out the empty FedEx boxes under your desk, get rid of outdated Post-its and clean up and organize the desktop of your computer. Even if you have to create a folder called “To Be Dealt With Later” get rid of those floating documents. Every one of them is a distraction preventing you from being focused and enjoying doing a good job.
Now if you work at home or on a farm or in the great outdoors it get’s tricky. Draw an imaginary 20-foot circle around where you are working (if you have Wicca tendencies use salt, it can’t hurt) clean and organize that and only that. Don’t look for trouble and distractions beyond that boundary it will derail you before you have even started. If I am working in the cheese house that will be my focus. I will not get distracted by the weeds that need pulling outside the door. If I do I am motivational toast.
Step Two: Now that everything is tidy and you have actually accomplished something (good job) take care of the one task that you have been dreading and putting off the most. Now if that was cleaning your office, move on to step three. But if it is something more unpleasant tackle it. Have you been dreading emailing or (gulp) calling the customer/client that is never happy? Calling a supplier that you are not happy with to report the problem and negotiate a discount? Weeding the raised beds? Shoveling cow manure out of gutters? Whatever it is just do it. It is tying you to unhappiness. CUT THE CORD.
Step Three: Breathe. Smile. The worst is over. Now it is time to take on a task that you enjoy and are good at. Here is how it worked for me this morning. Woke up at 5 am. I am not a morning person but my job requires this early rising to milk the cows. I hate my job. Got myself out to the barn tidied up the milk house and mangers. Milked cows. Cleaned again. Paid two bills that were not even due yet but needed paying. I love the look of money in my bank accounts and it pains me to part with it. Deep breath the worst is over. Started making a batch of cheese in the cheese house and writing this blog. Both are enjoyable and the fact that I am a kick ass multitasker makes me feel good about my job and myself. Did I really say I hated it earlier?
If you have followed these steps and have come out feeling good about yourself and your job. Congratulations you are where you should be for the present moment. I say the present moment because we always should be questioning and testing our lives and where they are heading. If you still hate your job there might be a legitimate reason. Proceed to step four.
Step Four: OK, first thing, don’t do this step at work. There is something a little tacky about making a list of what you hate about your job while at work being paid to do something other than making list of how many ways your job sucks.
Finish your day at work doing the best job you can. When it is time to leave don’t go and buy that pair of pumps that you have been wanting and now deserve because your job is sucking the life force out of you. Don’t meet friends for martinis because chances are they hate their jobs too and all that will happen is tomorrow you will wake up still hating your job with a hangover on top of it.
No, go home. If your home situation is less than quiet go to a library or coffee house alone with pen and paper. Notice I did not say your laptop? This requires long hand and some scratching out later. Draw a line down the center of the page. One side will read THINGS I LIKE ABOUT MY LIFE the other THINGS I WANT TO CHANGE ABOUT MY LIFE. Now notice I didn’t suggest you to write things that I want to change about myself. This is not the place for writing about losing 20 pounds or being nicer to the counter help at Starbucks. This is your life.
Fourteen years ago, before I gave up the city and moved to the country and farming, I was at Step Four. I was a train wreck Step Four. Things I liked about my life were my loft, my success, and the media attention I was growing used too. Don’t judge.. I know it sounds superficial. The things I didn’t like were a much longer list.
I felt I had stopped learning and being challenged. I wanted to feel connected to the outdoors and the world around me. I wanted to be proud of myself rather than be told I should be, etc.
That list brought me to where I am today. There may come a day that I will need to take Step Four again and I hope I will do it bravely and honestly.
As for today the first batch of cheese is ready to have the curd cut, this blog is done, and I no longer hate my job.
Trading her stilettos for muck boots, Aissa O’Neil left a successful career as a fashion designer in NYC to pursue farming full time in 2001. After years of study and apprenticeships in cheesemaking she opened her on-farm creamery 2013.