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Too Much Thyme On My Hands

September 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I’ve been having some issues getting back into the Carleton schedule. During the summer it often seems like the days are long and languid, like doing nothing is the expectation instead of the exception. I feel like I spent a fair portion of my break staring into fans, counting bugs, and trying to engage my dog in political debate (I also edited a lot of papers, patrolled high-school dances, packed up an office in ninety-degree heat, and played checkers with a vicious and brilliant seven-year-old, but right now these memories aren’t quite as salient).

But being at school means activity and action, meetings, papers, emails, and doorstop-sized books. Suddenly a lot of people I really like are in one place, a lot of things I want to do and talk about and know are available to me, and it smells like cookies all the time. This past week, the transition felt a little difficult. I really wanted to match my excitement with my classes, my determination and eagerness with actually making productive plans for the term ahead. My professors certainly assigned work, but I kept finding my interest inconsistent and unfocused. And my friends moved in, but they’re spread out around campus, and they too weren’t quite sure, at any given moment, where they’re really supposed to be or what’s actually going on.

Things are settling down a little bit now, though, which I attribute both to adjustment and familiarity, and an odd and delicious experiment I tried this weekend. You may interpret the following story as either an example of powerful voodoo or a quality parable; its profundity, I believe, will not be compromised by either.

This year, for the first time, I’m not on the Carleton meal plan because I am living in a house with a kitchen. To clarify, this still counts as campus housing; but basically, my friends and I get to take turns cooking dinner every night. (I hope to elucidate on this situation, as well as my illustrious living fellows, in a future post).

Somewhere in my frantic grocery escapades of mid-last week, I meant to buy (I’m sure) something else, and ended up leaving the store with a very large bundle of thyme. Through last week, this thyme sat at the bottom of our vegetable drawer, nuzzling carrots, spooning the celery, and generally shedding pretty much everywhere. I put as much as possible in some eggs and salads; there really was no noticeable difference to the bounty.  My housemates were polite enough not to chide me for mismanaging my thyme, however, as it started to molt on the entire bottom shelf of our refrigerator, I certainly felt that it was really starting to become an issue.

Last winter, in the throes of longing for fresh vegetables, I bought a very sturdy hardcover book called The Minnesota Table. Part cookbook, part journey around farms, the book is organized by months. This weekend, I decided to read the September section, and settled upon a special feature on….drying herbs in the microwave!

And so, I proceeded. Nothing exploded, no one was harmed, the computers have not started to wage war against us. I managed to put my thyme in a beautiful glass jar, and it now lives in our rather crowded spice jar, where we summon it when needed. My friend Kristin put it in soup. I put a little in beans. A few days later, I finally hung my calendar.

So yes, our microwave does smell a bit…British. That’s the closest I can really get to describing it, I guess. I can go have another gander tonight and report back to you. I plan on opening the microwave, you see, because Eat The Lawn supposedly has some herbs growing. And also because I might need to begin tomorrow with LoCocoation* because I plan on going to class and seeing friends and doing homework, and being busy and very very productive.


*This begins, I hope, my soon-to-be-famous series of recipes that aren’t really recipes. LoCocoation essentially involves putting about a two-inch base of whatever vaguely chocolate/cocoa powder you can find in your living environment, adding milk, and microwaving for the time suggested on your machine. It is intended to evoke The Little Engine That Could.

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