So an idea I’ve been kicking around a lot, as we start to think about our mid-Winter move to Philadelphia is a Supper Club Co-Operative. We have so many friends in Philadelphia, it’s ridiculous. It’s one of the reasons we have decided to move — we’d be there every night of the week for one thing or another, if it didn’t involve driving home at 11PM or later. Tom and I fully plan to join a CSA at the beginning of the season, and if I can find one that does meat or dairy in addition to produce, more’s the better for us. One of the ways I plan to get through the period where both Tom and I are both moving toward different careers, is to make as much nutritious amazing food in big batches as I can. This means hacking a few gadgets, probably purchasing a small chest freezer, and investing in a few tools for the kitchen to make life a bit easier. A DIY sous vide machine is high on my list of priorities. Hacking one yourself costs about $75, and gives you the capacity to use a wide variety of water-filled vessels. Buying one costs, legit, almost $400 and you’re stuck with the countertop size you have. A sous vide machine gives you the capacity to pump out a lot of perfectly cooked protein at a fraction of the time you can do it on the stove or the grill. I’ve also been considering a stovetop smoker, but that’s mostly my tastebuds talking. A pressure cooker might be on my list, for similar reasons to the sous vide — working around my shortcomings as a kitchen manager, mostly; but also an acknowledgment that our food choices aren’t conducive to emergency meals like spaghetti. Most of the stuff we eat requires more preparation than “boil water, wait ten minutes, strain, add something from a jar, consume.” I think, with the right tools I can get to managing to make sure we have a stocked fridge, plenty of produce, and some emergency stores set up for nights when we don’t feel well, or weeks when we’re broke or busy. Some of the staples that belong in my fridge take 24 hours to make. Some, like Kvass, take longer.
We have a lot of people in our soon-to-be-neighborhood, many of whom are excellent, talented, and creative. I’d like to share my work and experience with them, but I’m no Gatsby. I’m not currently in a position to do the sorts of things I want to do without reaping a benefit in return — even if it’s pet sitting on weekends we’re away, or picking up a CSA share so I can relax (with wine) after work, or a bottle of homemade wine, or storage in someone else’s basement for carboys of my mead to age. I’m trying to come up with trades and barters that make sense — a chance to share the things we have, and we all do well and enjoy (and would be doing otherwise) with people in exchange for things we might need. I know what my contributions are likely to be — food, primarily, since it’s already one of my goals.
I think there’s a lot to be said for mindful community building. There’s also something to be said for sending out a text on Monday that says, “Hey I have treats for everyone, come on over,” knowing that the text on Wednesday, “Huginn is sick, can he get a ride to the vet while I’m at work?” will be met with: YOU BET. Communities of reciprocity are something I work hard to build in my life, and enrich the world in which we live. I’d like my next home to be a node in a much larger network of people who set out to do things for each other. I don’t know who among my friends in the metro area will be interested in participating, or what the other things I might have to offer could be. But it’s on my mind a lot. The fact that I have talented friends further outside the city who might also benefit and be totally down with reciprocity is also encouraging. A monthly gathering at our new place where we bring the things we have to offer, socialize, and block out time to connect sounds like another way for me to work around one of my shortcomings: scheduling time for people I love (including myself).
So yeah! If you’re reading this, and this sounds like a community project you’d like to offer to and gain from, I’d love to hear from you. What would you want? What would you provide? What are the things you love doing, and what are things you can’t stand or don’t have the time or resources to do, but need?