Because of my change of diet, I’ve had long stretches of feeling good, of being able to write. This has spoiled me, at least in terms of writing essays.

Used to be that I’d always write my essays on Sundays because I never knew if I’d be able to produce them on Thursdays. I had lots of time Sunday morning, so even if I wasn’t feeling well I could still produce one or two, though a five-hundred-word essay might take me three hours.

Right now, I’m sick. My husband has thoughtfully shared his chest cold with me. I have very little brain.

And I have an essay due. Today.

So you’re getting a hodgepodge of random thoughts pulled together into an essay.

My cold symptoms are nowhere near as severe as my husband’s because as soon as I start feeling sick, I take zinc. (These: Enhanced Zinc Lozenges) This particular zinc works for me. Dries me up. Chances are, though I have a bit of congestion in my chest, I won’t get much. Frequently, I’ll have a couple of days feeling like shit without any external symptoms.

My husband teases me that I have a new religion, one that involves the pellet grill and meat. I’ve made really good brisket twice now and am looking forward to seeing if I can repeat that. I have recently made really good ribs and pork shoulder. The beef pot roast I just made is a little dry but tastes yummy. (All of it tastes really good.) I feel as though I still have so much to learn in terms of training my instincts with the meat.

Every piece of meat is different. It comes from a different animal. It’s similar, but not the same, even if it’s the same cut. This piece of meat has more fat, that one has more muscle. This one starts off more tender, that one isn’t. I’m getting better results from checking what’s on my grill rather than strictly adhering to a recipe. Those instincts can only be developed over time. And it means cooking more meat.

I developed a new rub for the pork, one that has a lot of cumin and coriander in it. It also contains ginger, dried mustard, fennel, black pepper, sage, and my new secret ingredient: cloves.

I cannot do nightshades anymore. They make my joints ache. They’re just not good for me. So how do I get a hot, spicy mix without cayenne, hot peppers, or chilis?

One of the things I’ve discovered is that cloves give a nice earthy flavor to things like chilis would. The ginger, black pepper, and mustard then bring the heat, and are much more effective when paired with a touch of clove. And honestly, you can’t taste the cloves in the end, just the effect of them. It’s been so much fun building up flavors in my rubs.

I’ve started doing serious prep work in terms of the Hadrian’s Wall walk we’re going on next year. I’ve selected accommodations for the first part of the walk, and am slowly figuring it all out. Basically, I’m building a spreadsheet with first, second, and third choices in terms of where we want to spend the night at a location.

In October, I’ll start booking all of those places. I’ll probably start in the middle of the walk and book outwards from there.

Why? Because there are fewer options in the center of the country. Those places are harder to book. It’s part of the reason why I’m booking a year ahead of time. So maybe one of the places we want to stay doesn’t have something available on Tuesday, but they do on Wednesday. Hopefully, I’ll be able to rebuild my schedule around that.

This is a shorter essay today, but three things make a thing, right? Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

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