Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Now?

Meat training for winter strength.

And so begins the season of our discontent.

The sky grays, leaves fall, and the cold hand of winter advances toward our throats.

This is the off-season, the doorway to months of inaction. Though some make up for the lack of trail tromping by skiing or snowshoeing, it is not the same as actual, real, true backpacking.

Muscle tone fades, and joints lose their hard-won toughness. Bellies soften and enlarge.

What to do?

Well, how about strength training?

With simple equipment you can make at home, it's easy to overcome winter's assault on your strength. If this sounds interesting, then here's how:

Prepare your equipment.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheep stomach, liver, heart, and tongue
  • 1/2 pound minced suet (227 g)
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 1/2 pound dry oats, toasted (227 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (2.5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground herbs (5 ml)

After soaking the sheep stomach overnight in salted water, boil the other sheep parts and mince them.

In a bowl, mix in the other ingredients, stuff the stomach with the mix, and tie it off.

If you are a cautious sort, puncture the stomach with a fork. This will prevent an explosion during cooking.

Place the stuffed stomach into a pot and boil for three hours, then remove it and allow it to cool and air dry.

Now you have a solid, thoroughly cooked, dry, and pleasantly rubbery Exercise Haggis, or Exer-Haggis as the strength training professionals call it.

Face it, you can walk all year, even if it's not really hiking. Your greatest problem in the off-season is loss of upper-body strength. Exer-Haggis is ideal for combating this.

Upward sausage press.

If you've properly prepared your Exer-Haggis, it should be as long as your arm, which makes it easy to hold.

Lie flat and face-up. Use a bench or the floor. Either works.

Start with your Exer-Haggis resting lightly on your forehead.

At this point some dripping can show up if you chose the puncturing option, but keeping an Exer-Haggis refrigerated a few days before use ought to coagulate it and forestall problems.

Firmly but gently grasping your Exer-Haggis, push it upward until your arms are fully extended.

Then slowly lower the Exer-Haggis until it again rests on your forehead.

Repeat until exhausted. If possible, do not drool. (I know, hard not to!)

Horsie goes a-prancing.

Start on the floor, face-down, with your Exer-Haggis resting in the small of your back, like a small cowboy on a friendly horse. (You.)

Push against floor with the flats of your hands until your body is raised and your arms are extended.

Slowly lower yourself back to the floor without letting your Exer-Haggis buddy fall off. The larger and heavier your Exer-Haggis, the more exercise you get.

Repeat until you can't stand it any more.

Around-town carry.

Put on your coat, and, while carrying your Exer-Haggis comfortably in the crook of your arm, walk around town, frequently shifting it from one arm to the other.

Do your shopping, go out for coffee, or visit friends. It's all good exercise.

This, of course, will tire you, which is fine. That is the point. It means that you needed a workout, and got one.

An especially nice thing about having an Exer-Haggis with you is that it is naturally curved like a meat-filled travel pillow.

If tired, find any convenient chair and recline with the Exer-Haggis behind your neck. After a few minutes of comfy power-napping you will be fully recharged and ready to continue your carry.

What's next?

Sadly, no Exer-Haggis lasts forever. Yours will finally wear out, and begin leaking. If you are lucky, or if you planned ahead, you have a pet, or children, and they aren't fussy about what they eat, especially if you lock them in a room for a day or two.

Just slice up your worn out Exer-Haggis and dish it out. Before very long you'll have space in your fridge for a new one.

And since the Exer-Haggis is made from things other people never eat, it's really cheap to make. Go ahead, make two while you're at it!

No pets? No children? No problem!

Relax. Here's what you do.

Just toss each worn out Exer-Haggis into the freezer. By the the time the freezer is full, backpacking season has almost returned again. And that means it's time for some leg work.

Empty the freezer, and hitch all your used (and still solidly frozen) Exer-Haggis to a line tied around your waist.

Then start walking. All that weight dragging behind you will give your legs a stiff workout. You'll be way ahead of your friends on your first backpacking trip.

When your collection of Exer-Haggis thaws or you become tired of all the dragging, cut them loose and leave them for forest critters. They need to eat too, so it's OK. Bio-degradable and all.

And then?

If you really get into it there is always Haggis hurling. And no, this is not part of the dining experience.

You throw haggis.

Or, if that part is not for you, you can be an official such as a Hagrarian, Clerk of the Heather, Peater, Barrel Master, Haggis Hooter, or Distance Referee.

You might even be so enchanted after a season with your Exer-Haggis that you give up backpacking and begin hurling full time.

It can happen.

More:

Haggis Hurling, The Revival of a Traditional Scottish Sport

Glen Haggis

Lorne is haggis world record-breaker

Haggis gets a bashing from fakes

Address to a Haggis

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his sturdy fist a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
And legs and arms, and heads will cut,
Like tops of thistle.
You Pow'rs, that make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That slops in bowls:
But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!

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