I have decided that my JANUARY RESOLUTION will be to cook foods from my pantry – especially my freezer.
I want to empty the pantry – to rid myself of things I haven’t used for a long time, and to focus on stocking a pantry with the items I really do use all the time.
You see, my basement freezer died at the end of the summer. It was a SAD, SAD day. It happened at the best possible time of year, since the freezing season hadn’t really begun and I had used most of the stash I had built up for the winter before. Still, I lost some spring vegetables, a lot of home-made broth, and (sniff, sniff), my share of a Tamworth pig from Owens Farm. Ever since this terrible, horrible, no-good day, I have been trying to decide if I should buy a new freezer.
I have a normal fridge/freezer in my kitchen, and the freezer side seems to be filled with food I never use. Shouldn’t I empty this freezer out before I determine if I need more space? Shouldn’t I purge myself of three year old Gogurt that I bought to have on hand for a dinner party which included small children? Shouldn’t I either eat, or pitch, the leftover taco meat from Thanksgiving weekend 2010? Yes, yes I should.
So this is my plan – I’m going to EMPTY the freezer and my pantry so that I can then clean out my cupboards and basement food storage. There really is no reason for me to have a case of tomato paste in my house. Truly, there isn’t.
I come by this problem honestly. My grandmother, Phyllis, lived through the depression and was a big fan of bargains and saving. When she moved out of her home in Ambler, PA we had to clean out her basement, which included her pantry. I am not kidding when I say that we found caned food that had dried out.
Canned beans, which rattled. RATTLED.
There was a station wagon (a gigantic Chevy Caprice Station Wagon) full of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper which had probably been purchased (on sale, of course) in the 1970s. I think I finished using those napkins about three years ago. There was WWII ration sugar that was over forty years old (hard as a rock). Seriously. (Do I need to mention that my mother has used this sugar? She pounded it out with a hammer.)
I can still picture my brother’s face when he started to clean out my grandmother’s freezer as it defrosted. This freezer was full of meat that had spoiled WHILE IT WAS FROZEN. My brother was brave and strong and a VERY GOOD GRANDSON for cleaning out that freezer.
So I worry, a bit, that I might have some hoarding genes in me.
In my early adulthood, when I was newly married and interested in being PERFECT, I always wanted to have a full pantry of anything we might possibly need. A smart, college-educated, liberated and LIBERAL woman I still thought that my husband should never find himself without toothpaste, or toilet paper, or, well, capers. You know, just in case there was a caper emergency.
Now that I am a real grown-up, divorced, single, happy, and, um – SANE, I am content to have a small pantry of basics that I use regularly and know that I can easily run to the store for anything I really need. I live in America, after all. So I can buy raspberries from Chile in February if I want to.
Since it’s time to shed the past and become a person who doesn’t have five shelves of canned goods and dried food waiting FOR YEARS to be used, I’m going to do this. I’m going to use up what I have (and try very hard not to waste anything) and then start fresh, with a SMALL and PRACTICAL pantry of foods I use every week. And that’s it. No more hoarding. No more taking care of a husband I don’t have any more (who, incidentally, never asked me to take care of him in this way). And no more three-year old Gogurts.
No one should eat those things anyway.