Sunday, January 2, 2011

Uncluttering for the New Year

I've been off work for two whole weeks, which means that I've had time to notice all the projects I've put off over the years that are still sitting in little piles in various parts of the house. The piles of photos that need to be organized, the cookbooks and cooking magazines with dogeared recipes that have never been used, the spice rack that still has unopened containers of spices that we got several years ago, the pile of magazines and journals from last year's writing conference that I had plans to read but didn't.

The photos went in a basket in the closet, to be retrieved at some point before I retire, at which point I will no longer have any idea who was in the photos or where they were taken. Some of them were retrieved from shoeboxes and piles in drawers from my grandmother's house, stuffed there for later organization, just as I'm doing. The journals and got recycled or donated to people who might actually read them.

This week I attacked my spice jars, mentally shelving any attachments I might have to spices I might use at some point but have probably lost all their flavor from sitting on my countertop for at least three years in various kitchens. Halfway through the project, I was staring a sinkful of empty spice jars and an extremely aromatic trashcan, and realized why I'd been putting it off for so long. I'd scrub another stubborn label off a lid and repeat the mantra that I needed extra countertop space, which was why I was doing this to begin with.

Of course, today I found a recipe that called for mustard seed pods, which I had thrown away. Who cares if they were stale--I could have used them!

Last night I got sick again, got bored and alphabetized our DVD collection. I gave up on the VHS tapes and left them in their disorganized stacks.

Today I went through my stash of cookbooks. I've bought more cookbooks than I can even remember, most on a whim while passing by the sale rack at bookstores, where I would be overcome the irresistible urge to discover Thai cooking or Japanese cooking or Indian cooking or the Atkins diet or whatever grabbed me at the time. Most of these were flipped through and then given away. There are two that I haven't been able to throw away--my first cookbooks that I had as an adult, the first time I tried to cook outside my mom's house. They've been stored in boxes and shipped or driven all across the country, and I've put them in the give-away pile several times, but at the last minute I remember making Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne for the first time and have to put them back on the shelf, unused but still loved. This is the only reason I would keep a book called Sensational Pastas anywhere near my GF kitchen. The other one is the Eating Well Cookbook from 1996, which had a luscious Georgian Beef Stew in it that I haven't made in years. But I meant to make it again, and so I kept it.

There are so many recipes that I have meant to try but, for some reason or another, have never done so. There are recipes that have had their pages folded down, then unfolded, then folded down again so that I would remember to try them. Many of them were abandoned when I went gluten-free. It was just too hard to deal with substitutions when I first started. Today I laughed when I looked at some of the ones that I thought were too hard. They're not. I just had them shelved in that category in my head, and there they stayed.

I haven't been able to come up with a new resolution for the New Year. I've got all the same ones from the year before and figured that would be enough: eat healthier, exercise more, write more. I should probably make a resolution to stop coming up with crazy projects that I will most likely never finish.

Oops. Too late.

I made a list of all the recipes from six of my favorite cookbooks that I haven't made yet or haven't made in a very long time. I made myself stop after five pages of recipe titles. With any luck I'll make most of the recipes, Eric will like many of them, and I'll feel better about having spent ridiculous amounts of money on cookbooks that will no longer be collecting dust on my shelf.

No comments:

Post a Comment