The Pantry #sol21

The Pantry #sol21

August 10, 2021

I have a secret. Sometimes I bite off way more that I can chew. If you aren’t well-versed in midwestern idioms, I’ll translate. Every summer, I set out this long list of intentions as if I actually have three months to accomplish them. Seven weeks into the summer I realize that I have accomplished exactly four of these things and that here I am at the Sunday night of summer with little to show for it.

I am aware that I could just take a sabbatical for those weeks. I am not obligated (well, actually I am) to accomplish most of this list. But yet, the pressure is decades in the making.

When I begin to feel overwhelmed like this, I remind myself to do just one thing at a time and then… I abandon the to-do list and clean the pantry.

This may seem counterintuitive, the door will still close on the pantry. I can retrieve most of what I need. Perhaps there are only three cans of chickpeas.

Here’s the thing. Cleaning the pantry is manageable. I can be reasonable sure that I can get in there in the morning and be finished, actually finished by noontime with relatively no casualties. One full job completely done and visually confirmed. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s magical. Much like baking a batch of cookies. (see many other posts), this act can turn it all around for me. It’s a treasure hunt, a grab bag, a challenge, and a little bit of archeology.

So one day in the recent past, I cleared the counters and started in.

The top shelf of the pantry is mostly crackers and chips, nuts and lunch box fillers. It is quick work. Nothing too surprising there, though I was looking for that lost box of straws and wondering why I have two opened packages of dried snap pea chips. I ate the little bit of nuts left in the container and moved on.

The second shelf is pasta, beans, various noodles, and rice. It’s always a grab bag of recipe left overs that I might not have actually made or remnants of good ideas left by the wayside.

I was so astounded by my own accumulation of pasta that I made a list to post on the pantry door. I have to definitely work through them. I will be scouring the internet for a tagliatelle recipe tonight.

That plus sign next to the thin spaghetti denotes five packages of thin spaghetti languishing on the shelf. I do like carbonara…

This exercise is soul cleaning. I already feel lighter and I’m just on shelf number two. It occurs to me that I might be a food hoarder… or I let Mr. K randomly put things in the basket at the grocery. Definitely an accumulator. With the pasta shelf complete, I move on to THE CANS.

I’m not sure why I ever by anything in a can. I am adverse to so many canned things. I divide the cans to categories. Tomatoes and all that define themselves in that way. Beans… so many beans. Jellies? Why do I have five, six, seven different jellies? I blame some on gifts and farmers’ markets, but what will I do with ALL OF THIS JELLY???

The bottom shelf is oil and vinegar, no literally, oil and vinegar. If you don’t know how someone can accumulate eight or nine different types of vinegar and the same number of oils, I have so much to explain. I should explain never making the same exact thing twice or planning on the weekend for the week of cooking or just …. why I should throw more out!?

By the time I completed the last shelf my mood is lifted as predicted. I move on to the baking cabinet, but that’s a story for another day.

judge away about the instant potatoes, they come in handy. Do you want a good recipe for a couscous salad?

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Butter

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas

Tagliatelle with Garlicky Tomato Sauce

I should also clean out the refrigerator….

4 thoughts on “The Pantry #sol21

  1. Susan – this is hysterical! So well structured and playful! “One full job completely done and visually confirmed.” this line particularly stood out to me as this morning, simply putting groceries away, I felt the call to clean the fridge – I mean clean — drawers and shelves pulled out of the fridge AND the freezer — felt completely satisfying and I had no plan to do it – it just happened — here’s to clean pantries, fridges and untouched lists!

  2. Susan, what an uplifting, true, and lovely slice of your life you shared here. I laughed so many times. I’m so glad that cleaning the pantry has that sweet effect on your coming to the “Sunday night of summer” — such an apt analogy, all educators can relate! Fun and well-written piece. Enjoy your last days.

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