This experiment in clearing “clutter” from my freezer and pantry has led to some interesting realizations. At nearly 2 months in, I am doing a much better job of using items and organizing items so that I use items before they go bad or expire. Putting “like” items together is making a huge difference. I had been doing some of this, but being more intentional and compulsive about it is making some difference.
That said, I’ve come to realize that some clutter is necessary. So I’ve also started stocking up.
I have a friend who really practices a “just in time” method of inventory and she’s not buying lots of extra items to have on hand just in case. I realized I was looking across a cultural divide when I recently sent her home with some extra arugula pesto and she said, “I’ll even be sure to get some pasta at the store to enjoy it.” What? Don’t you already have pasta in your house? Several bags and boxes? Different types and sizes?
I couldn’t imagine. Luckily I don’t have to.
When I was eating from my pantry last month, having pasta and things like box chicken stock allowed me to come up with delicious dinners without a lot of thought. I find it comforting to know that I’m going to have those kinds of things in a bit of abundance so I have flexibility “in the moment” without remember to buy those items at the last minute. These kinds of things include rice/pasta/polenta, baking dry goods, boxed stock/broth, tomato paste and canned tomatoes (if I don’t have my own in the basement), several pounds of unsalted and salted butter (in the freezer!) and a spare jug of maple syrup. I don’t want to ever run out of maple syrup!
I don’t need to survive an emergency disaster, but I do want to have some abundance to keep my cooking mojo alive and well and ready to go.
The arugula pesto, by the way, was fantastic! I used a recipe from Williams Sonoma as my inspiration even though I didn’t really measure but instead trusted my eye and taste. I also used walnuts instead of pine nuts because I always have walnuts but I rarely have pine nuts. It was really nice for someone who loves the bitter-green-clean taste of arugula without any basil to mask the flavor.
I used a bit of the leftovers to make a salad with pasta, corn, and feta cheese. It was also quite yummy, but I did add extra lemon juice to brighten the flavors.