New Year’s advice about de-cluttering, such as given this week by designer Shelly Shivley, also applies to the kitchen.
By the year’s end, my freezers (one in the garage, one attached to my refrigerator) are packed with food items I just know I will need for cooking.
I have copious bread products in particular, saved for homemade croutons and bread crumbs. And I have bags full of fresh-squeezed frozen citrus juices, and even mashed bananas, waiting for banana bread. And fried sage leaves (great on butternut squash ravioli … and I have frozen filling, too).
I’ve saved circus waffles from my Austin visits, and I have small bags of grated cheeses and frozen cubes of broth and herbs. It’s a good thing I live alone, because I’m the only one who can find anything in that freezer.
But at some point, if not used within the year, these items take on an icy quality, or they’re unmarked, mystery ingredients that I surely thought I’d recognize months after I popped it in the freezer for storage.
My dry-goods cupboard is similar. It contains cereal boxes with just a cup or two of stale cereal at the bottom, or crackers that have been opened, and are far beyond their peak flavor.
This is the time to clear out the freezer, refrigerator and cupboards. Throw away outdated products and mystery foods.
I followed my own advice today and cleared out my kitchen. I have the same liberated feeling as when I de-clutter any other space. Free. Open. And ready to start over.
I vow to start this year by marking items more carefully with the food name and date. I will do my best to keep on top of all those little jars that breed in the refrigerator, filled with various reductions and dressings and sauces (note to self: chicken gravy and whiskey sauce look amazingly alike).
I will store things like pasta and oatmeal in tight-fitting glass jars to ensure they’re never infested with the dreaded pantry moths.
Now my kitchen awaits new things, which is a good thing, since Tops Markets have some great specials in this week’s ad.
I am especially interested in the fresh mangoes, 10 for $6, which is about as low a price as I’ve seen mangoes.
Also, I like Tops’ butcher shops’ packages where shoppers can select from different columns of meat options. For me, the $39.99 package would be just about right, three from columns A and B, and one item from column C. My selections are: Column A, 1 lb. bacon, 1 lb. ground chuck and 3 lbs. cut-up chicken. Column B, 2.5 lbs. pork chops, 2.5 lbs country ribs and 2 lbs chuck stew meat. Column C., 3 lbs London broil.
That should refill my freezer nicely.
And to celebrate, I’ll make some Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon, which will feature some of my homemade beef broth from the freezer. You didn’t think I threw everything out, did you?
This recipe sponsored by Tops Market in Weaverville and Redding.
Click here to order a sandwich online from the Weaverville Tops Market.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.