Archive for February, 2011

Bread and Saag

Before I present any more craptastic photos, I should mention that one my many goals for this blog is to embarrass myself into improving my photography skills. In the meantime, I hope you’ll bear with me. In another post I will detail all of the other goals, both for this blog in particular and our relocation in general, but first things first.

I made a list of everything in our pantry and freezer so that I can start using things up. There is no hope for all the oils and vinegars, the rice and many different kinds of beans, so I am picking my battles. For example, I’ll bake all of our bread until I run out of flour.

A year ago I would have considered this an impressive undertaking, but here’s the recipe that makes it totally manageable: One-Minute Ciabatta It is awesome and I highly recommend it.

I’ve heard a lot about the No-Knead Bread, but it looks a bit involved for my taste. I’d probably try a recipe that required kneading before I tried that.

While poking around and taking inventory, I found a large can of spinach that I bought ages ago to use for a potluck dish. I never did use it because I was afraid it might be too horrible to serve, and then time passed and I forgot about it. I also found a block of paneer in the freezer.

This prefab saag was a revelation. At $4.99 (or was it $5.99) a can, this was roughly the same price as buying fresh greens, and it tasted perfectly fine. There were no weird preservatives on the ingredient list, and it saved a lot of time and trouble. Houston has a ton of Indian grocery stores, and I’m hoping Pittsburgh has something comparable because I would definitely buy this again.

The paneer tasted okay but had a strange texture, which likely had more to do with how long it’d been hanging around in the freezer. There’s also a chance it had thawed and refrozen at some point in its long life, so I won’t disparage the brand.

I ended up with more saag paneer than we could eat, even over the course of a few days, so I froze some of it. That’s the one step back after my two steps forward. Right now I have a gigantic batch of urad dal slow-cooking in the crockpot, and some of it is probably destined for the freezer as well. Oops. 

Also unearthed during inventory was a quantity of steel-cut oats, which take way too long to cook for weekday mornings so I have been ignoring them for months. When we ran out of rolled oats last week, I made a big batch of the steel-cut version in the evening to be portioned out for a couple of days’ breakfasts, and this worked really well. It just requires a little bit of foresight.

My primary goal is to not buy anything except dairy and fresh produce as long as I can help it. The secondary goal is to have more or less bare shelves within a month. We’ll see how it goes.

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Preliminary Purge

Even when plans for our departure from Houston were in a vague, sometime-in-the-next-year-or-two phase, I was bothered by the piles of crap I’ve accumulated. Now that these plans are in the still-vague-but-sometime-in-the-next-month-or-two phase, I need to get cracking. I hope documenting it all will help motivate me.

The sorting process is paralyzingly intimidating, so I decided to start with the stuff that I already know I don’t need.

Thrift Store Donations

Most of this came from a friend who moved to Vancouver. I saved a few things, and then I added some clothes I never wear (including quite a lot of brassieres), a few trinkets that were taking up space on our mantle, some yarn (this hobby never really took), and that charming candle-holder some one gave us as a wedding-present. I have several that are similar, and I’ve never used any of them. Yes, I feel a little guilty about discarding a gift, but I must be ruthless in order to succeed, and I’m sure it won’t be the last that gets the axe.

Broken Things

This part is pretty embarrassing. That chair looks fine, but I assure you it is not. The rungs are all detached, and several of them are split in places. We tried several times to fix it (notice the white bandage-like wrap on the left-most rung), to no avail. The coffee-maker became trash when I broke the carafe and realized the whole apparatus cost almost as much as the price of shipping for a new carafe. All things considered, it lasted a really long time. The rice-cooker leaked profusely, which is a scary habit for an electronic device. The vacuum-cleaner was a contributing factor in our decision to have hardwood floors in our next place. Behind the vacuum-cleaner are the remains of some-assembly-required items that I was unable to assemble. I blame shoddy design and shoddier manufacturing for these failures. It’s not me; it’s them. And it’s been over between us for awhile.

After learning that the only place that takes these things for recycling was 30 minutes away and only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during business hours, I talked my husband into going with me to the municipal trash depository. Though they don’t recycle this sort of thing, the guy who worked there did seem pretty sure he could salvage the vacuum-cleaner, which made me feel a little better. I was expecting a more stereotypical dump, but it turned out to be surprisingly clean and nice, not that it’s my next picnic destination or anything.

Recyling

The depository does recycle glass and plastic and such. This is a more or less standard haul for us (curbside recycling in Houston might be the subject of a future post) and does not qualify as decluttering per se.

I’m going to miss Saint Arnolds.

Electronics

We had a drawer full of orphaned adaptors, airline headphones, and the like. I even found a 3.5-inch floppy disk in there. My husband graciously helped me pick through all of it to make sure we didn’t discard anything important. I brought all of it to Best Buy, who recycles this sort of thing.

I hope this is only the beginning. I have high hopes for next weekend.

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