Monday, February 18, 2008

Waste not, want not

I grew up with that expression. Perhaps in rebellion, I'm slowly coming to the realization that I haven't applied it to my own life.

It's obvious in the amount of stuff I have, and that I end up throwing away or giving away.... too much stuff.

It's even more obvious by the amount of food we waste.

I have eaten according to my whims: what sounds good today? What do I feel like? I have eaten whatever I want, without regard to the contents of my refrigerator. This is a disaster.

I'm not going to get into it here today because of short time, but I wanted to record the thought even briefly.

I'm determined to eat what is available. If I defrosted cod, then we must eat cod that night. If we don't, then the cod isn't fresh, and ends up in the trash. It's embarassing to write that, it's so wasteful, but it's the truth. What a waste.

And leftovers. Leftovers are not meant to be stored until spoiled, then thrown away.

My commitment: to cook what I buy, with minimal waste. To eat leftovers. To eat what's in the fridge, not what's on my mind. Enough said.

In other notes, I followed through and went to the farmer's market yesterday, where I bought kale, potatoes, cranberry beans, cheese, and sausage (from Vashon Island, which we can see out our kitchen window). (We were already stocked up on carrots, onions, bread, and honey, or I would have made those purchases, too.)

And today, simmering away in the crockpot, are the beans, potatoes, kale, and sausage from that trip, along with carrots, onions, tomato sauce, thyme, bay leaf, wine, roasted turkey breast, a bit of ham....and one red pepper, chopped up small, because though it wasn't part of the recipe it needed to get used and I figured it wouldn't hurt. (Waste not want not - see, I can be taught!) Tonight for dinner we'll have this faux-cassoulet, with some home made bread. It's not a 100-mile diet, and it's not all local, but it's a really good start.

It feels good to be intentional.

For the record, I have no intention of becoming a 100-mile-diet person, and buying everything local. I don't want to give up coffee, chocolate, wheat, baking soda, salt, sugar, and fresh fruit in the winter. However, I believe that I can make huge strides toward eating more seasonally and more locally than I currently do. Tonight's dinner is a good example of that: I know where most of that food was grown, and I know that though I already had the tomato sauce on hand, next time I can get some made locally. The cranberry beans are a new item on the list for our family - full of protein and fiber, locally grown, they are a step in the right direction. An even bigger step would be to build the whole meal around them, vegetarian style, and we will get there.

Today, the house smells fantastic, filling with the smell of this dish. The sun is shining, the water is sparkling*, the air is fresh. Good reminders of our bounty.

*We have a view!!! Our neighbors cut down a tree between our two yards, and suddenly we can see the ocean (Puget Sound) from our deck, kitchen window, and dining room. This is a little unexpected slice of heaven. It's by no means a sweeping view, and when the trees fill in with spring leaves the view will be blocked for the warm months, but today I'm delighted to see the ocean. What a treat.

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