This Life Lesson Episode:
You can’t always have what you want, so work with what you have.
One of my concessions in life – not having a walk in pantry in the kitchen. I’ve never had a walk-in pantry. I most likely never will. I’ve given up worrying about it. There’s no point.
What I do have is an organized pantry cabinet in the kitchen, and some of the other cabinet shelves organized to hold baking items, like the baking soda, baking powder etc. I can organize one shelf in the pantry for flours, one for sugars and sweeteners, one for rice and grains…If it doesn’t all fit, I probably don’t need it.
I don’t have room here for all the canned goods from the garden, so they can go downstairs. A second pantry area if you like. I keep the bulk goods from the box store together here, as well as the empty canning jars.
The rest of my pantry is the fridge and freezer. I have always had a big freezer, in addition to whatever space is in the refrigerator in the kitchen. So I can store quite a bit of frozen meat, for example, when there’s a good sale.
I will always find a place to put goods until I use them. Maybe temporarily something goes in the spare bedroom or on the floor of the kitchen closet. So it goes. I will never have a walk-in pantry I might dream of.
What else to I make do with? I patch my jeans…those inner thighs just always give way. The rest is perfectly good, so why would I throw away the whole pair? I can sew, and have a sewing machine. So I put it to use. No need to by more jeans just to wear around the homestead. If some people can spend $100 to buy a pair of jeans with holes in them ( I never understood this trend!), I can wear the ones I patch.
My house is not big, but then there are just two of us. A spare bedroom for visitors. That’s all we need, no 3000 square foot mansion for us.
I substitute ingredients when I am cooking. For instance, I have some nice kale I just bought at the farmers market. I wanted to make white bean and kale soup. I looked all over all parts of the pantry – no white beans, anywhere. But I had a bag of navy beans in the freezer from when I cooked up a couple pounds of them. Good enough. I also found a piece of Parmesan rind I saved just for such an occasion. Great. Not exactly according to the recipe, but that’s okay today.
I even found a couple slices of pancetta in the freezer, which the original recipe does call for. It’s been in there quite a while, but this is soup, right? I understand that ideally I would have fresh pancetta, but today I don’t. Martha Stewart and Ian Gartner are rolling their eyes if they read this. As a side note, on one Barefoot Contessa show, Ina was answering questions at the end as she often does. The question was: What do you do with the whole chicken carcass once you are done making stock? Her answer: it really doesn’t have much flavor at this point so I just throw it out. My turn to cringe. I wondered if she realized how many of her viewers would love to have that 4 or 5 pound chicken for the meat, that it might be more meat than they could afford that day. That it could turn into a potpie, stir fry, chicken salad and more. Sorry to rant, but it bothered me.
I find some sense of peace in just accepting what is. There are other things I may feel strongly enough about having to spend money, but most often if I ask myself “Is this something I need, or just something I want?”. Usually it’s the latter. I am old enough now to not care about fancy clothes, tons of shoes, lots of makeup, the latest kitchen gadget. I like what I have, and I can do just about anything I want to do with what is already in the house.
Except for wine. I do have to buy that. I never learned how to make it from my father-in-law.
As my girlfriend will say: “I’m good for the three H’s – I’m not hitchhiking, I’m not hungry, and I’m not homeless”. That’s a pretty good way to accept what you have, and not worry about what you don’t.
What do you make do with, when you can’t or won’t get your wish?