Saturday, June 25, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - A few days of special projects

My husband was away from home for a few days last week.  It was a last minute trip but I was still able to make a list of things "To Do When Not Distracted By Another Person in the House".

I never cease to be amazed how much more I can accomplish when he isn't home.  Don't get me wrong, I'm also always glad when he returns home, too.  But those days I had all to myself were lovely.

I had pizza for dinner after he left, cold pizza for breakfast the next morning, and sushi for lunch the following day. (There were salads for dinner those nights.) I even allowed myself to use paper plates so there were less dishes.  It felt... decadent.

The normal routines of the day went out the open windows, open because I didn't have to be concerned about his allergies.  I gave the house a good airing out the days he was out of town.  

After getting all the usual chores accomplished, like making certain the laundry was caught up, I started on the list of projects I wanted to complete in order of importance and a couple I thought of at the last minute... like washing and drying the two blankets I bought on clearance so they would be ready to use later.

I have been wanting to deep clean the kitchen counters but usually one of us is going in or out of the kitchen.  It was my first task and I pulled the appliances and other "kitchen stuff" away from the back of the counter and gave it a deep cleaning, then cleaning the rest of the counter when I could return them to their home.

I cleaned the appliances that sit on the counter and gave the mat that goes under the dish drainer a good scrubbing.  The stove top was next to get a good cleaning and burner liners went on my "To Buy" list on the refrigerator.  A quick mopping was the next project.

There are still a few kitchen chores that will need accomplished later but these made a huge difference in making the kitchen look nice and clean.  It took all day but it was worth it.

I was tired the following day but there were plenty of little projects that could be accomplished when undistracted.  I have three recipe card file holders, the vintage wooden card file holder I keep on the kitchen counter that holds my most used recipes throughout the year and two that remain on a shelf in my closet.  

One of them contains my "retired" recipes as well as those given to me by others that I don't currently use.  The third recipe box is slightly larger and it holds cut out recipe "cards" from Taste of Home and Country Woman magazines.  They often have the best recipes, although I don't buy them these days.

I went through all three file boxes, switching some from the main box to the "retired" recipes box, switching some from "retired" back to the main box, and perusing through the Taste of Home recipes to see if I wanted to make any of them soon.

While no one can actually see the results of the hours spent on that project, it is something I have wanted to do for a long time and looking through old recipes reminded me of many my mother-in-law had typed out and the recipes women used to make all the time.

My husband's mom loved the recipe section of the Chicago Tribune.  After her passing, I looked through the box where (shoe box I think?) she kept those cut out recipes and it was full.  Many of the recipes on cards she sent us were "tried an true" Tribune recipes.

At one time, I had a scrapbook full of recipes cut out of newspapers, Bon Appetit Magazine, etc. but I eventually switched to putting everything I used regularly on the recipe cards.  I think having my cookbook collection increase also helped to replace the recipe scrapbook at one time.

I do still have a few church recipe books that contain old favorites.  Two from when we lived in Iowa (although one of those books was published before we arrived in Iowa) and the church cookbook from my in-law's Lutheran church that contain recipes from my husband's mom and her friends that he knew.

I realize only those of us past a certain age will remember the Women's Pages of the newspapers.  They were already being phased out in the later 1970s but the Grand Rapids Press still had that section in the 80s when we lived there (and wonderful recipes, too).  I always looked forward to the new recipes on Mondays because they were chosen from local people (men and women who cooked) with the stories behind them.

It reminds me how much society has changed.  Having Women's Pages with recipes and household hints was something the generation before me loved and cherished.  They became a source of feeling demeaning to many young women starting with my generation.  Not me!

Besides perusing recipe boxes, I continued with small projects like dusting and polishing and generally making everything look clean.  But there was also time to just rest and enjoy watching something other than Chicago baseball in the evenings.  ;)

If the weather had been cooler last week, there would have been some baking done for the freezer but I didn't want to turn on the oven.  I need to try to bake in the air fryer since I have that accessory.

I didn't do very much for the pantry this week except to purchase some more cans of Red Gold tomatoes.  I realized about a week ago that I only had about nine or ten cans left and since some recipes use two cans, it was time to begin stocking up on them again.  It doesn't take long to go through things we use a lot. 

Thank you for the suggestions and ideas in the Comments recently.  I was glad to get all of them. There is always more to learn in every aspect of keeping a home... and a pantry.


NanaC said...

I Love this! I can SO relate! My hubby usually goes turkey hunting in the spring and deer hunting in the fall and I look forward to those times when he’s gone! Retirement is nice, but you need a break from each other once in a while! It’s definitely easier to do housecleaning when he’s not home, too! However, this year is different, as he had back surgery in March and is still dealing with issue resulting from it, so no hunting trips this year, unfortunately. Praying for a full recovery for him!
I ordered “The Last Bookshop in London” after reading your review! I gave it to my daughter for her birthday, but I told her I want to read it when she’s done! I look forward to your posts every weekend and always enjoy them!
Laura C. (WA)

Anonymous said...

Quote: I never cease to be amazed how much more I can accomplish when he isn't home.

Girl! We're married 37 years. Best truth ever! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Long time reader here :)

Ann said...

I miss the days when my husband (who was working from home) had to spend a couple of days away in the city at the office. It is amazing all that I could get done and I loved not having to think about meal prep. I put together whatever my little heart desired and it was oh so easy! Now he's retired and I don't get those "alone days" any more and they are missed.

AnneKristy said...

I think it was a previous post that you recommended a YouTube channel, Forgotten Way Farms. I have been binge watching the videos the past week. I so enjoy them. Thank you!
I began collecting recipes in middle school. I have my mothers and her mother's recipe boxes. I have a cookbook that my dad's mother and her sisters created. All of them were excellent cooks. A favorite childhood memory is watching them cook or bake. They were at home in the kitchen. They'd laugh off mistakes and create the meal anyway. Everything always tasted good. I try and keep my recipes organized so that I can find what I'm looking for. Pretty simple organization: main meals, vegies, desserts, drinks, holiday meals. I have a few recipes that are tried and true and well-liked by my picky eater husband of 40 years. This time of year, I cook less because heating up the kitchen means the rest of the house heats up. So, my husband will barbecue, or I will cook a big meal that we can eat on a few days.
Enjoy the week.

Kathy T. said...

So funny - I'm amazed all I get done when I'm alone at home too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, absolutely! I swear I can get done in a day when he's gone what would normally take a week if he's here. Things stay clean and I save time by not having to cook & wash up after multiple meals daily. I make very simple things for myself or just a big pot of soup to last me and then it's on to all the projects. So glad someone else can relate to this!

Carol in Texas said...

Isn’t it amazing what a boost it is to have some time alone in the house? We don’t want it to be permanent, but now and again it is a treat to have the place to yourself…..several days in a row! Wow! I concur about recipes. Nowadays I keep many on my IPad and my old recipe boxes sit in a cabinet and are rarely brought out. I have Mother’s old box too and occasionally I go though it and try one of her favorites….she was a good cook. Sometimes they call for ingredients no long available but were common back when. I’ve searched for the tubes of garlic cheese from Kraft I think that sho put in a spinach recipe, but they are not to be found now and I haven’t come up with a good substitute. I so enjoy your blog and am grateful for every entry you send out.

Unknown said...

Cold Pizza for breakfast for the win!! Oh yes! My 81 year old Mom still works at a library shelving books..I think it's her break as Dad doesn't hunt. And she still mucks out her own horse stalls!