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Time to empty stuffed relics of meals past


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POSTED: Thursday, April 09, 2009

I have a wonderful tool in my kitchen called a vacuum packer. You shove stuff into a plastic bag, the vacuum sucks the air out of the bag, and you end up with compressed food that essentially lasts forever, especially if you put it in the freezer.

This is a very bad appliance for someone like me to own. I have developed a bunker mentality about food, and I am constantly sucking, packing and freezing. I have a freezer section in my double-door refrigerator in the kitchen and a full freezer in my garage, and now I am out of space.

My family thinks I have doomsday issues, which is probably true, but I am ready for any emergency. I could feed my extended family for weeks if the world shuts down, but the problem is, if that happens, the electricity probably will go off, too, and that will wreck my plan of being the Great Provider.

I have been thinking about why some people store food and some do not. My mother actually had a regulation grocery store storage counter built in her kitchen with tilted shelves for vegetables. She could fit so many cans that the Food Bank would have envied her supply of beans and Spam. The family food fetish extends to my grandmother, who had a scary root cellar full of pickled beans, fruit, and mysterious mason jars. So I don't come by this whole food storage thing strangely, but still, a lot of people have grandmothers and they don't spend their weekends packing, sucking and stacking. For one thing, my children don't seem to have inherited the fixation on freezing and filing food.

My son and his wife don't think of groceries until they're hungry, and then one of them picks up takeout or makes a quick trip to Foodland. I cannot imagine living so casually, but really, is the world going to end if you run out of beans?

My husband calls our approach to dinners The Great Mystery of the Towel. Every morning instead of relaxing with a third cup of coffee, I go mining in my freezer. I dig out some unidentified bag, wrap it up in a towel to safely defrost it, and come home to what often is a complete surprise. I plan for pork but we eat beef. Only chicken seems impervious to food misidentification. You can always recognize chicken, but it's hard to distinguish a pork chop from a steak in the dark, so our dinners are often unpredictable, and, well, weird. Sooo ... I have resolved to amend my ways, and eat up the bags in the freezer. I rejected the cross rib roast sale at Safeway this week, and am concentrating on getting to the light at the end of the tunnel/back of the freezer. So if you ever need to borrow a cup of beef/lamb/chicken/ pork, feel free to call on me. My family would be most grateful. We are hoping to be finished with the 2004 bags before the end of this year.