Spring Cleaning

Here in the desert the days are teetering between hot and cool. Just when I think summer temperatures are here, a cold front blows in and puts me back in sweaters. Growing up in Colorado, springtime was a bit different. I watched for the first crocus to lift it’s head against the late spring snow and my grandmother would announce that it was time for spring cleaning. Spring cleaning wasn’t just dusting and running the vacuum. It was the deep cleansing that eliminated winter cobwebs and sometimes sent a pile to the thrift store.

I have to admit that I haven’t kept up the ritual but when I do, it’s deeply satisfying. I love the feeling of having an organized closet or a clean car. It’s so nice to purge unused items that have collected over the past months or even years. I think it causes me to sleep better.

A similar phenomena follows me into the office. Emptying an email inbox or clearing a desktop of files and papers both have the same effect and it doesn’t even have to be springtime. I’ve noticed that I sometimes use cleaning to procrastinate. That is, before I delve into that next project, I take time to clear away the clutter that can be distracting and inefficient. If I leave my office that way, I eliminate the early morning sigh from seeing a desk that is already somewhat defeated.

There are times during the year, when I get the same clutter in my fridge. We’ve all found a hairy green tub of cream cheese at some point but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m writing of the times when an abundant CSA has backed up – like I mentioned in my St. Patrick’s Day post – the Green Deluge. If you don’t have a friend to share your veggies with, it’s a great opportunity to do a cleansing of the fridge and to make stock. Vegetable stock is great to have on hand for soups, casseroles or any number of dishes and it freezes well so you always have it handy. It’s also an easy way to save money.

What cleaning project do you have that when done will feel deeply satisfying?

Vegetable Stock
Ingredients:
  • old veggies that you have on hand (I do omit cabbage from this list because of it’s strong flavor)
  • you’re not limited to whole vegetables but can also use peels or rinds from the week’s cooking
  • fruit can also be added (I’d limit it to apples and pears)
  • 1 – 2 Tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • water – your stock pot should contain half veggies and half water
  • you can also experiment with other spices such thyme or rosemary

Cover your ingredients with the water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour. The stock will have a more intense flavor by simply simmering longer until the liquid volume is reduced. Cool and strain to remove any pieces of vegetables, fruit or scraps. Keep small containers of stock in your freezer, so that it’s ready at a moment’s notice. Another helpful tip is to freeze stock in ice cube trays and then transfer the cubes to a freezer container. That way you have perfectly measured, small amounts of stock for cooking. Experiment over time with different ingredients and keep notes so you’ll remember what worked well.

Leave a comment

34 Comments

  1. What a cool post, Tammy! I feel the same way about shedding things – and I’m still debating whether it’s really “procrastinating” when I’m doing some impromptu cleaning before starting a new project. In a way I feel I’m procrastinating, but in another way it seems to energize me and get me in the mindset to accomplish my next goal. Anyway….

    And what an awesome idea re: putting the vegetable stock in ice cube trays for freezing. I never thought of that and will be sure to start using it. Thanks!

    Keep up your great posts, I enjoy getting them!

    -Tim

    Reply
  2. I love the clarity I get from clearing clutter . . . and, like you, definitely sleep better at night once I’ve purged a few closets or cabinets.

    Also, when I have too many vegetables in the frig, I make a big pot of vegetable soup or minestrone ~ then freeze in 6 cup portions.

    Thanks for a great post! : )

    Reply
  3. I also find it liberating to eliminate clutter!

    Now, cleaning my windows?? Sigh…sadly that doesn’t get done often enough! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Judy Swartz

     /  April 27, 2010

    Organizing is good for the soul and helps eliminate clutter in the brain!

    I have never considered making vegetable stock. I have only made chicken broth from the leftover chicken. That definitely gives me “food” for thought!

    Thanks Tammy! Nice writing style! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Judy. You can freeze chicken broth the same way and then use it for sauteing instead of oil. Easy, low cost and healthy!

      Reply
  5. I love spring cleaning too, we have a never ending fight with mould in our house, its an older queenslander – but it does have character.

    Reply
  6. sorry that appeared twice i was fixing up the typo and the first one still went through, I can really relate to the need to get rid of clutter.

    Reply
  7. This is our first year as part of a CSA – THANKYOU for this post…I am determined not to waste any of the produce however was worried what to do with it all if there are weeks with too much or something I can’t find a satisfying recipe for. Making and freezing stock is a perfect idea!

    Reply
    • Glad I could be of help. Last year I also bought a juicer (fantastic brand new one on Craig’s list). That also really helps although I haven’t been as diligent about it as I should be.

      Reply
  8. I love cleaning out and putting things in order so much that I even do it for friends. Putting their bookcases, cds or dvds in alphabetical order is my favourite thing to do. If they’ve got a lot of nonfiction books I’m even prepared to put them into the dewey decimal system…. clothes I divide into winter and summer and hang them in colour

    As for cooks – I go through their herb and spice racks eliminating all the out of date ones, then group different cuisines together.

    Is it any wonder I now work in nursing administration? I am surrounded by a plethora of files and am as happy as the proverbial pig.

    Um… I may have just a touch of OCD

    Reply
  9. Hey, a touch of OCD keeps us focused. Yes, I’m an alphabetical CD organizer and spice rack stacker also.

    Reply
  10. It does feel good to de-clutter. I can’t wait for my new fridge to arrive – it has a big freezer where I can keep lots of stock on hand! I’ve used orange in my vegetable stock before, and it came out well. I like how fruit gives the stock a little body from the pectin.

    Reply
  11. Great way to use old veggies, especially the ones the chickens won’t eat. Why does eliminating clutter and getting rid of stuff feel so good?

    Reply
    • it’s like losing weight, shedding old baggage, destressing… I’m not sure but I think it’s tied to getting closer to what we need as opposed to what we want.

      Reply
  12. Cleaning as procrastination when beginning work on a project? I’ve heard what someone above said, about it eliminating clutter from the brain…I do know I work better if things are organized and clean (especially when the project is hard…). Anyway, it feels so good to purge anything and everything in our lives we no longer need. I’ve been doing some of that lately on every level. Ahhhhhhhh….Like the photo, btw!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the comment windspiritgirl – I know what you mean about different levels and they all feel good!

      Reply
  13. amutha

     /  May 6, 2010

    Nice post Tammy. Both My husband and I are clean freaks.
    We do cleaning projects almost every month.
    Sure feels good when everything is clean around you.

    Reply
    • Thanks Amutha. Makes me feel good too. Did my office this week and I believe I work more efficiently now.

      Reply
  14. What cleaning project do I have that when done will feel deeply satisfying?

    Hmmm… I love to have clean and tidy space around me, so it can be anything really from cleaning out the house to reorganizing closets.
    It always fills me with joy to look around and not have piles of stuff I don’t need, or which are just laying around until I get tired of looking at them 😛
    Oh, and cleaning before bed is the best!

    Loved your post, made want to clean 😉

    Reply
  15. littlehousesouthernprairie

     /  May 10, 2010

    Hi Tammy! Thanks for swinging by my blog, and it’s such a pleasure to find yours. I have some carrots I am about to pull up that I suspect are a bit too small to do anything with … that’s what I get for planting Thumblinas … and into stock they will go!

    Reply
  16. Tammy – I’ve found that even when it feels like an endless thing – as you mentioned on my blog today, with family involved it’s hard to stay on top of it – I DO think there’s a calmness, a peace, and an inner psychic symbol we send our consciousness when we clear space. We leave room for new good to come flowing in.

    Love this piece! And here in Chicago-land it’s nearly time for fal cleaning – get windows etc done before closing up the house for winter.

    Reply
    • I agree and there are a few excellent blogs popping up about minimalism that you might enjoy. rowdykittens.com is one of them.

      Reply
  17. I made the stock and added an orange. Amazingly delicious!! A good reason for a CSA period. Hold on Zoë wants to say hi. Lllnb bcc..:__\mm. Cc. Thanks for humoring us 🙂

    Reply

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