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?
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.