I was sharpening knives this afternoon when I started thinking about the knives my mother had when we were growing up.
All of our knives are Wüsthof – bought one at a time over the course of about 15 years. Our pans are old Calphalon – also bought one at a time over the course of many years. And some Le Creuset, and fill-in pieces here and there. None of it cheap, but bought once to last forever.
Some of the knives my mom had would need to be heated to cut butter. The pots and pans came and went with the times. My dad was good at getting her the latest sets of whatever was colorful or stylish for the times – lots of packages to open under the Christmas Tree – but none of them were made to last forever. My sisters do have a couple of the iconic pots she had, but for the most part, the childhood stuff is long gone.
I think of it all because I marvel at how she was able to produce such fantastic food with so little. I’ll spend ten minutes looking for the right butter spreader to make a sandwich and then grab another knife to cut it – serrated or not, depending upon the filling and bread. She made a sandwich.
If I had a pan and a knife, I’d just do what I needed to do. With a dozen pans and a dozen knives, I have to stop and think about it – look for just the right whatever to do whatever. Having more stuff takes more time to do things.
This past year started the purging. We were a part of the neighborhood yard sale in July that saw a ton of stuff leave the basement, and we’ve been making regular trips over to the local Goodwill store with clothes we can no longer wear and household items and games we’ll never use or play, again. We’ve gotten rid of most of the various sets of dishes we had – we used to change dinner plates like other people change socks – but there are still 32 place settings of Christmas dishes downstairs. We actually did try to sell them at the yard sale, but no one wanted Christmas in July.
Not having kids has kept a lot of sets intact. We still have the same flatware I started buying in 1990. I think we have service for 14. It was one of those Oneida flatware deals where they sent maybe one or two sets a month for $19.95 or some such thing – serving pieces sold separately. We still have every piece.
We’ve been really good about not buying more things we don’t need, but we did blow it a bit, yesterday at Cost Plus. We went, primarily, to buy bar soaps. They always have a great selection and reasonably priced, so, we picked up a few. Then I saw the ramekins I used for the pot pies, tonight. I picked up two – on sale for about 3 bucks, a piece. We have four slightly larger that I could use, but… these are slightly smaller. Then we saw four glasses for neat whiskey sipping at 98¢ a piece. We have lots of glasses, too. But these were smaller. Not shot-glass-sized – we have those, too. Just smaller.
I don’t think downsizing means just getting smaller versions of the stuff you already have. I’m kinda hoping that 2019 is the year we get rid of a lot more – and not get smaller versions.
We shall see. Anything is possible around here.
Like getting smaller pot pie dishes and then piling them to the sky – more or less defeating the purpose of having a smaller bowl.
I made a variation of our friend Ann’s pot pie – I used chicken thighs and celery and carrots along with the frozen mixed vegetables – and used puff pastry for the crust because I had it in the freezer. She said she originally got this from a pie crust box.
Nursie’s Pot Pie
- 1/3 c butter
- 1/3 c flour
- 1 very small chopped onion (or to taste)
- 1/2 c chopped green pepper, leave this out if you want to
- 1 1/2 c broth, chicken for chicken pie, beef for beef pie, and I use veggie broth for pork pie
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 c frozen mixed veggies
Cook the onion and green pepper in the butter for a bit, whisk in the flour and add the liquids, cook until thickened. I season with salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, but you can use what ever sounds good. A little celery seed isn’t a bad addition, and with beef I use garlic and mushrooms instead of the green pepper. Add 2-3 cups chopped leftover roast whatever and the vegetables. Mix well and dump into the pie crust.
Bake in a two crust pie at 425 for 30-40 minutes and enjoy.
No shit, this is delicious. You can use whatever veggies you have around including leftovers. It is a great end of the week and I don’t want to cook sorta dish. But it is good enough for company! Anyone want to come to dinner?
I did a double crust and piled all the scraps on top just for grins and giggles. I baked it at 450°F for 30 minutes because I wanted the pastry to brown in the ramekin. And it did. perfectly.
Really easy, no muss, no fuss.
Now to see about getting rid of the four larger ramekins…