One of the biggest sins to avoid in my house growing up was wastefulness. Thou shall not waste: time, energy, eyesight, food or anything else. It simply wasn't done.
Collars and cuffs were turned, hems were adjusted, gussets were put in, books and magazines were shared, radios repaired, cars were maintained in the driveway, dirty things were cleaned and dented things either loved as they were or they were fixed. Both of my parents were raised during the depression and during those dark times they learned lessons that stayed with them forever.
All time was to be used productively. Thank goodness reading was considered a productive use of time or I would have been in trouble a lot! But sitting in the living room in the middle of the day was absolutely considered a waste of time. A waste of eyesight would be reading "trashy" magazines or romance novels. While I was never told that I wasn't allowed to read either of those things, I did hear the mutters about them being a "waste of good eyesight" which made me laugh because my eyesight was always terrible. I've been wearing glasses since I was 3 years old! A waste of energy would be trying to have a conversation with a person who isn't listening to you. I completely agree with that one.
Fabric was never wasted as long as Nana was alive. She was a genius with a needle. I remember her making curtains from sheets and a valance from a pillow case. AND it looked amazing! We handed clothes back and forth and up and down through the family. When our cousin Janet, who was older than Joy and I and therefore had much cooler clothes, handed down a box of outfits she no longer wanted, we were never embarassed by hand-me-downs, we didn't shun the clothes because they weren't new. Heck no! We were excited and delved into that box with big smiles, both hands and a lot of hope.
I remember one dress we inherited from Janet in particular. It was black velvet. And made of a really good quality velvet too. It was positively yummy. It was not only too big for either of us younger girls to wear, it was also much too sophisticated. Because I was the elder , Nana turned that beautiful sophisticated black velvet dress into a black velvet jumper for me. I adored it. When I outgrew it, it became a perfect black velvet skirt for Joy. I believe that, like most worn out clothes in our house, eventually it became part of a quilt.
But the biggest most important thing to never waste in our house was food. It was a very big deal. Nana would carefully save any leftover vegetables from dinner all through the week and re-present it to us in a green gelatin salad on the weekend. It was disgusting and we hated it but we were expected to eat it with no complain anyway. Don't be wasteful! Nana would carefully shave the blue mouldy bits off of bread or cheese, and tear the brown parts off of lettuce before making a sandwich and honestly I never batted an eye at that. But I drew the line at powdered milk.
It was too nasty to even consider. I would go thirsty before I would drink powdered milk. Real milk is bad enough but powdered milk makes me gag to this day just thinking about it. And when we didn't drink it we were ungrateful children and worse.....wasteful! We learned very early on to take only teeny tiny bits of whatever food was presented to us (so as not to be wasteful) because, frankly, other than Nana's baked goods, most of the food in our house wasn't very good. I completely understood, even back then, why they were the way that they were, especially about food. If you've ever gone hungry you appreciate having regular meals! Still it didn't make reconstituted powdered milk taste any better. Gross!
But now I am a grown woman with my own kitchen and my own rules and I have never EVER presented my family with a leftover vegetables in green jello salad. When things need to be thrown out, they are thrown out. And yet....and yet....that do not be wasteful thing is still ringing somewhere in the back of my brain. And I know this because I bought buttermilk last week.
As you may, or may not recall, last week I decided that I was going to make home made Cole Slaw for Tim. When I finally tracked down the recipe, buttermilk was the only ingredient that gave me pause. I knew I could easily find another use for any leftover raw cabbage (it's awesome on a sandwich instead of lettuce just for a change) but buttermilk?
So I started making a little list of things I could do with the leftover buttermilk. Heaven knows I'm not going to just throw it away..that would be wasteful!
We ended up with the Cole Slaw of course (which poor Tim ended up eating for three days straight! - no waste!) But also buttermilk fried chicken, a buttermilk coffee cake and tomorrow night with the last of it, probably buttermilk biscuits.
There will be a big sense of relief for me when I rinse out that empty buttermilk container and put it in the recycle bin. Whew! I used it all up. None of it was wasted! Nana would be proud.
That's probably why I rarely buy any specialty food items. If I buy, for example, sesame seeds to make Sesame Chicken, now I'm left with most of a container of sesame seeds. What on earth am I going to do with them before they are too old and yucky to use? At that point I am burdened with seeking out other recipes that use sesame seeds. And sometimes they also require ingredients that I do not normally have in my pantry. Yikes! More recipes to find! The pressure has increased exponentially. I don't need that kind of stress! Nobody does!
Still, occasionally stepping outside my pantry's comfort zone is a good thing. I know that Tim enjoyed all of the buttermilk related things that I made. And I had fun doing it too.
And just in case I get a hankering to make something that requires me to buy another container of buttermilk, does anyone else out there have an awesome recipe that requires buttermilk? Would you share please?
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.