Reduce, reuse, recycle...My Nana told me that almost everyday. She was referring to the leftovers in the fridge, or was she? Nana was meticulous in every way. A glance in her cabinets would tell you her story. There's a place for everything and everything belongs in its place.
She had containers in all shapes and sizes for storage. Some I still have today. She kept spent jars, margarine tubs, and plastic utensils. Looking back, I think she was the Queen of Green.
I spent the weekend at my grandparents often. On one Saturday afternoon I helped Dot, my grandfather, with the yard work while she prepared our lunch. We came in hungry and tired, ready for one of her culinary delights.
Placed before us was a casserole. She took leftovers she had stored over several days and made what looked like a mashed potato pie. Dot sliced the aromatic dish and gave me my portion.
The casserole was chipped beef in gravy mixed with carrots, corn, and peas. On top she spread a layer of mashed potatoes. It was delightful. I cleaned my plate. In her house you had to belong to the "clean plate club."
I helped her work in the kitchen throughout my childhood. She taught me how to cook. I relish those memories. I always asked her why she did this, or that, and she always had a reason.
Now I understand. Reduce, reuse, recycle. This is a way of life.
My grandparents lived during the depression in Chicago. Rations, green stamps, scrounging for everything you had. It's no wonder she chanted that phrase, stockpiled containers, and put pennies in a mayonnaise jar in her closet.
She worked with what she had to survive.
Reduce: Nana taught me leftovers had to be moved from one container to another as they were consumed. The containers got smaller and smaller as the food dwindled. Space and energy conservation is the way to go.
The more space you have in the fridge, the more room you have to store food. The more food you have in the fridge, the less energy it takes to keep it cold and fresh.
Reuse: She was famous for concocting recipes from leftovers. Give her an egg, some leftover spinach and chicken and she'd make you a quiche. Give her an old shoebox and she'd make a filing cabinet. Give her an old rag of a dress and she'd make a quilt.
I do that a lot around here. Our old TV/stereo center is a microwave cart. Our old armoire is a bookshelf. The old family china cabinet is the book hutch on my desk. Reuse and repurpose--what a great concept.
Recycle: Nana saved cans. She was also a beer drinker, but that's another story. Every night she crushed her cans and put them in a bin. When there was a couple of bags of cans we'd haul them to the golden goat--a machine you put your aluminum cans to recycle, it spat out money in exchange. Ingenious! She loved that machine.
Believe me I recycle cans. We haul a truckload of cans to the local recycling center about twice a year. I'm famous for walking the neighborhood with my little white bag and picking up cans. It embarrasses my teen, but a penny is a penny and it's good for the environment.
So, how do you reduce, reuse, and recycle? The concept can apply to more than just environmental issues.
Thanks to Kathy at Well Placed Words for sparking the memory in me. Her last post on turning the page and doing rewrites: Letting Go is Hard to Do: More on Maass Workshop got me going.
I'm off to reduce, reuse, and recycle some of my fiction...