I’ve been on a mission today, feeling a great weight of possessions on my back and already we have turned the corner and are more than half-way through our lease and moving in less than six months’ time. Pah. That again. If we have another 1 year lease, I think I’ll scream. I am sick to death of lugging my shit about the place.
So, to try to remedy this, I made a list of Things I Love And Are Worth Keeping, and a companion list of Things I Can Think Of That I Can Get Rid Of (Off The Top Of My Head). On the ‘Love’ list were Things such as teacups and saucers, my precious Agee preserving jars, this shelf and its contents, and my bicycle.
On my list of stuff I could get rid of without rummaging about, we had my drink dispenser, ‘kitchen things with no real use thus far’, maybe some clothes and Rata’s ‘Bouncinette’ which she long outgrew. What I could have added were the boxes of junk I never unpack. But that is for a day when all of my crap is in the same house. Right now, there are many boxes of things in our attic, and Louis’ mum is also host to many unregistered items and a great many awesome pieces of kitchen crockery. Let us stick to the main areas of the house, those without spiders and other things dusty and creepy.
So, to the kitchen. The drink dispenser elicited a a cry of ‘No! You can’t throw that out! It’s red! It looks awesome above the stove! Chuck it when we move out if you must!’ from Nicole, but I had to ignore her pleas. For one, the perfect opportunity to use it would have been at the party last weekend for the punch. You fill up the thermos, put the lid on, hold your cup under the spout and press down. And then three cups later you refill the thermos because it holds so little. Fair better to have a punch bowl and plenty of ice! Drink dispenser: DELETED!
Then there were the little cake tins that fit together in a long tray. I tried to throw these out last time we moved, but Louis rescued them after I bought the cream horns, reasoning, ‘You’re collecting this kind of thing, these fit that type of thing you say you want to have.’ But again, I have not used them. It has been at least two years, maybe three since they were purchased. Then there were other things, like my mum’s old cake tin with fruit on it where the lid doesn’t fit properly. Nicole rescued that as it matched one she has. The Mouli that doesn’t have a proper handle so is impossible to grind without hurting your hand. And then I spotted the cookbook pile.
Onto the pile I threw a book called ‘Cookies’, a book called ‘Cupcakes’, two books about preserves that had no decent recipes in them, and ‘The Modern Cook’ by Ray McVinnie. This last book is actually a good cookbook, but its premise of ‘basic recipe, variations on’ was an annoying structure, where you’d have to flip back to the start of the chapter then back to the recipe you wanted to make. I thought it would be a good cookbook for a ‘leaving home 18 year old’, with the basic methods of cooking fish, a roast chicken, or a nice omelet, but in those days I couldn’t actually afford any of those ingredients, and now the book has simply fallen off my radar.
The cupcake book was truly awesome, and a very exciting birthday present a few years ago from my friend Aynia when I was homesick in London and she made me nachos (bless!) but when I went to use it I found the most ridiculous instructions known to man. Such as, the yoghurt cupcakes recipe which uses the pottle your yoghurt came in to measure out the other ingredients, yet doesn’t specify how much yoghurt you are using in the first place, thus how big the pottle is. So although it has many wonderful recipes such as ‘Yeti Cupcakes’, ‘Tequila Cupcakes’ and ‘S’More Cupcakes’, I could never work out how to make the cupcakes themselves. And for me the cake has to be worth eating: I’m not in it simply for the icing. But this cookbook has been sitting on the shelf now as a weird and wonderful guide to icing, and I think it is time for us to part. Its new owner will hopefully be able to work out how to make them better than I could.
And then to the cookies book. A collection of British, Canadian and New Zealand classic recipes, but targeted I think at an American* audience, the recipes all contain ridiculous amounts of sugar. I feel as though my baking books are well and truly catered to by Ladies, A Plate (I bought this in a book sale about six months before Ladies came out) and if I’m pinched, my mum has a copy too! She also has a copy of The Modern Cook, so I’m ‘relaxed’ about how this will turn out.
Now I feel as though I have a very good but extremely small cookbook collection: Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book and Fruit Book, two Nigel Slaters: The Kitchen Diaries and Tender, my Ladies, A Plate duo and the best of Annabel Langbein (a tome that proved itself useful once again with its fritter recipe tonight). Plus I have a falling apart book called English Farmhouse Cooking by Mary Norwack (?) which my mum gave me and has the recipe for the apple pancake we ate many times as children, though I can’t work out which recipe it actually is – the Apple Tansy perhaps? It has all the basic recipes for jams, jellies and chutneys too, rendering those other ones obselete. I don’t have a one-stop-shop like the Joy of Cooking, but I think I’d feel funny with only one cookbook on the shelf…
But what does it mean to throw out a cookbook – worse, a gifted cookbook? I always feel bad when I discard things gifted. None of these are crap cookbooks, I threw out the duds when I moved to Paekakariki, a move of many throw-outs. These are all good cookbooks, just ones I don’t use, or ones that feel like inferior double-ups. I hope that someone out there is going to be thrilled with their (reasonably priced) TradeMe purchase and actually USE the recipes.
So, two boxes of Things I Do Not Love. Hello (I hope) small sums of TradeMe money to purchase other Things, though probably just Things For Rata. Sigh.