Lessons Learned (So Far)

February 25, 2011

People who know I’m doing this experiment are always asking, How are things going? I have yet to come up with a good answer. Aside from the workplace gift-giving pickle, I haven’t run into any problems. I felt a little twinge when Channing and I drove past Ann Taylor on the way to the movie theater this weekend, but other than that, I haven’t missed shopping. So, maybe it would be best to focus on a few things I’ve learned these first eight weeks:

1. Making lasagna does not require aluminum foil (in fact, very few things do).

I made a pesto lasagna for a birthday celebration last weekend and baked it uncovered. Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything actually doesn’t call for covering the dish, and his suggested cooking time is super short—25 minutes at 400 degrees. The top layer of noodles was a touch dry, but no one complained because the lasagna was downright delicious. Isn’t anything with pesto?

Interesting note: I’m not using foil for much of anything right now, but I still feel the need to hoard it. When my colleagues and I went to Cosi for the boss’s birthday, I took the foil they wrapped my bread in home with me. It’s sitting under the sink with my one or two other foil scraps not in use. In fact, I keep reusing the same one piece (to store onion leftovers). It’s pretty worn out at this point and probably leaching all kinds of nasty things into my onions.

2. Pumpkin pie ice cream is awesome.

In my continuing effort not to waste food, I finally cut open one of the pumpkins I have had stored atop my fridge since November. The first half of it went into a roasted squash dish with beans, (local greenhouse) tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and onions. Despite the aromatics, the dish wasn’t that great, and the pumpkin in particular was bland. So, I decided I needed to bake the rest of it into submission, spice it up—and then turn it into ice cream. Best idea ever.

3. If I stay out of the stores, I don’t buy anything.

This lesson is a bit obvious, sure, but still worth noting. A couple weeks back, Channing and I were in Fairfax to see The Fighter at Cinema Arts. After the movie, we went across the street to the Record and Tape Exchange in hopes of exchanging some Christmas vinyl Channing had picked up from Freecycle last summer. The exchange was denied (the employee we spoke to had been forbidden from accepting Christmas music), but Channing decided he wanted to browse anyway. So, of course, I ended up browsing with him. It turns out, in addition to loads of used vinyl and CDs, the Record and Tape Exchange deals in DVDs, including full seasons of Gilmore Girls. If I were not hyperconscious of my spending at the moment, I would’ve dropped fifteen bucks on season 5—which then, after one or two views, would’ve sat on the shelf with my copy of season 3, collecting dust. (Hmm, maybe I should take season 3 to the Exchange.) I think it’s best for now to avoid temptation altogether and stay out of the stores.

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