The lessons to learn when cleaning out your pantry

Kinderling News & Features

What does the EOFY, a pantry and a recipe for coconut ice have in common? Jaquelyn Muller, of course!

A high-pitched shriek can be heard coming from ‘Fawlty Towers’ (the house now too has a nickname due to its unrenovated state).  It’s a cry that sends chills down the arms of all that live here.

Me: “I am cleaning out the pantry!”

Bodies come hurtling to save corn chips, unopened Easter eggs and treasured treats from seeing the inside of a black garbage bag.

It is a phase of my EOFY process.

Preparing farty financial crap for the accountant leaves me in a discombobulated emotional puddle, so cleaning out the pantry allows me to once again find my centre. I am a writer, I do wordsy stuff, I don’t do numbers. It hurts my head and bores me senseless that’s why I pay an accountant.  The only math that makes sense to me, is calculating the savings on a 20% off three-day sale at Coco and Lola, or dividing the amount I have had to drink into the amount of time I have been drinking, or is it supposed to be the other way around? See, I said I was rubbish at math. Although I am good at probability. I will probably end up going home in an Uber.

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Anyhoos, I was clearly feeling out of sorts after the mathematical mental gymnastics and nothing brings me back to the Virgoan mothership like a good old pantry clean out … ahhh.

There are very few things in life you can control, but I find exception in the following, (feel free to send me your list, then we can plait each other’s hair).

1.       Health and wellbeing: maybe not all aspects, but we can certainly try our best which is better than not.

2.       Smiling: who wants to go around being a Grumpy McGrumperson?

3.       Sharing good whisky with great people: this is how I want to go out.

4.       A clean pantry: in Queensland they call them safes. They also call school bags, ports, which is just weird. And don’t get me started on the whole scallop versus potato cake fiasco.

5.       Making a very conscious decision never to watch anything featuring a cast of Kardashians.

With number four in mind, I threw myself into the Fawlty Towers pantry and got busy.

When did I buy rice malt syrup? I knew that it was some arty indie sugar alternative bizo that I had only used a teaspoon of. Must hang on to that and find a recipe using such food wizardry.

What innocently started out with me tossing old food and half-eaten packets of pretzels, popcorn and pappadams, quickly descended with me armed with a bottle of Spray ‘n’ Wipe, Soundgarden blasting in my earphones and a 'don’t poke mamma bear' attitude.

Joan Rivers, my 17-year-old, showed concern by exclaiming, “You have that look you get when the council offers a hard waste collection.”

It is no shock that, by this point in the year, the pantry has become a scene from Hoarders. At any given time, there are at least three people and the dog in our walk-in pantry. I have on the odd occasion pointed out the ironically large size of our house considering how much time the five us all spend in what is effectively, a cupboard. I had dinner guests over on Saturday night, and even at one point they were in my pantry. It’s like a mud room. The family walk in the front door and go straight to the pantry in search of sustenance or emotional support. Locusts would exercise better pantry etiquette.

And there are always random spills of crap peppered around to show you where people have been.  Those sodding silver cachou balls that you use for cake decorating are everywhere. I can’t remember the last time I decorated a cake, but the cachous are always dropped into the mortar and pestle or all over the floor. Like when you have a gummy tummy and consequent hurl, you haven’t eaten carrots for weeks and yet there they are?

After having wiped down and tossed to my heart’s content I was feeling very satisfied, not to mention excited when I discovered I had a spare container in which to store my super greens powder -  it just kept on giving.

The time of the big reveal came. I instantly regretted not taking one of those ‘before’ shots like they do on the home renovation shows before unveiling our new-but-not Fawlty Towers pantry. It only distracted me for a jiffy as the family cried to see the results, that or they just wanted to get at food.

The door peeled back and we all stuffed ourselves in, including the dog. But quel choc, rather than grateful comments and admiration for the well-considered organisation, low and behold I had a chorus of:

The Gent: “Where’s all the food?”

The QE2 (daughter number two): “What happened to my Halloween candy from last year?”

Joan Rivers: “What’s with the cheezy paper towel doily under the soy sauce?”

The QE2: “You should have chucked out those biscuits, we hate those.”

Millie Dog: “Where’s all the food on the floor, I was saving that for breakfast?”

Me: “Get outta ma pantry.”

I did in the end find a recipe for healthy coconut ice via a fabbo-food website, Wholefood Simply using that truffle-based rice malt somethin’ somethin’, so that made the cleaning frenzy completely worthwhile. I now have a clean pantry and discovered a new lunchbox treat de jour (Check out Bianca’s website. Loads of gorgeous recipes and books you can buy if you’re in need of some inspiration or an excuse to clean out the pantry or 'safe', if you live in Toowoomba.).

A post shared by JaqMuller (@jaquelynmullerbooks) on

Republished with permission from jaqmuller.com.