Thursday, 20 December 2012
This year there will be no wassail for me.
I've learned some things in recovery, one of them being that sobriety is a gift I give myself, a freedom, not a burden. And that the mindset of "substitution" is likewise one that keeps me trapped in old ways.
Many people new to recovery, still clinging to their old life in panic ask if it's OK to drink alcohol free wine or beer. What will life be if they can't have a beer at a barbacue?!!!!
I KNOW that feeling. I also applied that to mac and cheese. What's the point of living without mac and cheese?
So I face my first Winter Solstice sober. And the critical ritual at my Solstice observance is the passing of the wassail and drinking it to seal the covenant to take another, intentional and willing ride around the Sun. Now, how can one do that without wassail? Should I use alcohol free beer and wine? My mind was furiously darting here and there...fruit tea...brewed strong...it wouldn't taste the same but....
I had to step back and breathe. I had to ask myself what really matters. Alcohol free wassail isn't the point. The holy meaning of the event is the point. All throughout history humans have observed the Solstice, and that has included different foods, rituals, traditions in different times and cultures. The Sun will still rise if I don't have wassail.
The panic settles. I'll be using hot cocoa with orange and cinnamon. I will have chili and eat it over whole cooked grain instead of corn bread on the side, because those are foods that are part of my new lifestyle. Bread can set me off on a binge as much as a shot of tequila can. Last year I made saffron laced oat bannocks to eat at the ritual. I might do that again. There are a lot of options for food and drink. All throughout history and cultures people have enjoyed good food. There is no shortage of amazing options available to me.
When I focus on the wassail and bread and all I am being denied, it's hard to be in a holy day frame of mind. When I let that go and enjoy some of the other things life has to offer, I am freed to focus on the actual point of the holy day...the opportunity to pause and reflect on my life, beliefs, choices and gratitude for the Sun.
Many people will be celebrating Christmas with people who have altered their diet or drinking habits. This is not a cause for panic, blame, guilt or a frantic search for substitutes. It's time to try a new recipe, not just the old one patched up to meet the new need, with an apologetic "it doesn't taste half bad" or "I'm sorry it's not (insert food here) but James had that heart attack..." There is no need to apologize for setting a table of wonderful food.
It's been important in my recovery to not spend the rest of my life trying to find a substitute for drugs and alcohol. My life is better when I find different ways of enjoying life, dealing with scary situations and spending time. I decided to apply that same principle for the holidays. I'm not spending hours furiously seeking wassail recipes that don't have beer or wine in them. Then testing this one and that one. I'm just going to have something different. I'm freeing myself for other pursuits.
Winter Solstice is an apt metaphor for recovery and renewal. There was this dark in my life, and it got really damned dark, and then...the light shines again. The Sun rises and I can see my way to walk forward. Actually, there would be something out of whack there if I were to honor that with some mocked up booze free substitute for wassail. Because wassail isn't the point. That's recovery, resetting the compass so I can find my way.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind is weight loss. For many of us, losing weight means a gain in health and energy...self confidence and physical attractiveness perhaps.
Another loss, that reaps huge returns is that of addiction. Taking the "garbage" out of our life allows a lot of better stuff in...better relationships, health (including mental) and money. Most addictions cost a lot to maintain.
I've had the experience of losing jobs that gained me both stress relief and the motivation to find a job that served my needs better.
I've lost relationships that were terrifying and painful to let go of, but allowed me the freedom to grow new areas of self and meet new people.
I'm not being Pollyanna here. I've been through all of the above losses, some of them multiple times, in the past few years. I can see where I've gained, but I assure you my life right now is not paradise. Even in a "good riddance!" situation there is often a period of mourning. Change is a stress. Often anxiety is involved. Many people on a substance abuse recovery forum that I belong to, admit to mourning their drug of choice. It is often likened to losing a sick love relationship. We know it's the right thing, but that doesn't make it easy.
Is this where I wax eloquent on "comfort foods"? Well, that's ONE way of looking at it, but for me, at a time of many many mid life changes, I have reevaluated what constitutes "comfort". Oh how I would love to dine on tuna casserole, mac and cheese and chocolate pudding...for twenty minutes or so, until the leaden feelings hit me, until I remember that nothing changes if nothing changes.
I've lost the same 60 pounds more than once in my life. Three times in fact, the first two times gaining them back, rather quickly. This last time I have not. I have about seven pounds that play on again off again with me, but after two and a half decades of being overweight, and a lifetime of thinking I was, this is certainly a GAIN.
There is no secret, the best diet tip will always be the same. Eat a reasonable amount of healthy food and stay active. Little things, like parking at the back of the lot rather than the closest space available, DO actually make a difference. Drinking water instead of soda and iced tea. Using reduced fat milk and no fat yogurt. Passing on the 20 minute comfort foods looking ahead to the sustained comfort of clothes that fit, more energy, and feeling better about the way I look.
Comfort food is an addiction. There, I've said it. And after being in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction for three and a half years, it becomes more and more clear to me just how blatant an addiction it is. That "comfort" we feel is a rush of chemicals our brains release, and like any drug rush...there is a resultant crash and a desire for another hit. Some people can take or leave comfort food, like some people can take or leave drugs or alcohol, but for some of us...we get dependent. No, it's NOT a mere case of weak will power, body chemistry is extremely powerful. It's easier for me to pass on comfort foods if I just don't go there. Not at all. Just like I pass on the drugs and alcohol. For addicts, moderation, often isn't possible.
I've changed the way I shop, to change what I eat. If it's not in the house, I won't scarf it. How very profound! I tell you truly, I CAN'T have a bag of corn chips in the house. It's like crack to me. Same with bread. Same with a pint of ice cream. I don't keep pasta in the cupboard.
Now, I sometimes DO eat those things. I may occasionally have them in a restaurant, or at a friends for dinner. I will buy myself a small portion of ice cream, just one serving that I can eat and then there is no more. But even so I am doing that less and less because I don't feel good after it. Now that I've stepped away from the rush I can see it for what it was, what it IS. I can actually make a decision rather than acting blindly on a craving.
When I was considering getting clean and sober, one thing that delayed me was the fear over the horribly austere life...an eternity of NOT being able to have something. As I began to understand that sobriety is actually a gift I give myself, freedom, opportunity I became more interested in actually going there. It was a process, as is leaving a relationship or quitting a job. A diet change is no less powerful. We have an unbelievably complex and intimate relationship with food. It's a process. And like proficiency in a new job, or attachment and love in a new relationship, it takes time to grow. Sobriety too, at first there was a lot of white knuckling...it's not like that anymore. I've relapsed a couple times, but the thrill wasn't there. This time sobriety has "stuck". I don't want that other life anymore.
I REALLY like food. I still have to eat. I eat differently than I used to.
I do my level best to stay away from refined food. I stay away from flour, not just white flour, but all flour. I don't buy butter anymore. Olive oil for cooking and avocado for spreading. I have oatmeal and cereal like Uncle Sam, puffed rice, Ezeikial, or cooked whole grains. I eat a lot of baked sweet potatoes, right out of their jackets, or WITH their jackets still on. I don't keep white sugar in the house. It's a process. I've learned what sets me off on binges, and what I can eat without going to the bad place. I've learned which foods best allow me to live the life I want. I am giving myself the gift of freedom from food tyranny.
Marinara sauce over a serving of mixed cooked whole grains is good eating. It's not denying myself, it really is good eating. My oldest son would look at my plate and say "It'll never be spaghetti." as if it's an insult. But the point is it's not trying to be spaghetti. It's not meant to be a substitute for spaghetti. It's its own awesome thing.
Looking back longingly and mournfully keeps us trapped;prevents us from enjoying the new thing.
Now, why am I up in the wee hours of the morning droning on about this? Because I'm faced with a situation, a holy day, with certain traditions including food and drink. What am I going to do...a near panic rises in me. Will the Solstice BE the Solstice if I don't have my traditional bread and soup supper? What about the wassail? I mean, it's based on beer and wine. It even has a piece of toast floating in it! Ahhhhh.....
A slice of bread wouldn't kill me. I can buy a single roll at the grocer's bakery counter. But the wassail just isn't going to happen. I mourn. And if I can forgo the wassail...should I bother with the bread? I mean a hearty soup with rice or another grain or thickened with yellow peas or potato...or some chili...those are good. A panic rises in me...traditions. I didn't realize how important those food traditions were to me. I have to take some relaxing breaths and unfurl my brows.
I've decided that I will "commit" to the new year with a drink of hot chocolate flavored with orange and cinnamon. And I'll have chili with either cooked whole grain or whole corn. I've been thinking about that chili all week with anticipation. I haven't made chili in a long time and it's going to be yummy. I even found a new meditation ritual I am going to try that has me really intrigued. The panic of not observing Solstice the old way, the way I did for years with a gathering at my house, and a bonfire, and bread and wassail...has lifted. I've been freed. Those things were great, but this year, for a string of reasons, they are not going to happen, but Solstice is going to happen, and it will be wonderful.
Some of the comfort of comfort food was the sense of security. The tastes and textures that were familiar, the chemical rush from the brain, the memories associated with it. I lost touch with the fact that there are many ways to feel security, many tastes and textures that are wonderful to experience and other sorts of rushes life has awaiting for me. The permission to try and to enjoy new things is a gift I give myself. Freedom from dependence upon having things a specific way is a wonderful thing. I don't have to live my life wearing a cloak of mourning.
I thought I had to have things a certain way. Then I lost my job, spouse, home, belongings and with that some of the means of carrying out my traditions. Yes, there is life with other jobs, other homes, different and significantly fewer belongings, and different foods. It's been easier to appreciate all this when I gave up the "poor substitute" mentality, and began to enjoy the gift of being free to do things differently. No,my life is NOT paradise, but then it never was. Life is life, a mixture of fun stuff. and not so fun stuff. With people I enjoy. and people that rub me the wrong way. But I am no longer in bondage to comfort food, drugs, drinking or the fear that I'll be alone for the rest of my life. Oh, or the weight. I've shed that "shell". I've learned to live without it.
Friday, 14 December 2012
Winter Solstice is one of my favorite holy days.
It cuts like a sharp knife through the density of my thickening seasonal depression. It cleaves Winter into what comes before, and what comes after.
Many people celebrate a festive holiday/holyday at this time of year. Gifts, nog, song, dance, and rich rich food. I admit my Solstice observance is more sombre, but no less memorable, and no less tasty.
Midwinter is not unlike midlife. Suddenly forces internal and external make it clear that something is changing in a very real way. In midlife we look back over our lives thus far, our successes and failures, our youth and our dreams. We peer into the future wondering if we have enough energy, resources and health to push forward, to achieve our goals. On the one hand we laugh and say "life begins at 40!" even as our friends throw us an over the hill birthday party with a tombstone shaped cake. It's a time to wonder, to worry, yet still to celebrate.
Midwinter is when the weather gets serious. The cold no longer comes in snaps, it's constant and thick. The nights are long, and longer and then longest of all. The leaves have all blown from the trees.
I was out walking today, the pecan tree has only a few stubborn nuts clinging to it. Below it are mostly the blackened hulls and the dud nuts with only withered meats in them. The heavy nuts have been gathered, by people, by squirrels and crows. When I look out into the woods the tops of the oaks are heavy with leaves, but it is the mistletoe I see, now exposed. Where I live the oaks are thick with it, some trees seem nearly leafed out there is so much mistletoe.
As I sat visiting with a friend, I noticed there were no ants about. There is no snow on the ground, but the ants are missing. When we sat together here at crossquarter in early November, the ants joined our picnic, moving more slowly than usual, but they were there.
Yet the Winter is not over, inside I realize it's barely begun. I shudder. It's a long time till spring. In my case I worry that the depression will deepen. In older times, people worried over resources...food, fuel...health, and yes, then too their mental state. Would all those things hold out till Spring?
In a celebration of hope, of light in the midst of darkness, of community, and the food and fuel we DID put away in the Autumn harvest, we celebrate.
The cow will soon go dry, and the hens will cease to lay but we take the last milk and eggs for nog. The cider is hard. The fruit dried in the Summer Sun is brought forth and baked into lovely things. Nuts are shelled, and the Summer's milk is still to be had in the form of cheese.
Which brings me to today's recipe. Pan de higo. Fig bread.
Pan de higo is a lovely dense cake of ground dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey and spice. It's a lovely accompaniment to cheese. It keeps a long time, and is one of those things that, like cheese, improves with age.
My Winter Solstice meal is simple. A feast of sorts, but a less laden table. Food is no less wonderful or celebratory for being simple. While Christmas and Yule may be "eat, drink and be merry" holidays, Solstice is more of a taste and see how good this is. Yes, it's good. We are sustained, well fed on a lovely starry night.
My meal consists of bread and soup or stew. Not the sweet breads of Christmas, but good hearty solid bread. Plain enough to appreciate the goodness of the grain.
The soup can be whatever recipe brings to mind security, comfort, sustenance.
And with it let there be Pan de higo and cheese. A dessert that tastes of the good earth, that reminds us we are sustained through the dark times by what we put away in the time of plenty. Age does not merely wither and dry us, but it cures us, we deepen and mellow and our hidden natures are revealed.
Pan de higo is one of those things that has no one recipe. A basic pan de higo is made with dried stemmed figs, ground and mixed with almonds, sesame seeds, honey and some spice. Enough brandy is added to help it all stay together, then its rolled into a cake or log and allowed to mellow.
I prefer my nuts untoasted, and I don't drink alcohol. I like my food spicy, and this year I decided to use dried cherries rather than figs. I've made and loved the traditional pan de higo, but you know us cooks, we like to change things up.
I use my coffee grinder to grind the almonds and sesame seeds into flour. I softened the cherries with a bit of water and heated them in the microwave. I used my Kitchen-aid mixer to do the heavy work, though I've done it by hand many times. A food processor would do both the grinding and mixing, but i don't have one of those.
Grind the dried fruit of your choice (mix and match if you want) in the food processor or mixer. Add the seasonings of your choice. I use cinnamon, ground yellow mustard powder, chile powder (NOT chili seasoning which has salt, and other spices, JUST the powdered chile itself), fine ground black pepper, and a small amount of salt. Anise is a common ingredient. Ginger and cloves are often used as well.
Let it mix and add the ground almonds and sesame seeds. You'll have to watch your proportions, we are aiming for a stiff non sticky paste. If you prefer things sweet, you might care to add honey. If you like wine, ale or brandy, you can add a dash of that. I use a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
Keep tasting and adjusting until you get the desired consistency and taste. Some people like to keep some nut chunks in it, I prefer mine ground. Make sure everything is well blended. Then take the paste and form it into logs about two inches in diameter, or a wheel shaped cake an inch and a half thick. Wrap in plastic wrap, parchment and store in a tightly covered container in the fridge. Some people place a weight on their pan de higo, but mine is already about as dense as it can get, so I haven't bothered. Let it ripen. That can be as short as overnight or as long as...well, a very very long time if kept refrigerated, and it freezes well too.
Before serving allow it to come to room temp, slice thin and serve with cheese. It's amazing.
Once the basic paste is made, it's easy to change up the spices...one with less sweet and more mustard and black pepper. Another with the familiar ginger and cinnamon of holiday baking. It's part of the fun to play with the seasonings.
Pan de higo makes great gifts for people who enjoy cheese. The flavor is sharp and rich and somehow right. It tastes honest and earthy. It tastes of Sunshine stored away for winter. It is a blessing on the tongue.
May your Winter Holidays be exactly what you need them to be, may we all be sustained, and awakened to the ways in which we are blessed.
Thursday, 16 February 2012
I love to read recipe books and I am guessing that many readers here are the same. I can pour over them for hours. I've been that way my entire life. As a child I would sit and read my mother's recipe books the way some young people now pour over Harry Potter.
She had one recipe book that was aimed at new brides. If my memory serves it was actually a free gift to brides who registered with Carson Piere Scott in the 1950's. It was all about budgeting, meal plans for the year, what to make for holidays, what to serve when HIS folks visited, and what to serve when YOUR folks visited. It was fascinating. One of the sections was titled "The Tale of Three Chickens". It explained how three chickens could be used for a variety of meals all through the week.
I think of this often. I have entered a new stage in life, kids all grown, mid-life, in the process of divorce. I find myself living in a shared apartment on a tight budget. No longer cooking for five, but cooking for one. And I am stretching a chicken as far as it will go.
The local grocery store here sells rotisserie chickens. They are a good deal actually, for a few bucks more than a raw chicken you can pick one up hot and seasoned. Better yet is that my grocery store sells the left over chickens the next day, already cooked and cooled for half the price. There is nothing wrong with day old chicken, and at that price I find them impossible to resist.
Frugal, tasty and simple. Who could ask for anything more?
Monday night it's a cold chicken sandwich, or for an occasional change up a chicken salad sandwich. I don't do mayo, so I spread smashed avocado on my bread, or use it as the "binder" in the chicken salad. Depending on my mood, the salad might be the old standby with celery and onions, pepper and salt, or I might go poultry seasoning and cranberry sauce for that Thanksgiving flair. Or check out my spice cabinet...curry, or italian, frech provincial, mexican...the possibilities are endless!
Tues, I grab a leg and thigh. I make up a quick gravy with a powdered mix, or watered down instant hummus (if you don't know about this product you are missing out on serioulsy quick and tasty meals) or gravy made up with nutritional yeast powder. These take about five minutes to make, and are easily mixed up while the chicken nukes in the microwave. I find the best way to heat meat is to put it on twice the normal time and half the power. It heats more evenly and comes out with a better texture.
For a starch for the gravy, I use rice or grains (I usually cook up a weeks supply on Sun and just have to reheat single portions the rest of the week), or half a baked potato (another one of those things I cook up on my day off for use all week). Add whatever veggies or fruit you have handy and another great chicken based meal.
On Wed (or the next week, chicken meat freezes well) I pull apart some breast meat, season it and use it as a filler for chicken crepes or enchiladas. It works just as well in an omelet.
On Thurs, I am tired of chicken, so I eat something else, but take the remaining meat off the bones, stash it in freezer or fridge and put the carcass in a pot of water and make chicken stock. I add seasonings to my stock; garlic, celery seed, bay leaf etc. Then I drain out the bones, solids etc, and put the stock in the fridge. The next day I skim the solidified fat off the top. I can either freeze the stock (ziplock bags work just as well as snap top containers) or keep it for Friday night dinner. The stock will keep in the fridge for a few days, so it'll be just as good Sat or Sun too.
Chicken soup is an old standard. You can dress it up any way you like. A favorite of mine is tortilla soup. A Mexican spiced soup with a base of stock and tomatoes, with strips of corn tortillas in place of noodles. If I don't already have corn tortillas on hand, I make "rivels" by mixing masa harina with an egg till I have a stiff dough, and dropping small balls of this into the simmering soup. It creates small dumplings and thickens the broth at the same time. Very yummy. I serve my tortilla soup with chopped peppers, and avocados.
The stock could also be used for traditional chicken and dumplings, with some of the left over meat added with lots of veggies, and biscuit dough cumplings on top.
The stock makes a great base for a vegetable soup, either the clear or creamed version.
Any leftover meat is great pulled apart, heated with barbacue sauce and made into a hot sanwich.
And one last meal, Chicken a la King. Rich and creamy with mushrooms and a glug glug of cooking sherry, it really is a meal fit for a king!
All this from the starter of a 3.99 already cooked chicken!
If you are cooking for a couple, buy two chickens, for a family, go with the traditional three chickens.
I love old recipe books, don't you?
Tuesday, 07 February 2012
This blog is the second in a series on Late Winter cooking. Whether we are doing it for religious reasons, such as Lent, practicality, Spring cleaning, or because we spent too much over the holidays and have to stretch the budget, we are eating our way through our pantries and freezers.
Most of us who like to cook have a category of food which has worked it way back into the dark recesses of the pantry, something we bought for a recipe. I looked through my own pantry and this is what I found: a can of a canellini beans, left behind by my last room mate, mandarin oranges, a bottle of capers, crackers, half a bag of shredded coconut, dried cranberries, a can of cranberry sauce, two cans of cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups of dried daal.
I've done some snooping (with permission) in other folks pantries and here were some of the things in their pantry. Can of beets, canned green beans, crushed pineapple, Cake mix in various random flavors, boxes of jello, a bag of brown sugar (now turned to concrete) molasses, jar of curry powder, half boxes of crisp rice cereal, pasta in every shape imaginable.
Do some snooping in your own pantry. Take all the BIFR (bought it for a recipe) items out and put them on the table or counter. If you have any items that you have taken out, looked at and asked yourself "when am I ever going to use this?" and then put it back in your cabinet, include that as well. Marvel. Do the inevitable past date culling. Separate that into what can be composted or put out for the birds and squirrels and what has to be tossed. Take the extra moments to empty the containers and recycle them. Dump what needs dumping.
Take a look at what is left. Now, you might decide to take the item and go ahead and make that recipe, if you even remember what it was. But if that means going out and purchasing seven other items, and the point is to keep things simple, that might not make sense. You can google that item and "ingredient" or "recipe" and see what you come up with. If you find something scrumptious AND you can honestly say you will cook that recipe before March 21, keep the item. Set those things aside.
Do you have cabin fever? If often hits at this time of year, so the next suggestion might be just right for you. E-mail some of your friends, tell them you are doing a pantry raid and challenge them to the same. Pick a date and have a potluck, everyone brings a dish using at least one item they've culled from their pantry, and they can bring a few others in a bag and everyone can pick and choose. This is a LOT of fun, trust me you will laugh your heads off. Oh, and it's a great time to use up those various teas and flavored drink mixes we found in our search as well.
Soup, salad, sandwich! Some of those cans can be emptied into the soup pot. Canned beans are a healthful addition to a salad, or a wonderful salad in themselves, cold and rinsed and seasoned. If you've never had a baked bean sandwich you're missing something wonderful. Soup, salad, sandwich are three amazingly versatile categories, and a great time to think out of the box. I am not kidding when I suggest you try some shocking new combinations. Crunchy peanut butter and cranberry sauce sandwich. Pork and bean soup with crackers crumbled on top. and drained crushed pineapple on a fresh salad..yes it's great with Italian dressing! Canned beets are great in a cold salad too, and canned beet/mandarin orange salad is to die for! Don't forget those spices and seasonings you have tucked away.
Macaroni mayhem. It makes no difference what shape the pasta is, there is a quick sauce or plain old butter and salt to eat it with. Large pastas can be broken into smaller bits. Pasta salad anyone? It tastes as good in Winter as it does in Summer. And pasta is nice and easy way to get rid of the randoms soups too!
Meatloaf. Boy oh boy can you get creative with meatloaf! Another great way to use up some canned soup, and those crackers or bread crumbs, or dry stuffing mix. Canned veggies chopped and mixed in. Did you know that any not sweet cereal can be used in place of bread crumbs or oatmeal in meatloaf? Hurray! there goes those Rice Krispies! Those bottle of seasonings and spices? Curried meat loaf is yummy.
Dump cake! A good way to get rid of jello, canned fruit, dried fruit. (soak dried fruit for a little bit first), and pudding mixes.
Some of us are simply never going to do some of the things above. Nearly every community I know of (and many many churches) have a food pantry. If the items are in their original unopened package and not past date consider bringing them there. Even spices. Even the 12 grain breakfast cereal and jar of capers. Trust me, all sorts of people find themselves down and out and needing the food pantry at times. Imagine yourself in that situation. How tired would you be of canned soup, peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti and sauce? What if you have a personal commitment to eat healthy and everything at the food pantry is super processed? What if you are from a different culture? Wouldn't it be lovely if you went to the food pantry and there was something wonderful like that?
I have another idea, since we are talking food pantries and many of us DO make donations, not just clean out the cabinet sort. I never bring something to the food pantry that I would not feel comfortable eating myself or feeding to my children, unless the food pantry itself asks for specific items (they often have a list).
Any thing that is left, can be thrown away. WHAT! Waste food! If you are never going to eat it, you have already wasted the money, so you are losing nothing, and gaining space for things you WILL use. Again, empty the can or box for recycling, dump the rest. After you've done this, guilt or thriftiness will make you think twice before buying a food item you will never use again, or letting the remainder of it moulder until it's not useable anymore. This entire process is actually a very good spiritual and psychological practice.
Of course this won't be accomplished all in one day, that's OK. We have six wonderful weeks of Late Winter to attend to it, but don't put it off, at least not the initial culling, because we haven't even started on the freezer! Oh my! Basically it's the same process. If you can do the initial culling in the same week it will help you meal plan etc, since you will know what all you are working with. When you do your freezer please wear gloves. Handling frozen food for even a short time can do damage to unprotected hands.
Yes, this blog is about food, but the same process can be applied to our linen closets, (yes, swap with your friends). Clothes closet ( many schools have clothing closets these days, as do communities, this is above and beyond the thrift store) Appliances and tools (awesome to swap these) and the various cleaning supplies, paints, fertilizers, weed killer, insecticide and other potential hazardous chemicals. If you can't swap them among friends, call your local sanitation dept. They have a hazardous waste drop off point. If you don't already know what to do with used batteries or broken appliances ask them, they have the answer.
For some of us, this will be an eye opening, soul opening process. We WILL think twice when we shop. Maybe the super large family size looks like a great deal, but not if we end up not using it. If we want a less than critical kitchen gadget or appliance we very likely can find a used one in good or even new condition at the thrift store.Think yogurt maker, ice cream maker,bread machine or an extra coffee grinder just for spices. I have bought all of these in great condition for a song. Before we buy something that contains poisonous chemicals, e-mail among our friends and find out if they have some they don't know what to do with.This not only saves money and prevents waste, but it builds a sense of community.
Enjoy this exercise in mindfulness.