Thursday, December 29, 2011


No matter how much I enjoy cooking, I could never cook on TV. It just wouldn't work because of the time and the waste. When TV cooks are cutting their vegetables they thoughtlessly strip off leaves, chop off a huge amount at the root and tops, and pitch them all in the garbage…no precise measure or thought of what CAN be cooked and what CAN be salvaged to use for stock and finally, most minimally, what IS to be tossed.

When these celebrity chefs transfer what they’re cooking from one vessel to another, they leave SO much behind in the pot! I often spend two-three minutes just scraping out the pan to get every last bit. It drives my husband (or whoever is holding the pot for me) crazy! Definitely not good in terms of TV time.

When these television masters wrap something up, they yank off a huge piece of Saran-wrap or foil and slap it onto the container; I’d be forced to slowly position my bowl so I could exactly judge exactly how much wrap was needed without wasting—because if I didn't  my father would be yelling at me.

If you've grown-up in a depression-mentality household you’d know: No waste allowed.

This thrift can often seem counter-intuitive when it comes to buying on sale.

If it’s on sale BUY IT NOW and BUY IT IN MULTIPLES.

As a child I often didn't fully understand this principle. “But Daddy, why do we need twelve laundry baskets?” “Daddy, we already have two dozen cans of peaches!” Or fruit cocktail or tomatoes or baked beans or something named “Kadota Figs.” The cellar of our house was lined with metal shelving and wooden bookcases crammed to the edge with canned, boxed and bottled goods. Cereals, pastas, paper products, anything you could imagine. My friends referred to our basement as “Shop-Rite Annex” or “The Bomb Shelter.”

Once when my father spotted a box that flew off a truck onto the highway, he stopped the car, risked life and limb (his and ours) to get out and rescue that box. When we got home and he opened his prize, it turned out to be 24 sets of pink plastic cookie cutters in the shape of clubs, hearts, diamonds, and spades. “But Dad, we don’t make cookies. What will we do with a case of cookie cutters?”

Growing up in a family of five with five refrigerators and a full freezer, all stocked with food, at the time, didn't seem so crazy. But once we’d all moved away and it was just the two of them, it seemed completely bizarre. “Daddy, there’s no way you and Mommy can eat 50 pounds of onions before they rot—it’s WASTEFUL!” I tried to reason. “That’s alright,” he replied. “I figured out that even if half of them go bad, it’s still cheaper per pound than buying less.”

Once while my parents were away for ten days, an upstairs water pipe burst and the house slowly flooded — first the basement, then seeping up to the first floor. His stash was destroyed. The insurance company sent out an investigator because they didn't believe the list of contents he reported damaged: 72 rolls of toilet paper, 48 rolls of paper towels, 60 boxes of tissues, among a hoard of other things…you get the picture.

When my father died in 1999 we discarded the evidence of his lifelong addiction to thrift. Three drawers in the kitchen were filled to the brim with those wire and plastic ties to keep bags closed. The freezer and five refrigerators (one in the kitchen, two in the basement and three in the garage) all had to be emptied of their old, sometimes indistinguishable, often, freezer-burned contents. And in the garage we threw away the 36 boxes of macaroni and cheese that had expired in 1975.

Must have been some sale.                                                                              


  1. Do you think it is possible that your dad had aspergers?

  2. No...that wasn't his issue...

  3. Made me chuckle and sigh.