Kitchen Canisters

Innocent-looking canisters, but they’ve launched my summer kitchen clean-up.

As all teachers know, summer vacation is when all the projects that haven’t been done the rest of the year get done.  This includes things like filing paperwork, getting to the bottom of the laundry, and putting away errant Christmas decorations.   The dilemma is not what to do; it’s where to start.  A seemingly simple task can be like pulling a loose thread–you don’t know what is going to unravel.

The other day my daughter asked me, “Do you want those canisters I bought you for Christmas?”

And this is exactly what I’m talking about.  Of course I want the canisters.  I just haven’t had time to deal with them.  But now I have to deal with them because we are hosting a family reunion in a couple of weeks and John has to clean out the mudroom, where the canisters are sitting in the boxes they came in at Christmas. (Along with a lot of others things, like all his hunting gear, dead flowers, and IBM parts boxes.)

First, I wash the new canisters.  Then I ponder what to put in them.  You see, my daughter  gave me a classic five canister set, but I was not working from a five canister set.  I was using nine glass canisters of various sizes  that I bought when I got married thirty-two years ago, back when it was cool to show off your legumes and pastas in clear containers. I decide to put five frequently used staples in the new set and use the old set to organize various other staples behind closed doors in the pantry. (There’s nothing wrong with the old set.  It just looks very 1980.  That apparently was aesthetically troubling to both my daughter and my mother.)

That means I have to organize the pantry, and it really needs it.  The pantry is full of random bags of flours.  Some are double-bagged in ziplock bags; others are just sitting on the shelf.   Corn flour, buckwheat flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour.  You’d think we ran a bakery.  The all-purpose flour is already in a new canister.  The old canisters get washed and the flours get repacked.  Well, most of them.  A couple of bags of bread flour have been feeding a mouse.  Out they go.  Now I have to scrub down every shelf of the pantry.  And the kitchen counters have flour all over them so they have to be wiped down too.

I discover that I have more tea than I have canisters.  Why do I keep buying tea?  I don’t drink that much of it.  There’s black tea, green tea, decaffeinated tea, herbal tea, spice tea, fruity tea, Christmas tea, soothe-a-cold tea, wake-up tea, go-to-sleep tea.  I’m thinking I should have a tea party.  And bake a cake.  Some of the teas are in canisters in the pantry, but there are more in a cupboard.

The next step–tomorrow’s job– is for me to organize that cupboard.  I know already that the cupboard contains at least four different hot chocolate mixes and probably some half-used bags of now-dried marshmallows, some expired Sure-Jell, and “fresh” herbs dating back to 2002.  If nothing else, I need to purge the herbs because it’s time to harvest new ones and I need both the shelf space and the jars.

And jars!  Jam jars, honey jars, herb jars, vinegar bottles…they are everywhere.  I’ll put them away in their boxes in the mudroom, along with the eighty bazillion tea-light holders that need to be cleaned.

The new canisters are out (Thanks, Julie!), but the loose thread has been pulled.  I’ll be following it all summer.

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