The hoarding habit

The disaster zone kitchen has been largely cleared up now. The kitchen table is still piled up with foodstuffs that need to be re-housed, but otherwise things are mostly back to normal. Except that is for my general will to do some serious cooking. There is something about throwing away bags of ruined flour, sugar, and formerly dry pasta that damages ones will to live, er, that is cook with a light heart.

What I did discover though is that I am a hoarder. With a small household, there's no need at all to have so many things stockpiled. Why did we even have 6 bags of sugar and buy flour by the ten-pack anyway, when it's not even cheaper to do so? I don't bake that much, and I only need sugar in large amounts during jam and preserve making time, which is still weeks down the road. Likewise, we have still 10 cans of tuna when we barely eat the stuff at all.

I think the answer lies in my fear of running out of ingredients. If I run out of certain staples, I feel mildly panicked: olive oil, canned tomatoes, garlic, fresh ginger, salt, rice, milk, bars of dark chocolate (used for cooking only - there's another stash for eating). I'm not comfortable with just having one bag of flour (and of course, it's not just one kind of flour - there's white, whole wheat, spelt, buckwheat...), I need to see at least 2 backups. It' not like we can't just go out and buy it when needed...we live in a suburb, not out in the deep countryside. Still, I don't feel comfortable in a house that isn't stocked with food. I'm sure there is some sort of deep psychological reason for this stemming from a disturbing incident in my childhood or something.

There's another problem too. Other people may have a compulsive shopping habit, but I have a compulsive cooking habit: it's not at all unusual for me to wake up at 3 AM, start surfing around, land upon a particularly tempting recipe, and start cooking it right there. Max is now used to waking up in the morning and finding that some cinnamon buns, a batch of caramel, or a pot of mystery soup have materialized during the night, not to mention a messy kitchen. This is why I have a big plastic box labeled Baking Supplies (thank goodness it was in that box and didn't get ruined) of things like dry yeast, gelatin, sticky vanilla pods in test-tube like cases, food coloring, and decorating sugar. I never know when I will get the urge to make glittery cupcakes.

Having to throw away quite a lot of that was difficult. But maybe this will break the hoarding habit, just a bit. Though I can't stop that mild pang of panic at the thought that at the moment, there's no spaghetti at all in the house. No spaghetti!

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