Out with the Old
An Expirational Message
It’s a new year, and we’ve all made resolutions of sorts.
Mine is to organize drawers and shelves.
I started with my pantry the other night. Too bad I’d just
been grocery shopping that day. Then again, that was perhaps the reason I
decided to just get to it. There was no place to store the Coke Zero and
Iams dog food, my two main pantry staples.
Well, there’s plenty of space to store it now.
I started with the top shelf. ‘This won’t take long,’ I
As it happened, I had a lot of things I thought I was out
of. I unearthed six cans of Café Bustelo. This is Cuban coffee and I cannot
live without it. I found two tins of Ghirardelli double chocolate powder.
This is what I heap into my Cuban coffee every morning. Caramba, but it’s
I found four cans of evaporated milk — a pale but
serviceable substitute if I discover I’m out of fat-free half-and-half,
which completes the coffee chocolate mixture. They expired in 2007.
I’m not too worried about that; there are four quarts —
isn’t that a gallon? — of cream in my fridge. I know, because I cleaned that
out last week. Sadly, the Hershey’s chocolate syrup and the two six-ounce
bottles of Coke Black, which expired in 2008, had to go. I’m sorry about the
Coke Black. It packed a powerful jolt. They manufactured it just long enough
to get me hooked, and then stopped making it altogether.
Hidden on a back shelf, I found
several of the “old” style of light bulbs. These do not expire, a fact for
which I’m grateful. I hate the new, twirly-style bulbs. If you’re clumsy or
heavy-handed, which I am, they can burst before you get them screwed into
the fixture. They are filled with some sort of poisonous gassy powder.
note: Um, that would be mercury — the tiniest speck of it — much less than
was in the thermometer your mom used to put in your mouth — and no doubt
less of a health hazard than your Café Bustelo. See www.epa.gov/cfl/
cflcleanup.html for instructions on proper cleanup. And those “twirly-style”
bulbs that we, ahem, encourage our readers to use — use 75 percent less
power. You could buy a lot of groceries with those savings. But never mind,
Margo. We know you’re clumsy — we love you anyway!)
I found a box of matzo I had been thrilled to find while
shopping out of town in 2006. Out it went. Ditto for the panko bread crumbs.
When I shook that box, whatever was inside seemed to be a solid clump.
On the next shelf were canned goods. Well, perhaps the
word “goods” no longer applies. When I was craving it last winter, I had no
idea there were six cans of Campbell’s green pea soup sitting on this shelf.
Too bad. Then again, they were probably dead ducks already.
Green pea soup is a wonderful childhood memory. Combined
with one of Mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches, it was my very favorite lunch
of all time.
Aha! There, in the very back on the far side were two cans
of artichoke hearts. I love artichoke hearts. When I extracted them,
however, they left a sticky black outline on the shelf. The bottom of one
can had sort of exploded. I checked. They expired in 2004. Oops.
A friend visited from New York City last weekend. I served
some brie, and was wishing I had some “fancy” crackers. And, voila, there
they were, just sitting there on a pantry shelf. They were stamped 09.
I tossed the fancy crackers into the trash, along with a
box of low-fat devil’s food cookies that were way past their prime. By now,
the trash bag was overflowing with favorite foods I have had a hankering for
from time to time, never realizing they were just steps away.
I unearthed a jar of something I am absolutely crazy for:
Double Devon Cream. It should have been opened and enjoyed three years ago.
I sighed as I threw it in one of the dozens of plastic grocery bags I found
crumpled together in the far reaches of the bottom shelf. I knew they would
come in handy one day.
Speaking of expiration dates, they are not stamped on
everything. Was the small can of garbanzo beans still good? The code on top
said Z87X384. That tells me nothing. But, since the paper on the can seemed
to have yellowed with age, I bid goodbye to the garbanzos.
All this necessitated an extra trip to the dumpsters. And
as I busily bustled back and forth with my bulging bags of never-opened
canned goods and formerly delightful treats and snacks, I wondered: Wouldn’t
it be less hassle and heartache to just, every now and then, go up to the
dumpsters and toss in a couple of $50 bills?