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Defeating boredom with the freezer

"A subject for a great poet would be God's boredom after the seventh day of creation." Friedrich Nietzsche

As always that's not really where I was heading, but when I found that quote I couldn't resist making it my heading quote, and then I found the picture. It's such a wonderful thought isn't it? A subject for a great novelist I think. Which is not me. There will be a little bit later on about existential boredom, but not yet. This is how I was originally going to begin:

"it's like digging through a treasure chest, filled to the brim with valuable finds and ice crystals." The Freezer is Your Friend - Ottolenghi Test Kitchen/Shelf Love

From the sublime to the ridiculous, but that's everyday life in a nutshell really isn't it? One minute you're pondering on why on earth you are here, what's your purpose, what will happen when you die, and the next you are wondering what to cook for dinner.

I'm not really bored, although this entire blog was initially conceived because I was a bit bored. And honestly it has been such a success for me. Not in terms of making heaps of money and reaching millions of readers, with everyone waiting with bated breath for my next book - or even my next post. That was never the intention anyway. No it was just to give me something to do, now that I have so much time on my hands. To avoid boredom.

It's been a success because it has kept my mind active by making me think of potential subjects and also by finding out a lot of stuff. And it has reunited me with a few friends too.

Then there are the side effects - the vow to make something vegetarian, something with fish, something with legumes, and perhaps most importantly something new - every week - because not only are these good things to do, but they also provide material for the blog. So alright I don't always achieve those aims, but I do give it a good hot go.

The downside of the whole blog thing is that I am running out of ideas a bit and so invent writer's block ideas to keep me going - like the first recipes and lucky dips, with the occasional moment in time. However, even these don't always come up with the goods, so today I have invented a new one, not entirely because of the blog, I have to admit, and mostly because it's time that I did this.

Time to try and clear out the freezer. There it is at the top of the page, crowded with stuff, particularly stuff that has been in there a long time, and which I do not recognise. Because I'm not very good at labelling things. So today I have added to my weekly to do list - 'do something with one old item from the freezer'. That 'something' will probably include throwing stuff out completely - either into the compost or the green bin. And I shall feel immensely guilty. But I shall also feel good if I end up with an emptier and tidier fridge. One with real treasures in it, not trash.

It used to be that the fridge door, at least was stuffed full of items that did indeed get used. These included batches of pastry that I make for quiches, or leftover fresh pasta, cartons of softened butter because I buy it on special, and when you run out of butter you need a new one, and sausages. It also includes breadcrumbs and parmesan rinds because these are supposedly really handy to have available at all times easily. My trouble is that I forget they are there and therefore they don't get used. I think I even put two very brown bananas in there because somebody had some useful idea about them, but the other day I thought, 'to hell with that' and threw them out. I really should use those parmesan rinds though. When I have used them they have indeed added that extra bit of umami to the soup or whatever it is I'm cooking. David will eat his Crunch icy poles of course, but the sausages are mounting up. Then there are two or three mysterious foil wrapped packages. We shall see.

It's all very full. Of course I could buy a larger freezer - well not easily because there is nowhere to fit it. And anyway a larger fridge would be more useful. Besides a smaller freezer might actually stop me putting stuff in there, even though I haven't been very good about that so far.

This is just my freezer of course. The OTK people went on to say: "We have a little theory that much insight can be gained when having a rummage through a person's freezer." Which I have to say I find a mildly alarming statement, if anyone rummaged through mine. My sons occasionally do and it is not a happy experience. The OTK people gave examples from their little group of amazing chefs and they were all indeed different - pastry for one, shellfish for another and so on. I bet they didn't have anything lurking at the back though.

Theoretically there is logic to what I have in my freezer, but alas it has got out of control. The number one thing I do not do - well that's what I thought - is to put leftovers in there. And I am dreading what I shall find when I look into some of those. Whenever you read advice about what to put in your freezer you will always find somebody rhapsodising about how you can save time when making stewy things by making a big batch and freezing half for another time. Well that doesn't work for me. There are about half a dozen things in there that are leftovers, and mostly I have no idea what they are. Or indeed how long they have been there, because, as I said, I am very bad about dating things. Trying to improve, but still - bad. No leftovers are best consumed in some way a few days after their original making. Which is why I need a bigger fridge.

This is my first 'rescue' and this did have a date on it - not very old. It's a leftover quiche of some kind that I made for David's wine group gathering earlier this year. I think it might be carrots, and peas. I'm not sure. I'm quite looking forward to this one, and really I have no idea why I froze it.

If I was logical however, I would have started with the top shelf (shown below). It's just that I knew there was quiche and I fancied quiche. It's almost a Friday night tradition in this house.

So next week I shall extract that container at bottom left. I think I shall have to do it the night before using it (if I do) because I have a feeling it's been in there far too long and will have to be thrown out. At least I will regain the container for further use though. The other plastic containers have home-made vegetable stock in them and that's OK. I always try to have some frozen home-made stock in the freezer for all sorts of reasons, and it does get used fairly regularly, although I do have emergency supplies of packet stock as well.

I think that otherwise the top shelf just contains frozen fruit - always good to have on hand, and that does get used fairly frequently and one of those reserve butters. So I think the top shelf will be easily, if guiltily disposed of.

The rest might be harder.

What about that existential boredom though? When I retired I felt an enormous sense of freedom and relief. No more stress. But we can always create stress can't we? I would like to think, however, that the stress I create these days is either a worthwhile stress - or so trivial that it really doesn't matter.

The problem really is filling in time - in a way that is satisfying in some way. Steve Jobs saw this as a challenge:

"I'm a big believer in boredom. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, and out of curiosity comes everything. All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too."

And he is right, but, of course, we are not all Steve Jobs and we can't all be great achievers. The trick is to set your sights high, but not too high. You may not be able to write a novel, but maybe you can write a blog, or just a diary, or an account of your life for your kids, when they are eventually interested. Your days of being an accomplished sportsman may be over, but there are other ways of keeping fit, and you can still be sportily competitive, if that's your bag, with gentler sports than footy, tennis, basketball or soccer.

Learn a new skill, a new language, see new things, travel - even if it's to the next suburb. I had some friends, who, each week, would stick a pin in the Melways map of Melbourne and travel to that suburb to see what it had to offer. I'm sure that this was sometimes completely uneventful, even boring, but sometimes eye-opening, and if you combined the trip with some way of recording it - photographs, videos, journals and so on, then it might be even more interesting. You could research the area's history too. Obviously not everyone's idea of fun, but then we are all different. We just have to indulge our interests, or create new ones.

Another quote to ponder on:

"I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored." Louis C. K.

We don't travel anymore, which is rather sad. So nowadays I focus on the beauty of the area I am in, and zero in on the detail that I might not have noticed before. Perhaps I should do what my mother did for many, many years - be an armchair traveller - read about distant lands, or watch them on television.

Enough. I'm not really bored, and if I am it's entirely my own fault. In the meantime I'm looking forward to that quiche for dinner and a nice bottle of Riesling that David has found in the fridge. And look, I've rambled enough to fill another post. I do hope it was not too boring.

And one last thought.

"Boredom: the desire for desires."

Leo Tolstoy

Maybe those travel programs would create a desire to up and go.

The painting is by Raphael by the way.


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