There's a time when you really have to take a deep breath and shout "SENSE OF PROPORTION" at yourself, preferably aloud so you worry that the neighbours might have heard; hopefully you are therefore less likely to do it again. It happened to me this morning, when I was vaguely considering making chicken soup for lunch and found, to my horror, no chicken stock in the freezer. Imagine that. Appalling. I was brought up with a very Nigel Slater "get the most out of a meal" ethic - you never throw a roast chicken carcass away without first having stripped all remaining meat off for sandwiches, and having boiled the bones for stock, which then ends up as peculiar unlabelled bags in the freezer. At one point there were six, which was fine. But evidently we have eaten a lot of soup recently, hence the shocking stock drought. Good God, am I going to have to use (gasp) Knorr????? Pause for deep zen breathing and a lie down.
The Slater ethic has now filled my freezer and half my fridge with suspiciously anonymous bowls of whatnot. I acquired a Sharpie recently (the finest indelible write-anywhere marker in the world, excellent for surreptitiously correcting spelling on laminated airplane instruction cards) but the problem is that being indelible it can't be, obviously, erased - so Tupperware boxes have multiple scribbled-out messages on them that read "apple sauce, NO, RATATOUILLE tomato soup 1994". Items are only readily identifiable when defrosted, and sometimes leftover beef stew doesn't add a great deal to a fruit cake. A nice woman came into the shop the other week and (this happens a lot in Barnes) said "Does anybody want a bag of windfalls? We've got too many." And like the freezer-stuffing fool I am, I took two. Some painful hours of peeling, coring and throwing away the bruised half of each apple ensued - I now have six bags of apple sauce in the freezer too. Would it have been so hard to say no?
I should really point out that none of this is the sign of great virtue - it's further proof of my insidious OCD. I so can't bear to throw food away that sometimes I even put things in the freezer in order to avoid putting them in the bin. A couple of weeks ago I bought what I stupidly thought was a bunch of chard at the rip-off farmers' market up the road - of course it turned out to be pak choi, which don't get me wrong is fine, but even Sainsbury's has it. I wanted chard, with cheese sauce. Having chopped it up, washed it, and even blanched it, I was forced to accept the inevitable - I now had a saucepan full of limp Chinese cabbage. So I froze it. It's still there, silently reproaching me. Maybe one day I'll get it out and do something faintly repulsive with it. I even labelled the bag "CHARD JUST DEFROST AND COOK WITH CHEESE SAUCE actually it might be pak choi". What am I hoping for? That it may just morph into chard through the power of positive thinking? Or that Mr Fishwife will throw it away when he can't fit some hot cross buns in the second drawer down? I need help. Or, failing that, a bigger freezer. It could be worse - Mantua Maker was staying the other week, and raving about the delights of the huge freezer she and Professor MM have acquired - "We needed a larger one because we're involved in this pork scheme with another couple" she said (I can only assume this isn't a Northern euphemism for swinging). At least nobody has tried to involve me and Mr Fishwife in a pork scheme.