Monday, December 26, 2011

Where Masterpieces are Made

The two most import areas of my house are the places where I write and cook. They aren’t the most tidy spots – something I chalk up to us disorganized creative types.

I know I drive Mr. Clean bonkers and I appreciate that he cleans the house and does the laundry in exchange for my cooking services, but he needs to accept that I’m a lost cause, right?

After a weekend with my friend “Mrs. Ultra Uber Clean” I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.


We spent an ‘International Christmas’ on Orcas Island (one of the loveliest since leaving home) with our wonderful island friends. Between the four of us we represented Australia, New Zealand, France and, ahem, Alaska. Not to mention our U.K. babies: A Staffy and a Westie.

Shan inspired me to stop being such a slob.

On Christmas morning she was up emptying the fridge of all opened wine bottles. She whipped out a mini handheld vacuum and started sucking up loose tea leaves that’d spilled in the pantry drawer. (As I slouched over the table with a piece of toast and water treating a hangover.)

For Christmas lunch she chose to make Tal Ronnen’s Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms with Polenta, Roasted Japanese Eggplant, and Smoked-Paprika Crème from The ConsciousCook: A major production that didn’t end till 2.

There’s nothing I love more than group cooking while sharing amusing stories and having a laugh. (I could have gone without the hangover and barfing, but we can’t have it all.)

(Note: I’m not much of a drinker these days, but I finished writing a new YA novel Christmas Eve morn. and celebrated with a bottle of champagne that obviously didn’t sit right.)

As I finished pureeing the smoked-paprika crème, Shan said, “We’ll clean as we go.”

Clean as we go? What a novel idea.

This didn’t just apply to dirtied pots, pans and measuring cups, but all clutter.

My bottle of ginger ale didn’t last 20 minutes on the kitchen counter before Shan emptied the last of it in my glass and tossed the bottle.

A bag of chips got chucked as I yelled, “Noooooo!” Too late. (It was still half full.) Shan’s answer, “I don’t keep junk food around.”

I set down a bowl of veggie salad I was snacking on only to have the remainder of the contents tossed in the bin and bowl stashed in the dishwasher.


I’ve never seen anything like this before. So yeah, it might be overboard, but that’s why it made a lasting impression. This morning I chucked an opened bottle of Schweppes my brother left in the fridge back in September. I removed the moldy carrots, beets and baseball hard limes from the bottom fridge drawer. I yanked my dead flower bouquet from the vase and tossed them off the balcony. When I spilled on the countertop I wiped it up right away rather than leave it for days and have to scrape at the dry crusty stain.

I’m on a roll. It feels liberating. It feels clean. And it’ll probably only last a couple weeks.

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