Only a Toaster Oven But Oh! What A Lesson I Learned
It’s Holiday Season. Try this exercise.
It’s Holiday Season – or soon will be – and I am permitted to ramble. If not the season, then my years give me that privilege.
Bear with me. I have an important lesson for you and I can give it to you straight but I feel like chatting before I do.
For many years – decades? – a bone of contention between my wife and me has been cooking. She feels I do not do my fair share and have a hugely limited repertoire.
I don’t mind cooking but there are three big barriers:
Deciding what to cook. This takes up so much energy that there is frequently none left to actually do it.
Gathering the ingredients. Needs a trip to the supermarket and a lot of searching around and at least one pesky ingredient is always out of stock.
The package sizes are all wrong and you have to buy too much or too little. The excess goes into the refrigerator where it creates clutter till it rots and is thrown out. This actually makes home cooking more expensive than eating out.
My good friend and former student, Elisabeth Sperling, introduced me to a service that solves all of these problems at one fell swoop.
It is a vegan meal delivery service called Purple Carrot and it sends you three meals – more if you like – a week that you select from a limited menu. Three clicks and you are done.
The meals land up every Tuesday in a carton with cold ice-like chemical slabs to keep them refrigerated. Each meal has all of the ingredients needed and in exactly the right quantities. The instructions are idiot proof and there are pictures to guide you and the finished meal looks scrumptious in the illustration.
And I have now become a tolerable cook. I will not be applying for Michelin certification any time soon but I can feed a family and my wife has cleverly moved on to discover several new bones of contention.
Why am I telling you all this?
First, I would really like you to try Purple Carrot. Many businesses are failing, and I would like this one to prosper.
Second, to bring home to you that there are always ‘unintended consequences.’
And finally, to share a lesson that will being more meaning to your life.
Let’s move on to the unintended consequences.
Purple Carrot meals frequently require use of an oven.
We rarely – very rarely – use our oven so, over time, it became the place where we store a lot of pans, skillets, pots, saucepans and so on.
This means that every time I cook a Purple Carrot meal, I have to take all this stuff out of the oven, and this creates clutter outside till it is restored to its place in the oven. My wife briefly considered making this a bone of contention but wisely forbore because she rightly concluded that doing so would edge me back to my former non-cooking mode.
Being lazy, I sought a solution to this problem and I found one. It had been two decades since we bought a toaster oven and they have improved dramatically since then. I bought a high end toaster oven that is also an air fryer, a convection oven and you can program it to run two separate cooking/baking routines one after the other.
It works fine and I no longer have to take those vessels out of my oven and replace them when it has cooled.
So what should be done with my trusty old appliance that had given many years of good service?
I thanked it and put it out with the garbage.
But something niggled at me and it did not feel right. I got up in the middle of the night and rescued it.
The next day I took a picture of it and put it as a giveaway in my Next Door account. Nothing happened for some days and I concluded that nobody wanted an old, beat up toaster and got ready to really throw it away.
I took a final stab at finding it a home by putting it on Craigslist. Someone responded in an hour and I gave him my address and he came by and took it away.
And he sent me a heartfelt note:
I just wanted to say again thank you for your generosity and kindness.
God bless you and your family and may you all be happy and healthy.
And I was awash in a welter of emotions. That appliance that I was ready to so casually discard meant a lot to someone who lived just a few miles away. And I was so oblivious to this.
The person who picked it up helped me far more than the other way around.
So here is an exercise for you. It is very appropriate for this Holiday Season and I will be doing it several times.
Go through your house and note items that are in good working condition but that you hardly ever use. Particularly appliances like waffle makers, mixers and blenders, toasters, eggbeaters, pressure cookers and the like. And furniture like TV cabinets, chairs, desks, children’s tables and chairs and so on. And musical instruments and books and games and DVDs and encyclopedia sets.
And anything else that someone might find useful but you do not any more.
Take a picture of it and post it on Craigslist in the ‘For sale’ section, ‘Free’ sub-section. Talk to anyone who responds even if it is only by texting.
You will de-clutter your house and this will feel good.
And you will have helped someone and had a brief human connection, and this will feel even better.