Category Archives: Traditions

Quarantine Cooking in the Year 2020: Grandpa Darrel’s Sheepherder Potatoes

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Upstate New York  I  Sunday, 1 November 2020

Idaho russet potatoes, or yellow potatoes
Onions
Butter
Salt (Redmond RealSalt is preferred)
Pepper

I’ll leave the quantities up to you, since I don’t know how many you’ll be feeding, and I never ate his cooking. I DO know he loved onions, and so did my mother, so I used one medium onion: to one large potato: to two tablespoons butter.

Do NOT use margarine in this recipe, or Grandpa Darrel will come back from the grave to lecture and haunt you, just like all the other farmers I know. He died in 1970.

Bake the potato, stabbed with a fork on two sides and wrapped in foil, in a 350 degree oven for around an hour, or however long your oven takes make a potato that’s easily pierced with a fork.

Carefully remove the potato from the oven and unwrap, being careful not to give yourself a steam burn. You can let the potato rest, as it’s much easier to slice when it’s cooled.

Slice the potato in half, so you can always have a flat side down on the cutting board.

Choose your sharpest knife. If you can’t slice easily through the peel, pierce the potato with your knife point first, and then place the blade of the knife in the slit and then slice as thinly as you can, without the potato crumbling.

Once your potato is sliced, chop up an onion. The pieces don’t have to be very small, as they will cook down.

Choose a metal spatula, NOT plastic or wood, one with a flat end. You’ll be using the spatula not only to stir, but to turn the potatoes, and to chop any large bits of potato and onion into smaller pieces.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. I don’t know what type of pan he would have used, but I’m guessing cast iron, based on the time period he would have been making this recipe, and the type of stove or campfire he was might have been cooking on. I use vintage Revere Ware.

When the butter is mostly melted, add the onions all at once into the pan, and stir them around in the butter until they start to soften and take on a clear appearance. (This is called sweating an onion.) Push the onions to the sides of the pan, leaving the center open for potatoes.

Next, add your potatoes, making sure to only add as many as you can place in the pan so most of one side of each potato is touching the pan and will get nicely browned.

Once the potatoes are crisply browned around the edges, you can stir the onion and potato together. Continually stir them, until the potato pieces are brown and white and the onions a dark brown.

Remove from pan to a warm ceramic or stoneware plate. I suppose if you had a small cast iron skillet, you could place it on the table on a dishtowel, and eat directly from it.

I don’t know what Grandpa and his kids put on top of Sheepherders, other than the infamous salt and pepper. I love to streak ketchup across mine, and eat them with a slightly runny over-easy egg.

I think a glass of orange juice tastes best to wash them down with, but I also like to have a mug of milk on the table, too.

Grandpa Darrel, the farmer, would want it that way. Enjoy!

 

Spiral Santa and Snowman!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York I Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Before December slips away, let me show you the Christmas ornaments I got my boys this year!

I didn’t even try to look for them in the stores this year, I went straight to eBay. I searched and searched from the comfort of my own couch until I saw the perfect set.

I found them, a Santa with a spiral hat, and a snowman with a spiral body! I wan’t sure what material they were made out of, but I suspected metal, because I didn’t think those spirals could be made out of any other material. Plus, the scarf on the snowman reminded me of the scarf on Thing 1’s very first ornament, Tin Snowman.

They ornaments were delayed in shipping, but they finally arrived on December 23. (They accidentally got sent to the wrong address, and had to be forwarded.) Once they were on the tree, I felt very peaceful and happy. All’s well that ends well!

Thing 2 thinks his Santa has a wicked hat. Haha!

[OTHER POSTS ABOUT THE BOYS’ ORNAMENTS]
https://wp.me/p8pd67-rd

https://wp.me/p8pd67-Nu

https://wp.me/p8pd67-19i

 

 

 

Grandpa’s Sheepherder Potatoes

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Friday, 26 January 2018

I never knew my grandparents, really. Both my paternal grandparents, James and Emma Christina, died before I was born.

On my mom’s side, Grandpa Darrel died just eight days shy of my third birthday. Grandma Gladys died when I was almost 31, but I barely knew her.

I have vague and fuzzy memories of her sternly crimped grey hair, polyester pants and button-down shirts, and her love of gardening. I also remember her orange-and-brown velvet sofa, and the hot cereal she would serve for breakfast.

She wasn’t a cookie-baking grandma, although I’m told by my mother and cousins she made delicious bread, twelve loaves at a time, to feed her large brood on a Great Depression, farmer-husband budget.

I’m also told by my cousins she had a room full of beads upstairs, and they loved to go over to her house and make jewelry. I, however, have no memories of this, although I surely would have loved to banish my boredom at her house by making a necklace or bracelet!

I DO have two white necklaces she made, though, and I wear them all the time, close to my heart. I wear them to remember my mother, Carol, who wore one of them very often to church.

I wish I had known Grandpa Darrel. My mom, his oldest daughter, says he made the BEST Sheepherder Potatoes. And he was, you know, an actual sheepherder, in southern Utah. That’s where he met my grandmother, when she was teaching school.

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FAMILY TRADITIONS: Pie Night with the Blended Bunch

BY NETTIE LYN ALLEN I  Bannock County, Idaho I  Thursday, 14 December 2017

Here’s the story…of a much skinnier lady, who was bringing up a very lovely girl. The girl had hair of gold (unlike her mother’s) and she did not like it curled (or combed for that matter).

Here’s the story…of a rugged man, who was busy with three girls of his own. They were four people living in the country, yet they were all alone. ‘Til the one day when the lady was set up with this fellow, and they knew they were much more than a hunch. This group soon formed a family, and that’s the way we all became The Blended Bunch. (Haha! Name that TV show!)

In all seriousness, my daughter was 13 years old when I met my husband. At the time I was working full time and going to school part time. My husband was a single dad with three girls (ages 5, 7, and 9) and they lived in a rural community on twelve acres. He’s worked hard on the land and it’s truly a piece of heaven!

Not only did we click as a couple, but the girls clicked as sisters. It seemed so natural for us to be a family. I love my blended family but I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard work! The kids have other families who have to be factored into our lives and holidays, and sometimes it gets a bit hectic and…downright tricky. That’s putting it nicely. If you’re in a blended family too, I’m sure you understand.

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EMMA CHRISTINA: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Thursday, 19 October 2017

The oval, cut-glass bowl on the top left came from Goodwill in Greenport, NY. The gorgeous cut-glass dish on the top right belonged to my father’s mother, my Grandma Emma Christina. She gave it to my mother, Carol, and now, finally, it’s been passed down to me!

The two pretty dishes on the bottom came from Deseret Industries, a thrift store in Utah. The rectangle tray, on the left, is pressed glass. The oval fanlight or sunburst on the right is cut glass.

When you’re traveling cross country by airplane, like I did earlier this month, you have to decide what to put in your carry-on luggage, and what to check.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

So, when I was flying on this trip, I carried with me my white Herschel backpack, the one I got on a fantastic sale at Urban Outfitters, which used to be by my work in downtown Salt Lake City. I paid $20 for a bag which was $75 normally.

Can we talk about pockets? “Because you know how a bear feels about pockets!”

One of the things I loved about my new backpack was all the pockets, right down to a fleece-lined pouch in the very top, perfect for sunglasses and reading glasses, a fleece-lined laptop slot, and all kinds of other little zippered and tabbed pockets, plus a key clip. It’s lined with red-and-white stripes, a signature of the Herschel brand.

Anyhoo, on this trip, in my backpack, I carried:
-some old family photos
-my mother’s little dark-blue suede high school diploma
-two pieces of her wedding silverware. (The dinner knife was confiscated by TSA and I had to mail it to myself from the airport.)
-Black Beauty, my treasured Fujifilm X30 camera
-a bunch of camera cards
-a composition book (I use them to plan events.)
-my keys
-my wallet
-my journal
-an assortment of pencils, pens, and Sharpies
-some snacks
-October issues of Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. I love me some fall magazines, I do!
-my Chromebook, which fell out of my carry-on tote and into an overhead bin, getting left behind. It had to be retrieved by a ramp attendant, panic!

But in a separate black Barnes & Noble book quote tote bag, I carried some other pieces I treasure too much to leave behind, and far too much to put in checked baggage. Three dishes: one of them pressed glass, two of them cut glass. I have a large collection of pretty, clear-glass dishes, picked up at thrift stores for 50 cents here, $1 there. (It’s all Cami’s fault! Her mother got me started on this hobby. But that’s an entirely separate blog.)

But these three are my absolute favorites, and I simply must have them on my table at Thanksgiving this year. My pickles and olives demand the best!

Last October, as I was moving to New York, I was determined to take two of these favorite, fancy-glass dishes, and placed them on the table for last-minute packing in a carry-on bag. But, after a rough all-nighter of closing out my apartment into storage and suitcases, then turning the place over to Thing 1 and his best friend, I was just too tired, too rushed, and too stressed to pack them.

They got left behind on the table, and I’ve missed them so.

This past trip west, earlier this month, I went to Thing 1’s apartment in Salt Lake City to drop off a bag of BLT fixins from our favorite sandwich shop in New York. (That’s a story for another day. Or another blog, as well. Or whatever.) I ransacked his cupboards until I found the two dishes.

They were coming with me this time.

Up at my parents’ house in northern Utah, two of The Rockets helped me pack at the end of my stay, before driving me, my father, and Thing 2 to my friend Tina’s house, to spend the night before flying back to New York. What good friends I have, truly. Anita took the task of wrapping the three dishes carefully in newspaper and plastic grocery bags.

Pretty sure she wanted the chance to admire them up close, since she likes antiques as much as I do!

I can’t wait to see them on the table this Thanksgiving, holding Cranberry-Orange Relish, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and black olives…

Welcome to Emma Christina @ My Copper Kitchen! New features will be available on an intermittent basis, whenever I inherit a cool dish owned by my paternal grandmother, Emma Christina. I will also feature newly acquired dishes from her era which I think she would have liked.

She, a lovely Swedish lady who died before I was born, she loved cooking and gathering her many children around her Craftsman table, with its four leaves.

I’m told that sometimes, when Emma Christina felt bad and life was wearing her down, she would head to the Implement and put a nickel down on a dish. Kinda like me, her youngest granddaughter, heading to a thrift store and picking up something inexpensive to buoy my spirits, something special and beautiful, all for 50 cents…

[REFERENCES]
“You know how a bear feels about pockets” is a line taken from the wonderful children’s book, A Pocket for Corduroy, written and illustrated by Don Freeman. I highly recommend it, and its predecessor, Corduroy, for all the children in your life.

The first book, Corduroy, was groundbreaking in that the main character, a little girl named Lisa, she and her mother are obviously not white, probably African American or Hispanic. They live in an apartment in the city, several flights up.

Considering the white-picket-fence, blond-haired, blue-eyed Dick and Jane books (used to teach children to read in the 1930s through 1970s), Corduroy is welcomingly inclusive of ethnic children who live in large cities.

Plus, Don Freeman’s artwork, scratchy black-and-white outlines, filled in with color, is truly delightful.

[VALERIE RECOMMENDS]
I love Herschel backpacks!
https://herschel.com/shop/backpacks/pop-quiz-backpack?v=10011-00001-OS

[RELATED MCK POSTS]
Read Finding 50: The Things I Carried, at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/finding-50-the-things-i-carried/

Read more about Grandma Emma Christina at:
A Word About Windows
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/anatevka-girl-on-architecture-and-design-a-word-about-windows/

Learn how to make Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/my-favorite-thanksgiving-side-dish/

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
The subtitle of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-they-carried-tim-obrien/1100228685?ean=9780618706419

Tin Snowman Update

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Thursday, 22 December 2016

Here are the Christmas ornaments I got this year for my boys, and for the first time ever, I bought them online. Even though I have more time on my hands this year than I have for a very long time, there is an alarming dearth of stores nearby, without a Smith’s Marketplace in sight. (Smith’s had become my go-to destination for the ornaments, as they had many matching Santas and snowmen to choose from.)

The clincher to this particular set of ornaments, when I saw them online, was two things: they looked 50s retro, like my new place, and the set included a tree farm ornament. Seeing as how this was the first year I’ve ever gone to a Christmas tree farm, they seemed perfectly perfect. So I ordered them and then held my breath. It was a leap of faith for me to not see them in person this time. And when they arrived, I loved them!

For awhile now, I’ve been wondering what I’ll do about this tradition when the kids get older and are on their own. It’s something I’m not really fond of thinking about, since I’d like to keep my babies little forever. But since this is an impossible dream, I’ve been asking myself some tough questions. Will I keep buying them matching ornaments every year, even after they’re adults? When they have their own families, will I keep their childhood ornaments with me at my house, or will I split them up and give Thing 1 his snowmen and Thing 2 his Santas?

And this year, I had a decision to make. Thing 1 doesn’t live with us anymore, so I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the ornament situation. Fortuitously, the ornaments I chose are flat and made of metal, so I came up with a very intelligent scheme. I took them down to Staples and made a color photocopy of each one, sure the copyright police would nab me. Then I cut them out, punched holes, and hung them on string.

When I sent out Thing 1’s goodie package earlier this week, I included the copies. I’m pretty sure he and his roommate don’t have a tree, but perhaps they can hang them somewhere else. Can you tell which ones are the originals and which ones are the copies?

Oh, and the original Tin Snowman? This year, when we decorated the tree, I had Tin Snowman stashed in my pocket so no one else would put him on the tree. After all the other Santas and snowmen were hung, I set up a Facebook video chat with Thing 1. I showed him our tree and asked where he wanted the Tin Snowman to be. His answer? “Up high.”

P.S. Thing 1 received the paper ornaments and hung them off a Royal Pine Little Trees air freshener. Haha!

[MORE INFORMATION]
“A very intelligent scheme” is a phrase I lifted from Martin Short’s hilarious character, Ed Grimley, as seen on Saturday Night Live. If you’re not familiar with him, YouTube it and have a good laugh! The humor of SNL has really helped to pull me through lately…

 

FINDING 50: Tin Snowman’s Twentieth Christmas!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Thing 1’s first five snowman ornaments, with the Tin Snowman in the middle. The top two are from Hallmark, the bottom two are his second and third ornaments. Unfortunately, I didn’t label either one, so I’m not sure which was second and which was third.

I still remember when I bought him, fall of 1997.

I was standing in front of a display of Christmas ornaments at Pier 1 in Murray, Utah, with its shiny red floor and dazzling display of pillows, glasses, and dinnerware. I was pregnant with Thing 1, and scared but happy, when I saw him. The Tin Snowman. With his happy, jaunty stance, I fell in love. And I thought what a nice idea it would be to buy a Christmas ornament for my baby each year.

So every year I did, I searched out and bought a cute snowman ornament, labelled it on the back with fine-point Sharpie: Thing 1’s name, the year, and usually a heart and “Mom”. It was pretty easy to find a snowman I liked every year.

But then. Five years later, Thing 2 was born, and I decided he should have a Santa ornament each year. And not only that (you know me by now, detail-oriented!) the snowman and Santa needed to match each other, so you could look at them and tell they were purchased together, same year.

This is when it all started to get tricky. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t have more than two kids, huh? Although, one year I did buy a little angel ornament at Hallmark, because it was right after Christmas and she was half-price and she had dark hair and green eyes, like me. This was the year I lost a baby. I didn’t have the heart to hang the angel ornament on the tree the next year, but I finally do now, I put her out and sometimes think about my angel baby.

Anyways, every year, without fail, I’ve managed to find the ornaments. Some years it’s been easier than others. One year I was driving back to Salt Lake from spending Thanksgiving up at my parents’ house in northern Utah and stopped for the usual bathroom and beef jerky break at the Flying J in Brigham City, and there they were, plain as day, the Santa and snowman ornaments with the springy-looking legs. That was absolutely the best, having purchased the ornaments so early, not having to worry about it as Christmas approached.

The Flying J springy-leg ornaments are on the left.

Other years it’s been much, much harder. There was a year where I bought craft kits which turned out to be pretty difficult, trying to hold together jingle bells and all those little pieces of felt, while wielding a glue gun of death. (I gave up on that one and the kits are stashed somewhere in the back of my dresser drawer, where the sun doesn’t shine. Maybe I’ll dig ’em out again someday.)

We have this one ornament, Snow Cozy, which gives me yearly heart attacks. He’s sooo tiny, this little snowman, about the size of my thumbnail, and I’m always misplacing him in the jumble of ornaments and freaking out that he’s gone forever. We used to have an artificial tree when I was with my husband, but now we have a real one, and I’m always panicked and sure I’m gonna throw out Snow Cozy with the tree. But I never do.

There was one year when Thing 1 announced, “I hate the baby! And I want to have Santas from now on and not snowmen!” Needless to say, that didn’t happen. And thankfully, he grew to love his brother.

There have been years where I’ve searched and searched and been in desperation I wouldn’t find the ornaments in time. There have been years where the tree has been up and decorated for weeks before I find the year’s ornaments. There have been times where it felt like an absolute chore and not a blessing, this tradition of mine.

But always, always, after I find the season’s ornaments, I feel so content about this tradition I started so many years ago. And always, always, the first ornament on the tree is the Tin Snowman. When I look over each set, each Santa and matching snowman, I remember where I was and what I had to go through to get them.

If you have kids or grandchildren, or even if you’re on your own, maybe you’d like to try out this tradition? Make sure you have a fine-point Sharpie to write the child’s name, your name, and the year on each ornament.

And I highly suggest you buy ornaments made of sturdy material which will withstand the years. You’ll be pretty sad if one of them gets broken, so try to stick to metal or wood, and not glass. One year I purchased blown-glass ornaments and they’re languishing in a storage box with tops broken off…

I love this tradition. It’s my favorite. More favorite, even, than choosing the boys’ yearly Christmas pajamas or baking Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies…

The mitten ornaments on the left are from 2003, Thing 2’s first Christmas, and they came from ShopKo. The ornaments on the right are bells.

 

I think both these sets came from ShopKo. The flat ones are wine bottle charms. 

 

Snow Cozy is on the top. He and the kind-of-matching Santa came from Hallmark. I can’t remember where the beaded-leg ones were purchased.

 

The picture-frame ornaments came from Hallmark, when Thing 2 was in kindergarten and Thing 1 was in fifth grade. The jingle bell ornaments with the spring hats, OMH. I might tell you what I had to go through to get them. Then again, I might not.

 

These are our ornaments from 2014 and 2015, purchased at Smith’s, and Smith’s Marketplace. The pine cone snowman had his legs on backwards and I didn’t realize it until I got him home. I had to operate on him with tweezers to get him fixed…

Family Movie Night

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Friday, 7 October 2016

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It’s been a long day and I’m relaxing on my bed, feet up.

Earlier today my sister and I went to my work (I guess I should say my former place of employment, since Wednesday was my last day, yipee!) and brought home enough cardboard Barnes & Noble boxes to kill a small forest.

We’ve been sorting and packing things into numbered boxes. Yesterday, we got to box 24. Of books. And that was before we even started packing my cookbooks. Today, somewhere around box 30, my sister asked, “Are there more books somewhere?” That’s when I started laughing like a maniac. You know, when you’re stressed, but can’t stop the inappropriate laughing? That was me.

We’ve been working hard and are going to reward ourselves with family movie night tonight! If we can find the TV. If we can get the DVD player to work. My equipment isn’t exactly state-of-the-art. The living room is chock full of boxes. But we’ve managed to clear off four chairs, one for each of us.

Last winter, when my sister came to take care of me, most Friday nights we ate her homemade pizza and watched videos: Chocolat, The Hundred Foot Journey, The Maze Runner, and others. We made popcorn in my new hot air popper, as well, and I got addicted. Sometimes I eat popcorn for breakfast, a whole bowlful. Hey! It’s a grain, so how is it any different from Cheerios or oatmeal or toast?

At my place, we have two holiday movie traditions.

I know most people are crazy for Christmas Story, but at our house, every December we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, and I laugh myself absolutely silly.

I love the Griswolds’ beautiful house, the wacky relatives, the sullen teenagers, the scene where Clark gets locked in the attic and is wearing a woman’s hat to keep warm, the part where Clark and Ellen are in bed and he gets the subscription card for People magazine stuck to his hand, etc., etc.

And in October, we watch Hocus Pocus, with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. I long for New England in the fall. The old Salem houses in that movie, and the flaming leaves, they always make my heart ache for the east…sigh.

I love the widow’s watch in Max’s room, the beautiful Colonial house Allison lives in, and how she ditches the gorgeous, yet stuffy party her parents are having to go on an all-night adventure at the Sanderson museum and all around Salem with Max and Dani.

The Sanderson Sisters! I love Winifred’s crazy red hair, buck teeth, and expressive, long-nailed fingers. I love Sarah’s blonde, ditzy, pitch-perfect boy-crazy act, and dark-haired Mary’s crooked mouth. I love the scene where the three witches board the Salem bus and say they desire children.

What movies do you love? Are there ones you watch over and over? Family movie night and holiday movies are so fun.

Right now is a good time to gather your family and friends around, go make a bowl of buttery, salty popcorn, light the requisite pumpkin candle, dim the lights, and press play…

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Legendary Lime Jell-O Drink

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On Monday, Thing 2 was a sickee, and stayed home from school, which was very unusual for him. He was complaining of a sore throat and stuffed-up nose, along with feeling he was about to throw up.

So, I kept him home and I called in to work. Of course, technically he’s old enough to watch himself, so he could’ve stayed home alone, but what a lonely feeling for a still-small twelve-year-old. I like to take care of my kids, just as my mom took care of me.

So, yes, I called in to work without a moment of guilt.

When someone in your family has a sore throat, a really great thing to make for him or her is Jell-O drink. It’s super quick and easy, too! All you have to do is boil water in the microwave and stir in the Jell-O powder. No waiting around for hours and hours like with traditional Jell-O…

HOW TO MAKE JELL-O DRINK
The amount of water you’ll need is the same amount that’s called for on the package, except you’ll be using ALL HOT WATER, instead of a combination of hot and cold. For a small package of Jell-O this is two cups of hot water, and for a large package, four cups of hot water.

So, boil the water in your microwave (I do this in a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup for easier pouring), then mix in the Jell-O powder, stirring very thoroughly until it’s all dissolved. Next, pour a tall glassful for your sickee and a small glassful for yourself, to test the temperature. Make sure to pour it directly over the sink, because there are invariably sticky spills.

Serve the Jell-O drink very warm, and did I mention to test it yourself first? You reallllly want to feel the warmth as it goes down your throat, but of course you don’t want to burn yourself or your sickee. Lukewarm Jell-O drink just isn’t the same. When it’s very warm, it’s sooooo soothing as it coats your throat, blazes down your chest, and warms your belly.

Well. I wasn’t sure if I had any green Jell-O in my pantry, and lime is our preferred flavor. Yes, the other flavors are good, too, but lime…

Hey! We live in Utah and green Jell-O is downright legendary around here!

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Way back in 2002, when the Olympics came to Salt Lake City, I was thrilled to realize the Olympic Torch was going to pass RIGHT BY where we lived!

It went from Valley Fair Mall, where I worked at the time, right down 3800 South, the street our apartment complex was on. So, I got up early on the appointed morning and dragged four-year-old Thing 1 along with me. (Thing 2 was just a twinkle in my eye still.)

And we saw it, the Torch, we did! It went right by, in front of us, as we waved our little American flags.

There was also an Olympic-themed tree at the mall and all kinds of huge banners around town. That figure skater is on the LDS Church Office Building, the second tallest building in downtown Salt Lake City, only barely eclipsed by the Wells Fargo building by two feet.

During the Olympics , there were two hot items. One was a snazzy navy blue Roots beret, but the hottest collectible trading pin featured a bowlful of green Jell-O with shredded carrots!

Ewww, keep the carrots, but there MUST be a box of the green stuff somewhere in my hot mess of a pantry, right? Things were downright scary in there and I couldn’t find a dang thing, so I figured since I had an unexpected day off, it was time to rectify the situation. (And yes, I did take before pix with my cellphone, but they’re downright shameful. I mean really? How many stale, half-eaten bags of Santitas tortilla chips do I need to keep? Again, ewww…)

So. While sickee was sleeping, I took everything out of the pantry, and I mean EVERYTHING, placing most of it on a nearby trunk we use as a bench for our dining room table.

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I had been storing the pantry food in boxes, thinking it would be easier to pull the contents out of the pantry and examine them. Wrong! It just made it so I couldn’t really see what I had.

This system just wasn’t working for me, so I broke down all the boxes and put them in my recycling bin. Have I mentioned I looove my little blue recycling bin? Yes, I think I have…

And then, everything went back in the pantry in a very OCD fashion. Cans on one shelf, boxes on the next, boxes and bags o’ stuff on the third, and down on the bottom shelf, extra Ziploc bags which don’t fit in the bottom drawer in the kitchen. Oh, and my stash of paper napkins.

You will never see a cloth napkin if you come to dinner at my house, even if it IS for Thanksgiving or Easter. I just don’t see the point of making extra laundry. I do use nice white paper dinner napkins for special occasions, though, like the ones made by Kleenex. Yes! You can wear lipstick to dinner at my house! But if you want cloth napkins, freshly pressed, you’d better head to one of Martha’s house(s).

But I digress. Let’s get back to my pantry.

Stack stuff neatly, so you can see what you’ve got at a quick glance. Group like items together and stack taller stuff in the back. I’m so proud of my pantry redo and it makes me happy to pull the doors open and be able to immediately find what I’m looking for.

There’s only one problem though, I never did find any lime Jell-O. I did find a box of strawberry though, and Thing 2 was quite happy with it anyways.

And lookee! Lookee! There’s plenty of extra room in there now.

Time to go shopping for green beans and green Jell-O and more kinds of soup…and I think I’ll put a grocery list pad and pen right inside the pantry.

Oh, and more Santitas tortilla chips! I even have some avocados ripening on the counter and two plump tomatoes in the fridge, waiting to be made into Easy Guacamole. (Find the recipe at http://mycopperkitchen.com/easy-guacamole/ and remember, Cinco de Mayo is just three weeks away!)

But this time the half-eaten bag of chips gets put on my counter and not back into the pantry…

[MORE INFORMATION]
To read more about Utah’s fascination with Jell-O, go to either of these links:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/03/jell-o-love-a-guide-to-mormon-cuisine/37929/#about-the-authors

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/feb/13/food/fo-jello13

To read more about each state’s tallest building, head to this link:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_by_U.S._state