I’ll sort it all out — next year

Sunday, February 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:14 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

This is the time of year when the weather is lousy, and I’m pretty much a prisoner in my own house. This is the perfect time, I think, to tackle those projects I haven’t had time to start.

I have several to choose from. I could organize all of the photos that have been pitched into a cardboard box up in the attic. Several years ago, I bought photo albums for each of my children, wanting to fill them with pictures of them growing up and their families. The albums are somewhere around the house. But I don’t know where. And to get to the photos would require climbing two flights of stairs.

I could finish the scarf that I was going to give to my husband for Christmas (that’s Christmas 2002) but I think I’ll wait until I finally stop smoking. Then I’ll have something to keep my hands busy and my mind off nicotine.

I decided to sort through all of the pages that I’ve torn from magazines.

Magazines have always been problematic in my life. I buy at least 10 each month. I feel guilty sitting and reading during daylight hours, so I put them in a pile by the sofa in the sunroom and I wait until after dinner. I always have a few within reach when I watch TV. I start looking through them during the commercials.

When I find an article, I leave the magazine open to that page and return to the boob tube. During the next commercial I’ll start looking through another magazine until I come across something interesting . By the end of the evening, I have four or five folded magazines on the coffee table ready to read, but by then I can barely keep my eyes open, let alone concentrate.

So the next evening, same time, same place, I start my ritual of leafing. By the end of the week, I have a pile of opened magazines with articles still not completed. And God help the poor soul who decides to straighten the pile and close the magazines. I eventually get through them, but it’s not as much fun reading about decorating your home for Thanksgiving when it’s almost Easter.

Most of my magazines are food-related. I’m always on the lookout for a new dish to try. I buy the fancy ones thinking I’d like to try some of the more sophisticated recipes such as “Orecchiette With Spiced Duck Ragu” or “Rib-eye Tacos With Onion Jam and Horseradish Crème Fraiche.” But just trying to pronounce the title is exhausting. I don’t tear many pages from these magazines; I just leave them on the coffee table to give the illusion that I’m a gourmet cook.

The pages I tear from between the glossy covers are usually easy-to-prepare dishes. I vow to make the recipe the following night. Then, when I go to the store the next day I forget to bring the recipe. When I return home, I realize that I’m missing the key ingredient. So instead of Moroccan Chicken, my husband gets a mediocre creation I’ve been making since the kids were in diapers.

I put the page with the wonderful recipe on a shelf in my kitchen vowing to try it next week. But by then I have NEW torn pages to try. These pages have been piling up for years and now I have a stack nearly six inches thick. (The ones on the bottom have yellowed with age.) I bought a binder and several packs of clear covers. My grand scheme was to organize the pages into categories and make a homemade cookbook.

I heaved the pile off the shelf and put it on the kitchen table and started sorting. I decided to divide the recipes into summer and winter, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Should corn soufflé be a summer or winter item? And what about a Mexican fiesta meal?

I had so many recipes that could be served in any season that I had to make one big stack called “miscellaneous.”

Well, that wasn’t going to work. So I put all the piles back together and began again. This time I used the tried-and-true method of separating meats, vegetables, etc.

Then I made the mistake of actually reading a few recipes. One sounded so good that I stopped my “project” and made the double dark chocolate chip cookies. By the time I finished baking, the kitchen was a wreck and I was stuffed with cookie dough and getting a little sleepy.

I was also out of the mood to sort. I picked up each of the piles, put them back into a big stack and marched it back to the shelf.

I figure I’ll get the hankering to tackle the job about this time next year. In the meantime, I’ll continue my ritual of reading and tearing pages from my magazines. But this year, I’m resolving to try the recipe before I place it in the pile. I have a feeling the pile isn’t going to grow much.

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