Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Past Deadline: Don't Waste My Time

I hate stuff that wastes time, especially when you go to the trouble of being organized enough to plan ahead in order to save time later, but it backfires.

Over the years as the pounds have piled on and my meal-prep creativity (thanks to picky eaters) has declined, I have learned the importance of planning ahead. For example, if I remember to take chicken out of the freezer in the morning, then it will be thawed for me to use at suppertime. (I hate defrosting in the microwave because it cooks the edges.) That way there’s a better chance that I will prepare a healthy meal as opposed to grabbing take-out or cooking something overly processed.

We also eat better if I make a meal plan for the week ahead. Yes, that sounds a little bit Type A (surprise!), but then I know what to put on a grocery list and, again, it’s far more likely to include whole foods than junky stuff.

That said I’m seldom as organized as I sound. Meal planning goes in fits and starts. That’s why I was giving myself a huge pat on the back after Thanksgiving when I took the leftover turkey and made a giant pot of stew. There was enough to fill three big mason jars for freezing, representing the core of three future homemade meals in cold weather.

I cooled everything in the fridge before I put it in the freezer. I left room in the jars for expansion, just as I do for sauces and soups. Apparently, though, turkey stew needs a lot more room to grow and I didn’t leave enough. Within 24 hours the stew had frozen, but the jars had cracked and the lids were puffed out. I guess it’s kind of like how after you eat a big turkey dinner you have to undo your belt a notch or two.

This would have been handy to know. And don’t think I didn’t stare longingly at those jars and wonder if I couldn’t salvage my yummy stew – after all, the glass was cracked, not shattered. Alas, common sense prevailed and evisceration was avoided. All that time spent making the stew in an effort to get ahead later went into the garbage along with my broken environmentally friendly storage containers.

Another huge pet peeve of mine deals with that Great Time Saver of Our Age: Computers.


I love it how you can be goofing around on the computer and the Internet will be speedy and programs will open with nary a flicker of a problem, but as soon as you’re in a hurry (like all things in life), your computer turns into a cantankerous toddler.

I also despise when things that are supposed to be simple become unnecessarily complicated. Case in point: I e-mail a colleague one morning to say I have a bunch of questions about a project. Does she want to go over them by phone or by e-mail? She’s out of the office and will be working remotely that afternoon, she says, so send them by e-mail and she will work on them that day. I sit right down and hammer out a long itemized list for her and send it off, probably within 20 minutes of receiving her direction to do so. So efficient! Didn’t give it another thought.

That night at about midnight (yes, I was goofing around on the computer at midnight. I’m cute that way) I get one of those irritating notices indicating there has been “a delay” in sending my message to her. “Oh, don’t bother sending it again,” the notice says. “We’ll keep trying.”

Argh. Sure enough, when I phone her the next morning (at a time more reasonable than, say, 12:15 a.m.) she hadn’t received my e-mail. I sent it again – the very same thing to the very same address – and it went through. Why do these annoying things happen?

Yes, I know there are technical reasons for all of this stuff, but the randomness of it is enough to send my Type A sensibilities into orbit.

Not only that, but now I have a latent mistrust of frozen turkey stew and e-mail. It has come to this.

(Published in The Perth Courier, Oct. 20/09)


Sparky said...

RIP Stew. So sad. I don't even know how to make one :)

Karen said...

Arrrrggggh about the stew. And the glass mason jars! One step forward, two steps back some days. I've tagged you with a Friendship award.... pass it on.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

At least you can make stew.