Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bottle Deposits and Identity Theft

It took me a little time to figure this out, but New York State has a super annoying policy of charging 5 cents per bottle in deposits.  The amount is too paltry for people to fret about (less than a buck for a 12-pack), but just enough to encourage people to riffle through my dumpster looking for items that were thrown away.  Except, that they aren't thrown away - these are in the dumpster for our zero-sort recycling pick up.  The third night I was in my new apartment, there was someone, knee deep in cardboard and glass, looking for cans and bottles with the deposit labels on them.

Perhaps if recycling rates were lower, I'd be in favor of the program.  Or, if the deposit was so high that empty Coke cans were treated as currency and guarded until redeemed... so infrequently tossed aside that too few remained in the open for people to try to collect.  Instead, the middle ground finds me worried about what else I've thrown into the recycling lately.  Papers?  Important papers?  Needless to say, a criss-cross shredder was high on my list of purchases for the new apartment.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to Basics

I'm finding myself enjoying a lovely Sunday morning / early afternoon in Upstate New York.  It's a little adjustment (my local paper has no Sunday edition?  Seriously?), but all in all, I'm adjusting pretty well.

One thing I haven't quite gotten down is my eating habits.  I've been in my new home for a grand total of 32 days and have had my new work schedule for 11 days, but I still am not really cooking or exercising or doing house cleaning with any sense of regularity.  The cat is being fed, and I've gotten to church a couple times, but I'm not really taking care of myself very well.  Part of this is the uncertainty involved with moving, the other is the expense.  Having burned through a significant chunk of savings between security deposits, hiring movers, renting Uhauls, arranging new utilities, and the like, I really don't have a lot of money, but my routine is starting to settle down.

Last night, I found myself watching Julie and Julia, a tale of modern-day stalking and obsession.  Or, an endearing plucky young writer pays homage to her cooking heroine.  I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS, but I think that may be where this movie falls flat for me.  I liked her as a cook and a part of my Saturdays, but I wouldn't want to become posessed by her in the way that is depicted in the movie.  Julia's show was never really about what to make on a daily basis, but what to cook when company comes over or for a special event in the family.  The Frugal Gourmet was much more along the lines of what to cook on a Tuesday.  Those two, and Justin Wilson's Louisiana Chef, were my only real insights into how to cook growing up before the Food Network. 

Wondering if I could get some inspiration to rid myself of my current cooking cunnundrum, I'm watching the Food Network.  This is Food Porn.  I'm watching cuts between the chef and close ups of herb jars, and a slow pan over a pan of slowing sauteeing meat, over to a beautifully lit jar of McCormick's spices which will eventually be the key ingrediant to this recipe.  Then, you do have the shows that are about being in the kitchen cooking (not arranging flowers and setting tables that overlook the ocean), but the recipes are horrible.  Even post-diabetes, Paula Dean is cooking with butter and pork fat, and there is a curious lack of vegetables.  There's also no sense that people have food budgets.  I just watched someone burn through $5 worth of fresh limes when you could have bought organic lime juice for a fourth of the price.  So who today is cooking really healthy meals, quickly, and without burning through stacks of cash? 

It seems like we are in the middle of changing the food culture of the United States into something that celebrates local foods, fresh produce, and healthy food choices.  But, how do you do this in a budget-conscious way that does not become a full-time job?  Figure out how to combine these three competing interests, and you've created a show I want to watch.