Hoarding and Potatoes

My kindergarten teacher set me up for a lifetime of hoarding.  Thankfully I got over it.

My teacher was a wonderful woman who imparted her green-living choices to a bunch of five year olds (though this was a long time before we even started talking about the “green revolution”).  She told us that we could always find a second use for something.

I took that a bit too far to heart by then never throwing anything away.  My closet was a sea of should-be-garbage (or at least recycling) where you actually couldn’t find anything.  And that slowly extended into my room.

Like many kids, my idea of cleaning as a child was to throw everything on my floor into my closet, which wasn’t going to help my problem.  I also didn’t have a huge closet, which means that we eventually reached the point where I couldn’t open it.

I was in 7th grade when my best friend Brittany made the mistake of opening my closet.  I thankfully was standing next to her, and thus we were able to save her from being crushed when everything wanted to tumble out out the closet (it took both of us combined to slam the door in time).  However, it took every pound  in our scrawny 13 year old bodies to get that door closed, and then a chair shoved under the handle to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, my mother heard the crash of trash against the door (it had even scared my deaf dog out of my room, after all), saw the chair wedged precariously under a doorknob, and then made me spend the rest of that remaining weekend cleaning my closet.

It took the entire weekend, from 9am Saturday morning until 9pm on Sunday night.  I threw away or recycled 10 garbage bags full of stuff that I had managed to cram into a very, very small closet.  I discovered clothing that hadn’t fit since I was 5, a homework assigned I lost and had to redo from 5th grade, and a library book that I had been continually renewing for a year because I told myself I would eventually find it.  There were shoes in shoeboxes I had only worn once and then forgotten about. It was like opening up one of those boxes that cities bury and dig up in 10 years, except all mine contained was a lot of junk (plus some nice things) that should have been thrown away years ago…oops.

I’ve at least now learned that recycling and Craigslist means that someone else can use something for a second time (and it’s used a lot faster than I would keeping it in my closet)…which is pretty helpful considering I have to move for the first time in 4 years in less than 6 months and I don’t need to drag everything across the country.

Reduce the Guilt Au Gratin Potatoes

Yes, these are those potatoes everyone brought to potlucks back when this story happened…and they’re still delicious (and I made them slightly healthier)

Ingredients

  • 2lb frozen diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 c fat-free sour cream
  • 8 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted (I tried eliminating this completely but it doesn’t taste the same)
  • 1 c fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth (you can also swap in vegetable broth or fat-free milk, but I think chicken broth has the best flavor)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients and dump into a 9×13 in baking dish.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender and the top is golden brown.

As you know, this makes a LOT of servings (and pairs perfectly with ham or potlucks)!