The Super Duper Pooper Scooper…Makes White Bean and Kale Soup

White Bean and Kale Soup Peppered with Pancetta

“I feel like a…like a…sh@$ shoveler. I can’t help it and I know I’m like a broken record whining and moaning about this every year at this time. But I do. Every year there’s this grand celebration about gifts and giving but once it’s over and everyone has moved on to the next “big thing” who has to take care of the clean-up? Go through the old stuff to make room for the new stuff? Figure out what to do with the old stuff? Dump? Goodwill? Craig’s List? Me, the sh@$ shoveler, that’s who. Where’s the giving in that?? I should have known that this would be part of my destiny. All those years of my parents handing me a bucket and a shovel and pointing to the dog pen while my father called out, ‘There she goes, our little Super Duper Pooper Scooper!’”

And on and on I went, lamenting to one of my dearest, dearest friends about the aftermath of the holidays. Same old song and dance. But I can’t help it. It’s how I feel every year. The prospect of a pile of new stuff coming into our house just doesn’t thrill me the way it might for other people. I tend to be cranky about it. I’ve been called Scrooge. I’ve even been told by my sweetie that I can be downright “scary” about the whole thing. And I know that any family member of mine who might be reading this right now is probably rolling his or her eyes…..”Here she goes again.”

Cannellini Beans

But here’s the thing….nothing thrills me more than a small handful of freshly sharpened pencils. A medicine cabinet that is organized and labeled. Lego pieces that have been separated into individual bins – Small, Medium, Large, People…as opposed to dumped into one big bin or “Horrors!” strewn across the floor making it difficult for people to walk down the hallway without knocking over a prized creation. A toy closet with up-to-date toys as opposed to one filled with toddler toys no longer used or wanted. A bookshelf with just a few loved possessions on it. Less is more. Less is more. Bring more stuff in the house and now “we” (ie: me)  have to find a new place for it. In closets that are already full.

As the years have gone by and time has become scarce due to the magnitude of responsibilities required for raising a family, I haven’t been able to indulge my OCD tendencies like I used to. Organizing and purging take a lot of time. But, opening a closet, a cupboard or just walking in our garage has become a hazard. And every passing day, I become grumpier and grumpier about the situation.

And then, the funniest thing happened. I hung up the phone after my “vent session” and paragraph one, above, kept replaying in my mind. Over and over and over. And what I heard was that I am, in fact, the “Super Duper Pooper Scooper.” So let’s get going. Less talking…more walking. Just like the dishes….can’t think about it. Just do it. And so, right at that very moment, I grabbed my labeler, wrote garbage on one bag and donate on another and ran up the stairs. I hauled everything out of my medicine cabinet and my toiletries drawer and dumped it on the floor. I wiped down the shelves. Dug out from another closet the organizing bin I’d purchased years ago for my drawer. Fired up the labeler. Categorized. Organized. Pitched. Purged. And not but an hour or two later, I stood back and admired my new sparkly clean and organized bathroom. I felt refreshed. I could breathe.

Right then and there, in that moment of blissful deep breathing, I decided that this had to continue. I had to make this a goal for 2011 – Clean out all closets, and dare I say it, the garage!! Lighten the load. And so, my dear friends, I have blocked out a regular time each week that I will be purging based on my prioritized list. Whatever gets done during that time is what gets done. I have been trying to talk my dear friend and neighbor into doing this with me. It could be like a race. As soon as the last ones are on the bus, we announce what we are organizing that day and then,….”On your mark get set go.” We would meet back up at lunch time to discuss our progress. A little competition is always good for getting things done.

Want to join me…us? Choose your day, afternoon, evening. Perhaps tell me what is first on your list to organize. A little accountability is always good. I will be posting at the bottom of my weekly posts, what I will be organizing that week and whether or not I finished the project from the week before. That’s my way of being accountable. Once winter is over….the spring cleaning may already be done.

Winter sky

In the meantime, as a way to lessen what actually comes into our home, I will continue to preach my time-honored mantras to my tribe:

Less is more.
Use up what you already have. 
Don’t just buy to buy.
Take a moment to actually consider your purchases. 
Purge what is no longer needed. (This does not mean throw it in the garage or an already full closet.)
Time is a gift.

Hopefully one day, on the way from one ear to another, what I’m staying will get stuck there in the middle.

And speaking of gifts, here is one for one of you…..

Seattle’s Best Coffee Curiosity Pack

The kind people at Seattle’s Best Coffee have sent me a Curiosity Pack – 5 blends, 1 box – to give to one of you. I think the idea is quite ingenious. It’s a way to try out a variety of blends, without having to purchase large quantities, in order to determine which type of coffee you like best. Mild, light, crisp…to bold, dark, intense. Should you be interested in receiving this little gift, leave me your name and email address in a comment below by the end of the day Friday, January 14th. I will draw a name from a hat and email the lucky person.

And while you’re leaving comments….does anyone have any tips for organizing my nemesis….LEGOS!!

White Bean and Kale Soup Peppered with Pancetta

Since I was so busy with my organizing frenzy, no plans were made for dinner that evening. No inspiration was to be found. However, preaching my own mantras to myself, especially, “Use up what you already have.”, I went to the cupboard and discovered I still had the ingredients for a soup I had planned to make the week before but never did. My family loves this soup and it incorporates one of those nutrient filled winter greens…kale. I’m sure if you wanted a vegetarian version, you could omit the pancetta and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Wouldn’t be quite as richly flavored but would still be good, I’m sure. If you don’t have cannellini beans, you could substitute any other white bean that you like. Make sure you read through the recipe below before starting. Dried beans are added at a different time than canned beans.

Ingredients:

1 lb dried cannellini beans OR 3 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 large celery sticks, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
10 cups chicken stock
6 c loosely packed kale, chopped (I prefer lacinato kale.)
grated, parmesan cheese

Directions:
If using dried beans, rinse and pick over the dried beans, removing any possible pebbles. Put them in a heat-proof bowl. Cover beans with 8 cups of boiling water and let them soak for 1 hour. When they are finished, drain them in a colander. Meanwhile, start the rest of your soup.


In a large soup pot, heat your olive oil. Add pancetta and brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots and celery. Saute until soft about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. At this point you can remove from heat until your beans are ready.

Once dried beans have finished soaking, add them to the pot with your vegetables. Stir in the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, a few cracks of black pepper and your chicken broth.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. (30 minutes if you’re using canned beans.)  Test for seasoning. Adding a bit more salt and pepper or red pepper flakes if needed.

Add your kale to the pot and if using canned beans, add them at this point as well. Simmer another 30 minutes until beans are soft.

Ladle into soup bowls. Top with grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Yield: One big pot full.

Super Duper Pooper Scooper Goal:
Jan 3-9 – medicine cabinet/toiletries drawer – done.
Jan 10-16 – dreaded shelves in game/toy closet

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010

Comments

  1. Oh my. I wasn't aware that we shared the same OCDC tendencies my dear. A slow chill ran down my spine and warmed my belly with desire as I read this. There is just *nothing* more divine than an organized neat & tidy home. It is my constant battle to pick-up, put away, hang up and wipe down.
    I would love to join you *both hands raised* in your organizing adventure. For me, it will be the pantry…

  2. I think this time of year is common to clean out and organize. Don't fret!

    You didn't ask for it – but I will tell you something that works for me. A couple years ago I started keeping a paper grocery bag set up in the back of my closet. Every time I have something I no longer want (clothes, dish, ect) I put it in the bag. Last week I took 3 bags over to donate to our local thrift shop. It is a good feeling to take it out and let others make use of it!

  3. Kiri Anne says:

    I saved the Robieez bags the baby shoes came in – they zip shut. The legos now go in these, sorted by color, size, people, etc. Then those go in a lined basket. The instruction books go in another plastic holder that came with sheets or something. It's not the perfect solution, but it does help.
    My mom's solution was letting my brothr's lab 'clean' the floor if the legos weren't picked up. Amazing results! (and the dog was fine, really!)
    And like Kelly, I keep a 'Goodwill' bag both upstairs and downstairs. It really seems to help me. Granted Katie has started finding things she just-can't-live-without-despite-having-left-it-alone-for-six-months in them, which is a bit of an issue. Darn these kids and their brilliance!
    If you get stuck, go to the Container Store. An OCD person's heaven! You can find me in the closet section. ;)
    ~ kc.

  4. Ah, Wendy, the pantry. Definitely, always a battle of mine as well. I have it halfway organized. As part of my organizing adventure, I'll tackle the other half on one of these dedicated weeks.

    Kelly, Fabulous idea. I will definitely need to set-up the bag system. As a matter of fact, as soon as I'm done here, I'll be setting up a bag in my "clotheshorse" daughter's closet.

    Kirsten, I'm frothing with envy. I can't even imagine having the legos organized by color. I'm just trying to get them off the floor and have them somewhat sorted by size. Thank you for the tips though…too bad I don't have a lab with an iron stomach. Seems the easiest solution.

  5. Courtney Cook Hopp says:

    I too, do the bag in the closet and am amazed at how quickly they fill up.

    As for Legos, we went with a three, shallow drawer system (sm, med, lg), and we pick up the loose legos every night and have a shelf for the creations. A bit of a battle, but it keeps my sane.

    I hear you on the purge. If only I could keep Mom and Dad from bringing me my childhood relics. :-)

  6. okay, okay, you've convinced me. This list of purging and going through can not just live in my head. Must … actually … do … it! Thanks for saying it out loud for me. I'll begin with my upstairs desk area.
    Ready (not really) … set (no, wait) … GO!
    (this is your friend, Mara, who also must purge her password piles to find out what her google acct. password was when she came up with that brilliant, catchy, memorable, one-of-a-kind one that one time)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bravo my dear friend. Clutter-busting will free you!
    Julie

    Tip (I may have shared with you already?) that Mike and I do…pay each child $20 (at best it could only buy one new something that comes back IN the house) to fill a yard-size trash bag with anything they are done with…clothes, books, toys etc. The catch is that YOU can't be the one pulling stuff back out if you don't agree with their purge. The filling of the bag might also include the cardboard battle suits my youngest recently came home with from a playdate. It's worth the $40! (in your case $60) and they feel like they are in control of their stuff. Better than the tears I used to get when Spence would try to find that broken bioncle he'd actually meant to save until college that I'd secretly clutter-busted.

  8. Legos are the bane of our household tidiness, and we tried sorting them into different color/size/purpose boxes. What finally worked for us was much simpler: an enormous bin with a lid. Even the completed sets can fit inside, making all of us happy!

  9. SMITH BITES says:

    i am sooooo with you Carrie – the 'stuff' just gets piled higher and higher and every year we tell the parents, 'please don't buy any gifts – we don't NEED more stuff!' but it falls on deaf ears. and it's not that i'm being ungrateful, it's just like you said, there's no more room at the inn . . . or in this case quite a large house with only TWO people living in it. lord help whoever has to clean up this stuff when we're gone . . . i want to breathe again . . .

  10. Must be something in the air this week. Yesterday, I felt compelled to clean out the pantry and when I was through, decided that dinner would be made from what was on the shelves. No running to the store for supplies. I whipped up a delicious chili relleno casserole.

    Then, feeling accomplished, I went upstairs and removed 10 shirts from my son's closet that he no longer wears and put them in my bags I keep handy for Second Edition (the thrift store next to the library).

    I am joining the mission at hand here and next will be my children's toy cupboards. They don't even open them anymore now that they are teens. I have lots of clear boxes of Legos, puzzles, cars, trains, planes. The boxes are all labeled so no one needed to guess what went where. Perhaps I will have room for all my fabric and crafts now. Purging the unused is an excellent idea for 2011!

  11. Dinners and Dreams says:

    I bet pancetta tastes lovely with the beans. Lovely soup!

    Nisrine

  12. Anonymous says:

    Carrie…I feel your pain. The day after Christmas, we usually travel to CA to see my family. This year we didn't. Instead I dumped every toy bin we have in the house on the family room floor. I ended up with one large garbage bag of trash and three boxes of toys for Goodwill – the girls were distracted by their new things, so I could actually work! It was the BEST part of Christmas…:) Looking forward to your blog this year! Jennifer S.

  13. Carrie I feel just as you do at this time of year. For years everything in my home had its place but since my accident unfortunately I have not been able to stay on top of things. The disorganization drives me mad. Thankfully my sisters and nieces have volunteered to help and over the next few weekends we are going to start on the top floor of the house and work our way down, donate, purge and organize is my plan. I know a huge weight will be lifted from my shoulders when it is all done. When my children were younger I had shelves installed in their toy room and I would display their lego works of art. It was quite the display. It was the perfect way to keep the lego pieces organized. My husband also picked up a shelving system with acrylic boxes (see thru), each box contained a different colour and it was the kids responsibility to put the legos back to the box where it belonged. It looked great too!

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