Only a cup of buttermilk was used to make cupcakes, moist and tender. The gallon jug of buttermilk stood to the side of the fridge, unnoticed, wasting away. The expiry date was still a week away. I hated to see things go unused.
Perhaps the greatest sin of the modern world is wasting food. There are people on this planet who could make good use of what we discard. And so I pulled the buttermilk out and promised myself it would not go to waste.
Dinner one night that week became pancakes. Breakfast for dinner.
Into the bowl went cups of sour tangy buttermilk, mixing with the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt. I watched as the liquid did its magic, bubbling the dry ingredients into a frothy, light, air-filled mixture.
The griddle grew hot. I saw steam lifting off, the butter sizzling as it melted.
My metal quarter-cup dipped into the batter, poured in circular form onto the hot surface. Sounds told me when the liquid touched the heated metal, then the silence told me when it was time to flip.
And always, my final pancake is one giant circle, filling the pan, frying up until it fills an entire plate. Sort of a ritual to finish off, make good use of everything.
The big batch of reassuring pancakes was a dinner much appreciated in this house. Syrup sliding over top, butter melted into the soft cushion of the pancakes. My little guy melted chocolate chip onto his.
But me, what really reassured me, was the fact that I had made something from a random gathering of ingredients, purchased with the money I work so hard to earn, standing in my refrigerator awaiting use.
So often, I forget how much bounty sits in my cupboards and my shelves, waiting for me to notice, waiting for use. Every item we so lovingly and thoughtful decide to acquire, we instantly forget. One use, then done.
We are not creative enough every day to use well what we already have. And then, only when we have truly used everything in the many ways we figure out, only when we have satisfied the reason for purchase, only then can I feel truly complete.
I don’t love this disposable world. I don’t love the habit of discarding when bored. How many days in a row do you eat leftovers? After once, maybe twice in special circumstances, I no longer want that food.
What waste. Why, really? The luxury of choice. The gift of more. The bald ignorance of what is truly precious.
On an ordinary day, I made pancakes for dinner, and my family was thoroughly nourished. They were happy, content, bellies filled, taste buds enticed.
We cleaned the dishes, filled the dishwasher and pushed the button to wash. The leftovers were tucked between wax paper inside a plastic bag and set in the refrigerator for the morrow. To be eaten at dawn. To fulfill the dream of satisfaction. To finish their job.
Every single thing in this world has a purpose. I try hard to remember that. And I try hard to feel full with what I have.