Sunday, March 1, 2015

Making lemonade...sometimes easier said than done.

You’ve all heard that platitude “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  It sounds rather simple and rather practical, with the proviso that you actually have a need for lemonade.  Things get a little tougher if you don’t have sugar or water to mix with the lemon juice in order to concoct this saving grace that is “the lemonade.”  Of course, attempting to solve the problem of what to substitute for the other ingredients will serve to temporarily distract you from the original issue…what to do with all the lemons.

Finding ourselves with too many lemons happens far too often in our lives.  I remember one time when it was peanut butter.  We were young and struggling with two kids and little income.  A work friend of my husband’s offered him a box of government peanut butter, and he took it without question.  He proudly hauled the 50-pound box into the kitchen and announced that we wouldn’t have to buy peanut butter for a long, long time.  I was thrilled…until I opened the box to find that the entire 50 pounds of peanut butter was encased in one, single, heavy plastic bag.

My heart dropped.  There was no way that I could store a 50-pound bag of peanut butter in my tiny pantry cupboard.  There was no way that we would ever use that much peanut butter, once opened, before it turned rancid.  The thought of attempting to even scoop peanut butter out of such an awkward package, without having it on every conceivable kitchen surface, was daunting.
 
Brainstorming began in earnest.  How could I preserve the tasty goo?  It was a real prize, because my husband took PBJ sandwiches for lunch almost every day, and it was a “go to” lunch for the kids on Saturdays.  It would save us a lot of money if I could figure out how to keep it.  We had purchased a chest freezer before the arrival of kids, and it housed dozens of loaves of Wonder Bread that I would buy at a discount at the Hostess outlet in a town nearby.  I also used it for freezing veggies we grew in the garden each year and to buy things ahead if they were on sale.  I had never heard of anyone freezing peanut butter, but I decided that the risk was worth the try.

We scrounged every plastic container we could find and every quart freezer bag we had left in the drawer.  Jim lifted the bag of peanut butter out of the box and laid it on the counter.  I gathered all the containers within reach, then took a pair of scissors and snipped off the tip of one corner of the bag.  Together we filled the containers as though we were milking a cow, slowly squeezing the peanut butter through the opening to fill each container and holding the cut end closed when switching from one container to the next.
 
It took most of the evening to accomplish the task.  I put multiple containers in the refrigerator, hoping it would stay somewhat fresh, and we made a space in the chest freezer for the rest.  I’m happy to say that the idea worked like a charm.  We had peanut butter as needed for about 18 months.  For some unknown reason, that peanut butter made the best cookies we ever had.
 
Life is like that.  Sometimes you just have to brainstorm for an answer and try it, even if you have no idea whether or not it will work.  Then have faith that it will.  You might be surprised at the positive outcome.