Gaston & Catawba

Confessions of a hoarder

I hate to admit this, but since it's just the two of us, I'm going to go for it: I tend to be quite obsessive at times. Mostly, I hoard stuff.

For example, every week when I go to the grocery store, I purchase at least one bag of shredded cheese, so if you open my refrigerator you could find eight bags of shredded cheese, or even more.

I get nervous if I think I might run out of mayonnaise, and I can tell you that right this minute there are two unopened jars in my pantry and a full 32-ounce jar in the fridge.

To put this in perspective: With my daughter away at college, there are two people living in my house.

Unfortunately, this behavior has also spilled over into cooking magazines. When Martha Stewart came out with her preview issue of “Living” in 1990, I purchased a copy and subscribed right away. I also had subscriptions to “Gourmet,” “Bon Appetit,” “Eating Well” and “Cooking Light.”

I never threw away or recycled one single issue. I displayed them all, proudly, in our Michigan family room's bookcases. It got so bad that my sister-in-law staged a one-person intervention.

She came over, sat me down at the kitchen table and made me go through hundreds of those magazines and tear out the recipes I thought I wanted to try. But the Martha Stewart issues were off-limits, I told her.

By the time my husband accepted a job offer at the Observer late in 1999, I had accumulated nearly 10 years' worth of “Living.” He came down here ahead of my daughter and me, so the sorting and packing were left to me. I had no trouble throwing away tons of things I felt we could live without (most of them were his, as I recall), but not those magazines.

They probably weigh 800 pounds or something, but they're here, in my N.C. kitchen, along with myriad copies of other cooking magazines I managed to save.

I have no idea what is in any of them, and no way of knowing. So the recipe I'm going to share with you today isn't from “Living.” It's from a 2004 issue of “Bon Appetit” that I actually managed to go through, pull out what I wanted and put into the recycle bin.

I've been doing this for about four years now, and I have to say it makes much more sense. But I still have no real system for filing those recipes, and I really don't know what to do with them.

I just like hoarding them, kind of like shredded cheese.

This Key lime pie is the very best I have ever put in my mouth.

And everyone I have ever shared it with says the same thing. It's a little fussy, that's for sure, but I've been making it for years now and I can promise you that it's foolproof and worth every minute you spend creating it.

Years ago, I made my first Key lime pie and went through great pains to find and juice what seemed like 100 or so Key limes. Key limes are very expensive, and very small. I highly recommend you just buy yourself some plain old grocery store limes for this pie. And please, whatever you do, don't use that icky bottled stuff. In my opinion, it's just not done.

I feel so much better about myself since I stopped saving magazines, and I've canceled my subscriptions to all of them.

Well, almost all of them. I got a great offer a couple months ago to re-subscribe to “Living,” and I just couldn't help myself.