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Klatsch: a week without shopping


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Very interesting reading the comments after 1 week of cooking, and also very interesting for me to see how the type of storage you have affects your "pantry" menus.

My Japanese fridge capacity is about 279 liters (just under 10 cu. ft.) and the freezer is 96 liters (3.4 cu. ft.). I still manage to lose stuff in the freezer...but most of my stores are dried foods. The pressure cooker is my friend!

I do this quite often, but usually prepare" my kitchen by stocking up on green vegetables that I know will keep well. If I join in from today with no preparation, my only garden produce at this time of year is some New Zealand spinach/warrigal greens/tsuru-na, and maybe some wild mugwort or garlic shoots. I'll start growing some carrot and turnip tops, and put the scallion roots in a pot...

I don't know how other pantry shoppers operate, but I usually have certain things that are always in stock, and at the end of each month I check oil and condiments and replenish stocks.

My challenges this week will be:

Dealing with stocks of noodles and other non-wheat foods bought for a gluten-intolerant guest.

Using up "rare" foods so that I can re-stock with easy to use foods that my elder son can cook for himself and my husband while I'm out of Japan for a fortnight.

Caveats:

I can't keep a week's supply of milk in my fridge, and we use 3-4 liters a week to make yogurt. I think my kids are old enough to go without milk to drink if need be though.

May need to buy food for sons' projects - son2 wants to make white chocolate truffles or Maids of Honor cheesecake tarts as White Day gifts (Mar 14 is when boys return gifts to the girls who gave them Valentines a month back!). Have the makings of cheesecake, but not truffles.

Son1's cooking practice enters the Intensive Phase for the next fortnight - may need to buy supplies for him to learn specific dishes!

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Last night was leftover venison shank ragu over pasta, along with the lst of the salad greens. Tonight, I pulled the last of the tuna steaks (think Costco) out of the freezer. A brief marinade in lime, garlic, EVOO, and cilantro, alongside stirfried broccoli.

Peter and my mom, on the way home from the Science Museum, stopped at the Asian market, and for about $2.50, I now have a huge bunch of beautiful cilantro, a bunch of broccoli, 3 heads of garlic, 6 shallots, 3 limes and a pineapple. I will have to get out to get milk and eggs this week, and some salad greens, but I should come in under 10% of our normal weekly budget for this week.

Time to pull some venison out and use it up, along with some canned tomatoes and beans and spices for chili. I also have the fixings for cornbread.

Now that the kids are home, for breakfast, they are eating oatmeal or toast for breakfast, and I have fruit (old, but still good).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Now here's something interesting:

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What is "reduced charoset juice," you ask? Charoset is one of the traditional foods on the Passover seder plate. In most Jewish-American households it tends to be a mixture of apples and nuts, symbolizing the mortar the slaves in Egypt used in construction, but we prefer a Middle Eastern recipe that's more like a dried-fruit compote with nuts. Anyway, when cooking this item, there's an incredible fruit syrup that gets created in the process, which last year we reduced and froze. I have no idea what to do with it, but there it is.

This is something that apparently is to be made into French toast. Presumably, a bread product.

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FG, make the french toast, but instead of maple syrup, used the charoset juice, perhaps diluted with a bit of that red wine, and call it dessert. Yum!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Something that I found in my freezer was a bag of "flaked oats" that was a gift from my CSA. I hate cooked oatmeal as a breakfast cereal, which is the only thing this package has directions for. Can I just use these in oatmeal cookies or something? A topping for a fruit crisp?

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Something that I found in my freezer was a bag of "flaked oats" that was a gift from my CSA. I hate cooked oatmeal as a breakfast cereal, which is the only thing this package has directions for. Can I just use these in oatmeal cookies or something? A topping for a fruit crisp?

You can use them but may have to add a bit more liquid as they are like a sponge. Compare the cooking directions with the directions for old-fashioned rolled oats and if more liquid is required, add the equivalent.

I think you can find recipes online for flaked oats - I have found recipes for flaked barley and wheat.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Okay today was street market day so I picked up a roast (for hubby's carnivore meals) and about 3 pounds of pork (for meals later this weekend). I also bought a pint of blood for $1, yes, you read that right, beef BLOOD for making Diniguan (Filipino blood stew). I have various cooked offal frozen and when I came home from the market, I defrosted the meats and cooked them for Diniguan. I ate a huge portion and have about 4 serving portions left. Those would be a couple of my lunches this week and next.

For breakfast today, I used up the last of the fresh milk to make biscuits. I made baking soda biscuits with the flour in my freezer (do you guys keep your flour in the freezer like we do? It's something I've adopted from my hubby who would do that to keep the bugs out of the flour). For brekkies, hubby and I had biscuits with scrambled eggs, bacon (for me) and sausage (for him).

Tomorrow, I plan to make cauliflower soup with the frozen cauliflower in the freezer. I'm beginning to see spaces in my fridge. Hubby was just appraised last night of this week without shopping challenge. He gives it a big thumbs up.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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One of the little side projects this week has been using up containers of interesting stuff throughout the house. Case in point: I'm at the end of a beloved bottle of Fernet Branca, and thought a cocktail of mine using it would go well with the leftover turkey parm and the side I was planning to make:

Corsa Italia Cocktail:

2 oz rye

1/2 oz Benedictine

1/4 oz Fernet Branca

dash orange bitters

Stir, strain, flamed orange twist.

Instead of the orange twist, I went with the last three brandy-soaked cherries I had in the fridge, which gave it more depth and a sweet treat during prep (if less nose):

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The other items that were lurking in the back of one place or another were these pine nuts from the freezer --

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-- and this jar I found on its side in the back of the fridge, which contains some onion confit, roasted garlic, and balsamic glaze:

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I had some broccoli crowns that were approaching the end of the edible portion of their life, so...

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Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Something that I found in my freezer was a bag of "flaked oats" that was a gift from my CSA. I hate cooked oatmeal as a breakfast cereal, which is the only thing this package has directions for. Can I just use these in oatmeal cookies or something? A topping for a fruit crisp?

Thanks to doctor's orders, I have become quite an expert on the uses of oats. If you like the toothy quality, oats make a great component of smoothies. Our house concoction of choice also involves another classic "week without shopping" item, the overripe banana, combined with the oats, some milk, an ice cube or two, and a T of peanut butter.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chili and cornbread tonight. I like my cornbread nekked (no honey need apply thank you very much), but the rest of the family is of a very different opinion. I have a nice bottle (plastic) of some organic, local fall honey, and the bottom half has congealed/crystalized on me. How to resurrect?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Chili and cornbread tonight.  I like my cornbread nekked (no honey need apply thank you very much), but the rest of the family is of a very different opinion.  I have a nice bottle (plastic) of some organic, local fall honey, and the bottom half has congealed/crystalized on me.  How to resurrect?

just put the bottle in a bowl of hot water (replenish with hot water if necessary when the water cools before the honey is liquid again).

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I usually put it in a bowl and run it under the hottest possible tap water for a few minutes. Probably a big waste of energy but it gets the job done quickly.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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How would wheat berries do if you cooked them like kasha?

I found Kasha in the "tub/pantry" in the cellar. I need to try this. Are there any seasonings or additions that go especially well with kasha? Or do you just plate it under some juicy meat?

Well, the "classic" way to serve kasha is with pot roast -- a lovely brisket with all that yummy gravy. But another way is called Kasha Varnishkas -- the little bow tie pasta -- Goodman's is the brand I use. You make the kasha and cook the bow tie pasta separately and then combine them in about the proportion of 2 cups kasha to 1 cup pasta. While the grains and pasta are still hot, stir in some butter and season with salt to taste. Anybody from a Jewish-kosher background wouldn't add the butter if the dish were to be served with meats, of course, but often kasha varnishkas is served as a meal in itself. If necessary you can make this in advance and cover it tightly to reheat it in the oven.

Another use for kasha is as a filling for knishes -- but that is a whole other thing!

Also, I might add that most of the time when I make kasha I don't use the whole grain. I use a coarse grain. The fine is good for making porridge -- which I think tastes great, but I don't usually bother with because I prefer the texture of the kasha when it is made from the coarser cut. When making the kasha either whole or coarse grain make sure you don't add so much liquid that it gets gummy. Toasting it helps that too as well as developing the grains naturally nutty flavor.

Another thing -- it is a very healthy grain. Lots of good nutrients.

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I usually put it in a bowl and run it under the hottest possible tap water for a few minutes. Probably a big waste of energy but it gets the job done quickly.

You can also put it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time. I don't do it this way if it is in a plastic bottle, but in a glass jar it works fine. Just make sure the lid is off -- natch -- and do it bit by bit so it doesn't boil over. I would think that this takes less energy than using bowls and bowls of hot water.

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Chili and corn bread (seems to be a lot of that going around) for DH, along with some tiny "mantu"? Turkish dry pasta dumplings. Orange sugar free Jello with a can of mandarin oranges and some yogurt mixed in. I got carried away with buying Jello during the great "rainbow Jello" thread.

I had a wonderful dish from the freezer......Paula Wolfort's Beef and Apricot Tajine. One of the best dishes I have ever eaten. It tastes just like the dish we had in Morocco. The apricots are so sweet and juicy, the beef is very tender. I used big raisins instead of prunes.....it's SO good.

Entering 3rd week, I'll only need a few things....milk, citrus, green onions, a veg or two. I think when all the eatable stuff is used I will still have numerous jars of salsas and other condiments. That is one of my biggest weaknesses.

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Last night I had a huge dinner out at a beef-industry function. I could probably go the rest of the week without eating. I probably should. But tonight PJ and I made pizza.

The dough from the freezer, defrosted overnight in the fridge.

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Normally I use Pomi tomato puree but I've had part of a jar of Fairway pasta sauce, opened on a day when I was feeling lazy, in the back of the refrigerator forever. After ascertaining that it contained no mold, I decided to use it. The mozzarella was, as I mentioned above, the week's big splurge at the store. I still have enough left to do another pizza-making session if I feel like it later in the week. I've still got enough Parmesan to get by for a while.

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To minimize mess and make the whole process more kid-friendly we do all the production within the four corners of a half-sheet pan. First cornmeal on the surface.

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Then several sessions of stretching the dough, with rests in between, so it's easy. Time elapsed was maybe 20 minutes start to finish, about 2 of which were active time.

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When you do this with a three-year-old you don't necessarily get the most even coverage of sauce and cheese, but I've found there's a lot of leeway in the process.

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Our oven goes up to 500 degrees F and has a convection setting. I let it preheat for about half an hour so it's pretty hot in there. Tonight it took 11 minutes to achieve the level of doneness I favor.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I usually put it in a bowl and run it under the hottest possible tap water for a few minutes. Probably a big waste of energy but it gets the job done quickly.

You can also put it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time. I don't do it this way if it is in a plastic bottle, but in a glass jar it works fine. Just make sure the lid is off -- natch -- and do it bit by bit so it doesn't boil over. I would think that this takes less energy than using bowls and bowls of hot water.

Happy medium I use is to heat the water in the glass measuring cup for 30 seconds and then set the plastic squeeze bottle in the cup. No muss, no fuss, and I tell myself there is little plastic leaching of chemicals plus it gives you a little more control than direct in the nuker.

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Reporting in on the first two days of my second week. Dinner last night was breakfast foods: oatmeal-buttermilk pancakes (really delicious, very kid friendly, and pretty healthy as well), the bacon leftover from making clam chowder, fried eggs with soy sauce and chives (usually scallions, but I was out), and fresh fruit. That used up the last of my eggs (2 for the pancake batter, 2 fried).

For lunch today I made fried rice with some rice I had stashed in the freezer. I've never actually tried to freeze rice before so I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it is certainly perfectly fine to use in this way. I was missing the two ingredients that I always put in there, eggs and scallions, but it was fine. I used up the rest of the chives (looking pretty sad at this point), 2 chile peppers, a mess of chopped garlic (I had never added garlic, though I know a lot of people do), a random asian seasoning packet from the pantry, and some dried shrimp. It was different, but still pretty tasty. I think it's pretty hard to screw up rice + oil + salty goodness + stir-fried flavor.

I then spent a portion of my allowance on ginger, scallions, cilantro, and cauliflower. I never thought of myself as really dependent on fresh herbs because I tend not to buy the expensive plastic cartons, but then I realized that I was feeling pretty deprived without ginger, scallions, and cilantro. Somehow, because they don't come in overpriced plastic containers I don't lump them in with herbs.

Anyway, dinner was rajma (indian red kidney bean curry made with onions, garlic, ginger, canned tomatoes, my 2 remaining chile peppers, cilantro, and a bunch of spices), rice, and roasted cauliflower with garlic and capers (the last of them, alas) added during the last few minutes. It was all surprisingly successful. I say surprising because my husband normally balks when beans are the only protein source at dinner, but these were really delicious. He also tends not to like cauliflower, even when roasted, but the addition of capers and garlic remedied that. It was also extremely well liked by my 3 year old.

In other exciting news (for me, anyway) my pantry and freezer is starting to look kind of bare! There are actually entirely empty shelves in the pantry now, plenty of space to maneuver in the freezer, and an empty freezer door rack! The few remaining items in the produce drawer actually rattle around in there, they have so much space! Obviously I need to get a life, but just a couple of weeks ago I was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to use up all this stuff before we move in May, but now it seems very doable. Maybe even more surprising is that despite all the space, there is still quite a bit of food in there. I don't anticipate any problems finishing out this week and could probably eek out another week, though our diet would have to become increasingly grain-based.

And finally, a question: what can I do with nutritional yeast? I bought some for a recipe I was making for a vegan friend and whole foods only sold it in coffee can sized containers. (I later found out I could have bought a tiny bit at the bulk foods store. Alas.) Anyway, I have no clue what to do with this stuff and I have a lot.

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I've been silently participating but not updated my progress. My initial post I set out to work down the pantry first, and then progress on the freezer. Alas, didn't quite go as planned. Initially I reported eating leftovers and not having to cook anything new yet, and that's sorta still the case, as I'd just made a fair amount of food when the challenge started. So, here's how I've been getting along: for snacking, I had some homemade hummus, tho I quickly ran out of pita, I did use up the last of the 2 sided pretzel-cracker combo thingamajigs I'd picked up over the holidays. I had made some carnitas with guajillo for tacos, and have enjoyed that several times, with a couple more servings to go . . . I heat up the tortillas, smear in a bit of the refried beans (only 2T left), a generous slice of avocado, and the carnitas meat - finger licking good! Am so grateful that my last food purchase before the challenge was 4 avocados, as that makes these tacos sublime. My biggest worry is that tortillas are almost gone, and I rely on those heavily, so when I do spend some of the new allowance $, top of list will be tortillas. And of course the black beans are nearly gone, will have to wait till next wk for more, as I make mine the old-fashioned way, with whats left in the bean pot @ the end of the week, so time to put on a new pot of beans, but the refried ones will be as the pot is almost used up.

In spite of declaring to use my pantry first, I pulled out a few things to defrost from the freezer for this week. Tonight was a bit of a surprise . . . I thought I was defrosting a portion of pot roast, but alas, discovered it was Moroccan lamb stew . . .delish. I am usually really good about labeling stuff as it goes into the freezer, I guess when there was just the one portion, I thought I'd know what it was for sure. Anyway, it was the most recent item added to the freezer.. . first in first out is not my usual protocol! Also defrosted and then heated in toaster oven were turket croquettes I'd made with a 2nd turkey I got @ T'giving for 79c/lb. I love these croquettes, but hadn't had any of them yet. Usually I have them with cranberry mustard, but am out of that kind of mustard right now, and not going out for anything, but most of all condiments!!! So last night I had the croquettes (turkey & sweet potato). Both last night and tonight I would have liked a green salad, but at least I had good veg in the meal. Also defrosted was a pastry crust and a box of frozen spinach, plan to make a quiche w/ those ingredients, jarred red bell pepper, and feta.

Breakfasts have been good so far, mainly alternating between cream of wheat (w/maple syrup) or oatmeal (w/blueberries in freezer from farmer's market). Have eliminated toast from a.m. options to help the bread last longer. While I still had a few english muffins, i enjoyed those w/p.b. and maruka honey a couple of mornings, accompanied by a grapefruit. And I still have a couple of greek yogurts, which I like w/cereal (instead of milk, I add yogurt to my cold ceral). I had eggs one of the first mornings, and may do that again tomorrow while I still have some tortillas around.

My obstacle in all of this was that I unexpectedly went out of town for 3 days. The food I'd carefully been saving and stretching suddenly not all able to be used. I had to pitch the bean sprouts, broccoli, and red bell pepper I'd intended to use with some frozen shrimp for a stir fry with soba noodles. And the 1/2 c milk remaining went bad, as I didn't have the presence of mind to freeze it before I left home. Live & learn. But losing precious produce was devastating. On the flip side, I was gifted 4 gorgeous grapefruit from a friend. They have relatives in Florida who sent a gift box of oranges and grapefruit, my friend takes Lipitor, which clearly states no grapefruit, so I benefitted . . . and, oh, how I'm enjoying those. My fruit supply is still good, as I have 1 bosc pear, some kinda shrivelly clemetines, 2 oranges, and the grapefruit, not to mention loads of frozen berries from this summer's farmer's market . . . this may all sound good, but I really want a banana :wink:

So, for now I have the carnitas to finish (I froze the meat when I went out of town, and then pulled it back out when I got home), and all ready to make the quiche. My fridge is rapidly emptying of food stuffs (still plenty of eggs), but the condiments appear to multiply. Am not going to open any mustard from pantry until I use up several that are already open.

I am still steadfast to go at least another week, and will double my intent to work on that pantry. working on adding pix too

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finally got this over stocked pantry shots up for you to see I am not kidding when I say ridiculously overstocked for a 1 person household. I won't try to explain how this came to be, but will acknowledge that several others have commented on their own well stocked provisions cupboards, and I'm grateful to be in such good company!

(next on my learning curve, I'll learn how to properly rotate the images)

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Edited by Lauriux (log)
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Results so far:

Sunday- Turkey Vindaloo

Monday- Chicken Piccata over whole wheat couscous

Tuesday- Mignons de Porc a L'ail

Wednesday- Red Beans and Rice (OK- I had to fudge a bit, lacking sufficient quantities of savoury sausages, I snuck some apple breakfast sausages in- no-one noticed)

(and, yes, I do realize that I broke with tradition by serving read beans and rice on Wednesday instead of Monday- obviously I didn't think this through all that well)

Tonight's meal was a pure improv- I took the buffalo burgers that I'd found in the back of the freezer and used them to make a very basic bolognese-esque sauce, reducing it until it was thick enough to pass for an entree.

and had two side-dishes-

Mashed garnet yams baked with a crust of crushed praline

Edamame and french-cut green beans sauteed in sesame oil

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Dinner tonight was an asian-esque chicken noodle soup. I used up all the chicken backs and pork bones from the freezer (almost 4 lbs worth) and threw in some ginger and scallions toward the end of the simmering time. Once strained and defatted, I threw into the simmering broth: one limp daikon radish (perfectly tasty once cooked), the rest of an open package of yu noodles, the last remaining chicken breast from the freezer, leftover chicken meat from the lemon oregano chicken I made last week (from the freezer, I rinsed it off before using), and fresh cilantro at the end. Tasty and healthy.

We ran out of cereal a few days ago and have been eating oatmeal instead. I didn't think this would be a problem, but my daughter was sincerely sad about that this morning. Who knew she was so attached to Kashi Heart to Heart?

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Ok last night's dinner was the last of the chicken noodle soup that hubby ate for dinner. Son had a can of tuna with rice while I noshed on some sushi that a friend dropped by as a gift.

This morning, hubby went out and bought 2 lbs of ground pork to make breakfast sausage (the last patty in the fridge was consumed yesterday). He made some patties and that was our breakfast today. Lunch was a package of ham (made into a sandwich by hubby). I ate half a container of the scad I simmered in coconut milk last Monday.

I found another package of pork belly hidden in the depths of the freezer and made a Chinese-Filipino dish called Pata Tim. Right now, the hunk of pork is simmering with black bean sauce, garlic, star anise, onion, vinegar in a wok. That would be a least a couple of meals for us.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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I think I need to do this for another week.

Coming up on the end of this week, I think the net result of my $18.25 in grocery expenditures is that I have more product on hand than I did at the end of the first week. We ate a lot of food this week that didn't affect our inventory: the Sunday dim-sum event, the Tuesday meat-industry dinner, breakfast and lunch at a conference yesterday, our son getting fed by my mother on two occasions. And we won't use much of what's left before the week is up. Tonight we have a school event that will include food. Tomorrow we have both lunch and dinner at friends' houses (two different friends).

Anyway . . . last night we made pizza for a second time, from the remaining ingredients.

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Also, Ellen baked blondies.

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I guess neither of those dishes would have been possible without the topping off of ingredients we did on Sunday. Still, it feels like there's an awful long way to go before we accomplish a true spring cleaning of the refrigerator, freezer and pantry here. Breakfast and lunch today will be the last opportunities to consume this week's foodstuffs, but those will be insubstantial meals.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I found this at the wrong time - just as we were recovering from a two week bout of Virus bleck. But I really appreciate this thread as it's reminding me to take a harder look at what I have. Yesterday instead of using frozen spinach in some pasta as I'd planned, I threw in leftover green beans and it turned out great. Now I don't have dead green beans and do have frozen spinach!

Last year I was fortunate enough to spend two stints each of several weeks in a company apartment overseas. At the end of each stint I would be trying to use up all the fresh food, and the apartment had a very limited pantry. (Limited as in there was pepper but I had to buy salt.) I found I really enjoyed the creativity of putting together dishes with what I had on hand. Since I had only myself to please I didn't have to worry about an audience, but I left Norway a much more confident cook as a result. I hope others are finding this to be true as well!

Nadya (I think this is my first eGullet post!)

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Welcome, Nadya!

I started the evening off with another frugal cocktail. I had an orange that was missing about a third of its peel, and usually I'd toss any slightly old citrus because the oils don't release onto cocktails fully. However, after peeling it for my daughter, I realized that simply using a few of the wizened twists would do the trick:

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That's a Hoskins Cocktail from Chuck Taggart (aka sazerac round these parts), a fine drink that certainly benefits from an excess of orange oil floating atop the surface and rubbed along the rim.

Dinner, though tasty, was much less exciting: the last of some dal, the last of the red-cooked chicken, mushrooms, and tofu sticks, the last of the cucumber sliced and in a raita (getting the idea?):

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The chana dal topped with raita and some store-bought mint chutney hit the spot:

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Nadya, I agree with you: there's a certain fun in playing with the ingredients on hand and seeing what you can make. I also have found that this stretch has made me appreciate those little jars of stuff I usually toss.

What other new perspectives or habits have people noticed?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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