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Klatsch: a week without shopping


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Just the one week made some changes in my cooking -- I'm much less likely to throw anything away. Not that I waste a lot of food, but it always seems like I have the last little bit of lettuce or cabbage go slimy before I get to it, or I find some cooked rice growing mold in the back of the fridge.

Last week, for instance, I had half a cucumber that was in pretty bad shape, but I managed to cut the bad spots off and had enough to make a drink that calls for cucumber and basil -- and I used up more of the basil too. Before this, I probably would have thrown both away.

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3 Weeks and Counting. A bit of progress has been made. I peeled a pie off a shelf in the freezer....discovered it was raspberry. made.....a while ago....by a raspberry growing friend. It is in the oven as I speak.

BUT.....I have to admit that when I went to the supermarket to "top up".....I sort of fell off the wagon. They had pork butts for $.79, and they looked nice. SO, one for me, and one for son with a smoker. Mine is cooking into carnitas to replace the ones I ate, and the blade part is roasting. So a couple of steps backwards on that.

Other groceries were bananas, clementines (going back....they are dried out), milk, and some lovely green grapes for $1.29 a pound.

Several items have been used, the roasted cauliflower was finished with the last of the sour cream dip. A can of tortilla soup was DH's first course. The beef and apricots is gone. Now I can use a new jar of condiment on the roasted pork.

I found a package of green herbal stuff called Greek Salad Dressing Mix so will give that a try.

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Chris, that cocktail is lookng mighty fine right now!

Biggest change I've noticed in this challenge is that I am now forced to plan meals for the week, something that seemed to be a very old fashioned skill, tho suddenly becoming more vogue again. I grew up in a household where my mother planned meals in advance, and I leanred how to do this in girl scouts and home ec classes, but never really put it in practice in my own home (I plan special event meals, not daily grind meals). Planning makes it so much easier to have the right things prepared when I come home starving and with no patience, but its also easier as I'm not spending a dime eating out, so know exactly how many nites a wk I'll be home (all). Am now willing to make some nice dishes as I know they'll get eaten and not tossed out.

Here's how I fared yesterday:

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the tomato, onion, and serrano chile lightly sauteing in oil for the huevos a la mexicana

and the tortillas warming on the comal

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and the veryy yummy - and steaming hot - breakfast, using up the last of the refried beans

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and dinner was the last of the tortillas, with avocado slices and the reheated carnitas w/guajillo. . . normally I would have added some red onion or even pickled onion, but am out of my pickled onions and want to save my one last red onion for later in the wk!

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today was oatmeal, and have nearly finished the 07 frozen blueberries, chips and salsa for a snack, and then dinner was quiche with red peppers, spinach, and feta. and 3 hershey kisses (left over valentine's day candy)

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so, am now staring down a large bottle of Chipotle Raspberry marinade, more than half full - looks like a Costco size bottle, tho don't remember. any thoughts beyond putting chicken or pork in a ziplock and dumping some of this in?

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Edited by Lauriux (log)
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I also want to ask eGulleteers about my unopened bottle of Catalina dressing (it was a gift from a friend who went back to the US). Is there any way to use this up aside from a salad dressing?

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 also want to ask eGulleteers about my unopened bottle of Catalina dressing (it was a gift from a friend who went back to the US). Is there any way to use this up aside from a salad dressing?

Works fine as a marinade.

As a teenager I loved it drizzled on grated old cheddar.

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I also want to ask eGulleteers about my unopened bottle of Catalina dressing (it was a gift from a friend who went back to the US). Is there any way to use this up aside from a salad dressing?

My aunt and her family used to love it as a sauce for roast chicken.

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re: Catalina.

My MIL( take that with a grain of salt) made a dish of chicken pieces, rice, cranberry sauce, onion soup mix and catalina dressing. I thought it was very salty, but passable taste wise. Its not something I'd go out of my way to make though.

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What other new perspectives or habits have people noticed?

I've realized that I can maintain my standard of quality of cooking while using only what's on hand.

and that I should strive to keep in mind that I do tend to have a lot of ingredients on hand that I should make the most of. I'll try to remember what I have on hand that's not earmarked for a meal and see if I can incorporate it in to what I have on the menu for the week (yes, I do plan a weekly menu before I go grocery shopping- I also keep a pantry, household-products and staples inventory that I check while making the shopping list- I'm a geek, I admit it). I do tend to forget what I have laying around until said items have passed their prime, and I need to correct that situation.

This has been loads of fun. I have doubts that I can continue it for another week (well, maybe I can, I still haven't managed to get the barn door open so the chest freezer remains untapped- but I don't know how much more I have in there right now except for some frozen veggies and a full-sized frozen turkey that I'm not willing to use without at least five or six more people on-hand as I don't like the idea of eating turkey every day for the next week)

Right now, my freezer is decimated (not a bad thing, considering how much I had in there that I wasn't using) and my fridge has little more than condiments, picked items, cheese and drinks in it.

Sincerely,

Dane

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Chris, that cocktail is lookng mighty fine right now!

Thanks -- it was mighty fine. I urge you to procure all ingredients needed when you're shopping again!

I agree completely about doing more planning. I just moved a bunch of items from the upstairs freezer down to the basement one, and saw so many things that could be a weekday evening meal if only I pulled them out a day or two in advance. I did that for one thing for Sunday; we'll see if it actually makes it on the table. I also found four ingredients that I'll be using for tonight's dinner.

so, am now staring down a large bottle of Chipotle Raspberry marinade, more than half full - looks like a Costco size bottle, tho don't remember.  any thoughts beyond putting chicken or pork in a ziplock and dumping some of this in?

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I'd move it to a smaller container and save it for summer and grilling. Glad others are weighing in on the Catalina -- I was stumped.

ET respond to Dante's comment here --

Right now, my freezer is decimated (not a bad thing, considering how much I had in there that I wasn't using)....

-- which made me realize that my freezer has more stuff in it, by volume if not by variety. The turkey, chicken, onion, carrot, and celery trimmings produced a lot of stock. My new frugality is paying off in that regard, too.

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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ET respond to Dante's comment here --

-- which made me realize that my freezer has more stuff in it, by volume if not by variety. The turkey, chicken, onion, carrot, and celery trimmings produced a lot of stock. My new frugality is paying off in that regard, to

I tend to throw potential stock-makings (limp carrots, celery bits, cheese rinds, leek greens, poultry bones) in to the freezer and wait for them to reach critical mass and then make stock with them. I've plans to do that with what I have in there right now.

Now, one things that I can't seem to do is get people to eat the ice cream that's taking up the entire door of the freezer (I swear we've got to have at least a dozen pints!). You'd think that that of all things wouldn't pose much of a challenge. I think that when my wife and I have our Waif over for dinner after she's recovered from the flu, we'll have to feed her ice cream for dessert (she's a fanatic about the stuff- she could help us out).

Sincerely,

Dante

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Catalina dressing is a stand-by helper for pork too.

Years ago Kraft held a contest for the varied uses of the dressing and one favorite was this:

Catalina ribs.

It can be "spiked" with hot sauce for a spicier offering.

It doesn't have to be cooked in a slow cooker - it works just fine in a heavy covered pot in the oven.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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so, am now staring down a large bottle of Chipotle Raspberry marinade, more than half full - looks like a Costco size bottle, tho don't remember.  any thoughts beyond putting chicken or pork in a ziplock and dumping some of this in?

I've been pondering a very similar question. I currently have a huge bottle of raspberry dressing (not exactly the same, but probably close enough) in my fridge, and after asking Google it seems like two popular uses for it are: 1) pour some over a block of cream cheese and use as a dip for crackers; 2) use it in a vinaigrette, especially in a salad that has fruit and nuts in it.

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One thing that I have realized from this exercise is that I usually spend a lot of time grocery shopping! Now, I really enjoy it so it's not a bad thing, but I felt like I had a lot more free time this week. As a result, we had time to cull through some stuff that we've been meaning to cast a critical eye on before our move. I feel less weighted down by stuff, both in the kitchen and out.

Surprisingly, doing this exercise has made me more willing to throw stuff out if I'm really not going to use it. Going into this, I threw almost no food out, ever (I think I posted elsewhere about the extensive inventory of my fridge and pantry - since nothing ever got shoved in and forgotten we had very little waste). After a week of mulling over ideas for stuff in my pantry, I realized there were certain things I just didn't want to use, and since I felt I had really given it some good thought I didn't feel bad throwing it out. It was only about 3 things though, but it was still satisfying to finally get rid of them.

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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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That pizza looks delicious-and another great idea for a week without shopping that I'm adding to my list for the next time I take up the challenge.

Two questions-What type of flour did you use in your pizza dough? I typically use regular all-purpose four, but I'm wondering if something else would work better-especially for doughs that are made, frozen and then thawed. Looking at your results I can see that your dough held in the freezer quite well.

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I hate to be a disappointment but that dough was frozen dough I bought at the store. I usually keep some of it on hand for when I'm too lazy to make dough. When I do make dough, I use all-purpose flour and Fleischmann's yeast and I've never had a problem freezing it. I don't have the space or patience to keep multiple kinds of flour around, so I do everything -- bread, cookies, cakes -- with all-purpose flour. I guess that's why they call it all-purpose flour.

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 hate to be a disappointment but that dough was frozen dough I bought at the store. I usually keep some of it on hand for when I'm too lazy to make dough. When I do make dough, I use all-purpose flour and  Fleischmann's yeast and I've never had a problem freezing it. I don't have the space or patience to keep multiple kinds of flour around, so I do everything -- bread, cookies, cakes -- with all-purpose flour. I guess that's why they call it all-purpose flour.

I've found 1 white and 3 whole wheat Rhodes frozen dough loaves in the deep-freeze. I love these ideas.

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I've found 1 white and 3 whole wheat Rhodes frozen dough loaves in the deep-freeze.  I love these ideas.

I don't expect to find any of those, but when the kids were young they were a staple. Thaw, slap it out, top with ham and cheese or some such, roll up, bake. The kids made their own and marked them and took them for school lunch. I thought I invented stuffed bread untill I found the Italian deli.

Another use for the dough is the "monkey bread". Melt butter, make little balls of dough, roll in butter, then in cinnamon sugar, place in greased pan, let rise, bake, pull apart. Nuts, raisins etc. optional.

I worked some on freezer in refrigerator and found 5 pototo pierogis. Boiled them, then sauteed onion, sauteed pierogis and topped with a dab of sour cream. We used to eat a lot of those too when kids were home. Filling, and everyone liked them. I love any kind of dough stuffed.

Along with those there was the roasted pork, and peas. I thought I was out of frozen veggies but found a bag of corn and one of peas.

I did toss a couple of partial jars of salsa from fridge, condiments are a problem here.

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We took another impromptu mini-vacation: an overnight stay at a water park, so I'll just add another day to my "week" of pantry meals. Dinner tonight was just leftover asian-esque chicken noodle soup from 2 days ago, plus some steamed buns from the freezer, and a cut-up cantaloupe.

I got kind of tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast so I made a sweet mung bean soup. I bought a package of mung beans a looong time ago (maybe a couple of years, I might have even moved these from our last apartment), probably out of childhood nostalgia. But I am reminded that I really like this stuff. If I didn't have a moratorium on grocery shopping I would be stocking up on more right now. =)

Slowly but surely...

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I did not participate in the challenge but I have definitely taken the concept to heart. It has been an interesting two weeks. I thought I had the freezer and fridge under control but I realize that I engage not just in impulse & craving based shopping, but also in fear based shopping. Why do I have to buy something I am low on before it is gone? I live across the street from a major chain market that has much of what I need, the farmers market once a week is also across the street, and even the ethnic markets are within 20 minutes or less!

For example, why would I be obsessing about the Kung Pao chicken around the corner when I have all the fixings in my house and why would a craving for California rolls hit me and almost send me out to get them when I have enough ingredients to get a decent version going? I have had a lot of talks with myself this week and have enjoyed the challenge of creating something exceptional with what is on hand. I also tried to convince myself I needed to go out and purchase greens, but I have a ton of dandelions (no pesticides) all over the yard and masses of tiny swiss chard coming up in odd spots where the wind blew the seeds from the ones I let mature. My soups have been great and it feels good. I am currently looking at the can of hominy that is at least 7 years old, the bag of pasilla chilis, and the meat scraps in the freezer....

I hope to hear more from those continuing the challenge and those inspired by the concept.

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My challenge ended after three weeks when I went shopping on Saturday. Although I live in the center of a small (pop. 75,000) city with plenty of grocery stores, good and bad, within a 10-20 minute drive, I tend to do one big shopping trip a week. I also live one mile from my work, with only the "crappy acme" between us.

As per usual, I brainstormed several dishes to make for the up coming week (or two, or three) and made a shopping list based on those needs. Then I went out to the local "farmer's market" (really more of an independant ethnic grocery store / flea market that has been growing rapidly and gaining in business and quality in the two+ years I have lived here) to get my produce. I usually get out of there with two good-sized bags of various produce for under $25. I must have went a little crazy from the lack of shopping for three weeks because I ended up with three recyclable grocery bags filled with produce, and a few canned goods, for $49!! I started working on the excess produce by offering to bring a side dish to a dinner party I went to on Saturday night.

Next was a trip to a local large supermarket chain to get stuff like canned tomatoes, ice cream, cereal, milk, etc. Foodstuffs from there added up to another $30!!

My weakness is that I want to make so many things, and come up with so many ideas, that I want to buy all of the ingredients at once, instead of buying stuff for one or two dishes, making those, and then moving on to something else. Also, as a one-person household, I make certain dishes, like an Indian Biryani for example, and have more than enough to eat for a week. I actually like leftovers but I certainly don't need to have the makings for three ot four of these big dishes on hand, but I usually do!

My goal (once I have worked through the current stock) is to start focusing on one, or two dishes at a time, and to only make amounts that can be consumed in one or two sittings.

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Dinner tonight was pasta with a mushroom cream sauce. I used the dried gourmet mushroom mix they sell at Costco (about half the container, reconstituted) and sauteed that in some butter, added my next to last shallot, garlic, thyme (bought fresh, but it's been in my fridge so long now that it has effectively dried itself), sherry, the mushroom soaking liquid, and a lot of homemade half and half (i.e. heavy cream plus milk). It was good enough to keep in mind for future pantry meals.

I also made banana muffins/cake using the last of a lot of ingredients. I basically took the CI banana bread recipe, scaled up for 4 frozen bananas. Then I subbed out about 1 2/3 c whole wheat flour (all I had left in the freezer) for some of the AP flour, made up the difference with AP flour, subbed brown sugar and honey for the white sugar (2:1 ratio), added some spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), subbed egg substitute for the eggs (because I was out of eggs), subbed double the amount of buttermilk for plain yogurt (double because that was the last of the buttermilk and my goal in making this recipe was to use up some odds and ends), and subbed way fewer pecans for the walnuts. Since I didn't have very many pecans I instead filled the mini-muffin cups with nut-free batter and then placed a pecan half on top. Not only did it look cute, it also saved me the steps of toasting and chopping the nuts. Some of the plain batter also got baked in mini-bundt pans (not enough pecans). Oh, and I remembered a tip I read in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book to let batters made with whole wheat flour rest for 10 minutes or so before baking to let the flour rehydrate a bit better.

The end result was fine. The banana flavor was muted, I think because ww flour and brown sugar/honey are much stronger. The texture was much lighter than I expected (maybe because of the buttermilk?) and ever so slightly springy (maybe because of the egg substitute?).

I used the remainder of the egg substitute in a frittata for brunch this morning (olives, sun-dried tomatoes, tuna, mozzarella). Since I could not think of anything else that could possibly substitute for eggs I broke down and bought eggs today.

I think that wraps up day 5 of my second week and I've already jotted down 5 more meal ideas from my existing stash. It never ends.

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As I mentioned before I've had very little food at home the past few days, so not only do we still have a ridiculous inventory but also we have leftovers from that $18.25 worth of stuff we bought last week. Still, we needed it, particularly for the eggs.

This morning PJ wanted apple sauce for breakfast. We have plenty of it, but he has a fondness for the individual-serving cups from the supermarket, which we stopped buying long ago in an effort to eliminate all individual-serving purchases. So I filled an old individual-serving cup with better product. I don't do this covertly. PJ knows what's happening but still likes it served in that crummy plastic cup.

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I thought for sure I'd need to shop this morning because this week is Purim and we are making small food-gift plates (shalach manos) for about 10 families. But it turned out we were just able to eke out the baking with what we had on hand. Ellen already made the blondies the other day. Today Ellen and PJ made Hamantashen, the traditional triangular jelly-filled Purim cookies. Our flour and butter supplies were exhausted by the effort, and we used passion-fruit jam from the back of the cupboard instead of the more traditional apricot, and our pastry assistant didn't make quite the sharp, tight corners called for (as a result some of the cookies charmingly came apart during baking), but it worked.

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So each small plate consists of blondies, Hamantashen, almonds, dried pineapple rings, dried peach slices, dates, chocolate-covered cashews and anything else we find in the cabinet between now and tomorrow afternoon.

I did go shopping this afternoon, primarily to top off the baking supplies and get another head of lettuce. I actually ran into Ed Levine, as I often do at Fairway, and he must have thought my cart oddly empty (if he noticed). More on that later -- I have to run.

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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Over the course of the last few days, it has been more emptying the freezer. We've had chili (thanks for prompting me to do this, Steven!). Served with cornbread (recipe off the Aunt Jemima cornmeal cardboard tubey box). Gumbo, a good use for that 1/2 bag of okra and very garlicy keilbasa rolling around in the freezer along with 1/4 pound package of venison stew meat and some chicken thighs (also rolling around in the freezer). Last night, we had chuck eye steaks (also rolling around in the freezer).

So, for this past week, it was a coupla bucks at the Asian market. $3.68 for 2 gallons of milk. $2.00 for two bunches of broccoli. A buck for a pineapple. A friend and I split a mongo box of baby greens from Costco (my cost $1.49) and three dozen eggs (my cost $1.29.

Lessons learned:

The deep freeze is not a safe deposit box, and I probably have enough vension to feed us well for a long time.

I've learned to scale some things down. I can always get up and make more salad, but when you don't have a lot of greens, there's no reason to make more than a family can eat and just pitch those greens which would be just fine, had they not been dressed, the next evening.

I cherish my herbs, spices, curry pastes and variety of mustards, vinegars and other assorted potions.

The one thing I can't skimp on are little individually sealed containers of yogurt, because they are a vehicle for some of Heidi's meds at school, and the nurse from hell won't allow me to just make it at home and put it in a little Tupperware container.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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