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Klatsch: a week without shopping

Klatsch team

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Day 1

We had another unanticipated setback leading up to the start of my week without shopping: my wife and son ate the pineapple. I had been counting on that pineapple to be our main fresh-fruit source for the last few days of the experiment. But now it's mostly gone (there are a few chunks in the fridge still, but not a lot). I could have said, "Hey, let's save the pineapple," but 1- I've been trying not to allow the observer effect to influence the coming week too much, and 2- they cut and ate the pineapple before I even realized what was going on.

Here's the general outline of the day:

Day 1 Breakfast

The breakfast ritual with PJ (our 3.5-year-old son) is that I say, "What would you like for breakfast today, PJ?" and he says "Can we see what's in the refrigerator?" So we stand in front of the open refrigerator, with the ambient temperature of the unit rising steadily, while he points to stuff and says, "What's this?" "What's that?" and finally "I want that."

Today I got lucky. My fear has been that we will be heavy egg consumers early in the week and run out. I don't know why I'm worried about that, because we have enough eggs to get through most of my hypothetical scenarios, but still I worry. I was also worried that PJ would start plowing through some other limited-inventory products. But he chose pasta.

This was a great piece of inventory control for us, because it utilized something that routinely goes into the garbage. A couple of nights ago we had meatballs and pasta (De Cecco cavatappi, a corkscrew-shaped pasta) and of course I made too much. So as I usually do I put the rest of the pasta (the unsauced portion) in a zipper bag and stuck it in the refrigerator. I never actually make a pasta salad or any of the other things I'm supposed to do with leftover plain pasta. But today PJ wanted to eat some of it. Without even knowing it, PJ got into the spirit of the experiment.

As his beverage, PJ had expired milk-in-a-box. A couple of months ago we somehow acquired a three-pack of Horizon Organic individual-serving milk boxes, like what kids pack in their lunchboxes. I think it was a product sample at a trade show, maybe. I remember at the time I stuck it in the refrigerator even though it doesn't need to be refrigerated. When I discovered it this week, I checked the date and saw that it's "Best By" some date in January. But that assumes no refrigeration -- this is shelf-stable milk. Given that it has been refrigerated since acquisition, I decided that if it tasted okay and it didn't harm me I'd give it to him. So a couple of days ago I had part of a container of the stuff. It tasted fine and didn't trigger any reaction on my part, so PJ had it for breakfast.

Me, I had yogurt and an orange. We're low on the fruit-flavored yogurts I like to eat, but we have a ton of the plain yogurt Ellen likes (plus we have the capacity to produce a seemingly limitless quantity of plain yogurt from powdered milk if we need to). So I mixed a couple of teaspoons of strawberry preserves into some plain yogurt. It was great -- it may have been better than the "fruit on the bottom" yogurt I was worried I didn't have enough of. As for the orange, we have three left now. So that should be nice for the next couple of days.

I have no idea what Ellen had for breakfast. She was out early and left no forensic evidence.

Day 1 Lunch

We have a lot of bread products in the freezer. Lunch will be tuna-salad (for more on the burning issue of "Why do we call it tuna salad?" please see the define salad topic) sandwiches on Eli's multigrain bread, at least that's what I'll be having. PJ can have peanut butter and jelly if he prefers.

Day 1 Dinner

We're having company tonight -- Ellen's cousin and her boyfriend. I've already heard via Facebook, "Can't you start your week without shopping after we come for dinner?" So I want to make sure this meal is a good demonstration of what's possible.

Four items in the freezer I've been thinking how to utilize this coming week are 1- a surplus of Hebrew National frankfurters, 2- several small bags of frozen bananas, 3- three half-eaten pints of sorbet and ice-cream, and 4- a whole spinach lasagna.

The frankfurter accumulation occurred because somehow these stayed on the shopping list two weeks in a row so we wound up with four packs instead of two. The issue with the bananas is that I buy bananas every week and sometimes we finish them but sometimes we don't. When we can remember to do it, we freeze the last of the overripe bananas with the long-term goal of using them as an ingredient in something. We rarely eat sorbet or ice cream (except for the pops that PJ likes), so whenever we buy it with the expectation of having company over we serve about half of it and shelve the rest in the freezer where it sits and accumulates ice crystals and eventually gets discarded. Finally, lasagna is such a pain to make that when you make it you may as well make two or three. The lasagna we have in the freezer was made by Ellen during such a production, but then just took on the status of "the thing taking up a quarter of the freezer" for a few months.

With the frankfurters, we are going to do Ellen's take on the "sweet-and-sour franks" hors d'oeuvre from the Elegant but Easy cookbook by Burros and Levine. Right now the franks are defrosting but if you want to see the whole recipe demonstrated start-to-finish Ellen did it a couple of years ago on this topic devoted to the book. This isn't a dish I'd serve to all guests, but I know Ellen's cousin enjoys the occasional retro-chic dish. It's also a delicious dish.

The bananas are going to become banana bread. Actually, banana-apple bread, because in the refrigerator we have two extremely ratty apples that would normally get thrown out but that can just barely be salvaged for a baking project.

We will garnish the banana bread with ice cream and sorbet, taking care to de-ice the top layer of each item prior to service.

The lasagna I'll just reheat in the oven for a long time at a low temperature, until it's heated through. I may also put a little additional tomato sauce on top (left over from the other night when we did the pasta and meatballs) and a little parmesan on top of that. We'll see.

Finally, I'll be putting together a green salad with the last of our salad ingredients. If we're lucky there will be leftovers.

Day 1 Snacks

I'm not going to chronicle snacks exhaustively, except to say that it would take us a month to plow through all the half-eaten boxes, bags and tins of crackers, pretzels, nuts and other snack foods we have around. Also there is a surplus of popcorn on hand, but we have so much in the snack-food department who knows if I'll even need to make any popcorn this week.

Some photos (I'll have a few more as the day progresses):

PJ's nutritious breakfast of plain cavatappi pasta and no-longer-best-by milk:


The two aforementioned ratty apples:


Bananas and frankfurters defrosting on the stovetop as the oven preheats:


PJ using bananas as a cold pack. He's saying "I hurt my head!" again and again.


You've already seen this photo but I wanted to point out the lasagna, bottom right of the main shelf just above the gratuitous baking soda:


I'll file an additional report later.

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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Dinner last night:


Winter vegetable soup with kielbasa and heirloom beans

3 T. olive oil

1 lb. kielbasa or other smoked sausage, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 lb. Swiss chard or other greens, stems removed and reserved, greens coarsely chopped

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked beans (canned is fine if you don't want to bother with dried)

5 to 7 cups bean cooking liquid, water or stock

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Brown the kielbasa, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot. Pour off excess fat. Add remaining oil, along with the onion, carrots and garlic. Saute for 8 minutes, stirring often.

Add chard stems, potatoes, water or stock or bean cooking liquid, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Add beans. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for one hour.

Add greens and kielbasa. Stir. Simmer for an additional fifteen minutes. Check seasoning and serve immediately.

Breakfast this morning was a fromage blanc omelette (2 eggs, salt, pepper, 1 T. fromage blanc, 1 T. unsalted butter) and a glass of milk.

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Just want to say it is fun to see the insides of people's cold space and pantry cupboards! I've been on a mission to whittle down the freezer, cause ours is pretty small and will tackle the pantry cupboard as well.

In addition, I'm into this in the following way, yesterday took some of my homemade chutney that I didn't like, and doctored it up with some of my homemade jam I didn't like and a fresh apple plus a few other tidbits and voila, great chutney result.

I'm going to pull out all the things that are getting old in my pantry and see if we can use at least one per day. Any idea how to make whole millet taste good? I have tons of onions and can make any onion based dish and still have tons!

Happily we were shopping yesterday (as I hadn't seen this or planned to participate, so we had a delicious breakfast of bacon, fried eggs, toast and my best apricot jam. We will try to have some use up ingredients for dinner.

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I’m playing a bit of catch-up with my photos and reporting, so I’ll finish up with my third day on the challenge (which was yesterday).

Saturday, February 21, Day Three, Breakfast-

The ingredients for breakfast included instant dried oatmeal and some of the toasted almonds and litchee/cherry compote from dessert after dinner on Day Two-


Breakfast also included coffee and a tangelo-


The oatmeal was dry and pasty, probably from having sat on the top shelf of the back pantry cupboard for far too long.

The litchee/cherry compote was passable, but certainly not bursting with the type of flavor I would have found had I used fresh fruits. The toasted almonds and the tangelo were delicious, but not satisfying to the point that it took away the feeling that I had deprived myself of something. (On my days off from work I like to cook a big, hearty breakfast. Last week that meant malted waffles from scratch, bacon and fresh orange slices).

After breakfast on day three, I started to realize how naïve I was going into this challenge. Naïve in terms of thinking that I had this bounty of food available and I wouldn’t go wanting for anything. With four days to go, I having some feelings of wanting creep in. My fresh fruit is down to two red delicious apples, two lemons and two tangelos-all over a week old.

My fresh vegetable supply includes some wilting watercress, a bit of limp tarragon, Napa cabbage, green onions, a chunk of English cucumber, red onions, yellow onions, four potatoes and three heads of garlic.

I’ll make do of course, but I’m starting to struggle a bit with the idea of not being able to go get what I want, with the fact that I’ve made a commitment that doesn’t allow for that luxury.

I’m becoming more and more aware of the emotional aspects of the challenge, and, I’m starting to realize that the challenges I’m experiencing, while frustrating, are at the same time giving me cause for thoughtful introspection. More on those thoughts later.

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Some supplemental Day 1 info.

For lunch we did indeed have tuna sandwiches. It had been my hope to wash the lettuce this morning for tonight's salad, but there wasn't time or space in the kitchen to pull that off. So we had our sandwiches ungarnished. On the left, PJ's sandwich and on the right mine, which I did open-face:


Ellen reports that she had yogurt, cereal and some of the leftover pineapple chunks for brunch -- she didn't really join us for breakfast or lunch.

The banana-apple breads are done. One will be consumed tonight. I won't be surprised if the other goes in the freezer to become an albatross to be dealt with in a couple of months:


I also utilized the weekend day to lay in some product for the week. Namely, a big batch of lentil soup that can fill in for any meal where I don't have time to make something to order. I used one of my four remaining onions.


Also found shallots kicking around, and used about half my remaining garlic.


There was some celery nearing the end of its usability, some so-called "baby carrots" needing to be used and a box of mushrooms edible enough for soup.



The only fresh herb available was some aging thyme, but dried oregano, marjoram and bay leaves went in as well.


All that together made for the mirepoix, then I added almost two pounds of lentils plus chicken stock plus water to top off. I have a bunch of stock in my freezer but I've had this packaged chicken stock around for a while and in a hearty soup like this one I doubt the difference will be noticeable. You actually don't need any stock for this soup, but it contributes a little flavor and texture.




Later on I'll add some vinegar to the soup and puree it about halfway with the immersion blender.

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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So, breakfast today was a half a leftover kielbasa from the other night, diced, along with a sad red bell pepper into scrambled eggs.

Dinner tonight will be a chicken curry (I opted to skin the thighs since they were looking a bit freezer burned), and prik king (my mom brought me some beautiful long beans, which do not keep well), and stir-fried broccoli. There should be enough leftovers to provide breakfasts/lunches and/or snacks for the kids after school. I do have a beautiful bunch ot Thai basil for the first two dishes, but will have leftover basil, so I need to figure out how to preserve that.

But, I do have to stop at the supermarket tomorrow to get Heidi's 'scripts. One of her meds needs to be administered with pudding or yogurt (her fav), and not just at home, but at school. She does not like jelly, and this med does not mix well with syrup. Although I have plenty of yogurt at home, it is in big containers, and Nurse Ratched at school insists on individually factory sealed containers. Peter and his buddy plowed through what I figured was my week's long stash last night while WII'ing. But, I am not taking my cash card, and only exactly enough cash for Heidi's yogurt stash, which I will drop off at school.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Hi, all;

I think I haven't gotten into this as much as some of you -- I feel guilty for not submitting photos of my pantry or freezer, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. Anyone who can tell me, it would be appreciated.

Actually, this is not a typical week for me as far as cooking goes. Friday night -- when I started this challenge, my husband called up to say he would be coming home late and wanted nothing more than a bowl of very simple pasta. By him that means spaghetti. I had some baby spinach in the refrig that needed using up so I sauteed that with some garlic, anchovies and tossed the pasta in that and then finished it off with some coarse bread crumbs I had just smashed from a stale piece of italian bread and then used a fine rasp grater to grate a few bits of Meyer lemon rind on top. It was very tasty and a nice combination of textures -- thanks to the crunch of the coarse bread crumbs -- a southern Italian and Scicilian touch.

Sat. am was our usual toasted English muffin with a slice of really good smoked salmon which I had bought at my last marketing before I knew of the challenge but which I often buy for Sat and Sun morning treats. That together with a ruby red grapefruit and some wonderful Pu'er tea.

Lunch was a few felafel balls with some yogurt and m'hammara. We went out for a light dinner before going to the opera.

Today, breakfast was a banana and a cup of tea since I had to run out of the house very early to pick up family arriving home for overseas. The they are getting soft so tomorrow I'll mash them and make a toasted English muffin with the banana mash on one side and some chunky peanut butter -- hold the salmonella -- on the other half. It is really quite tasty. Lunch was more pasta which my husband makes on the weekends. Get the feeling we eat a lot of pasta?

For tonight I took out of the freezer a small let of lamb -- organic, free roaming all sorts of good stuff -- which I will either roast in the oven if it doesn't stop raining or put on the grill if it does, with garlic and rosemary and lemon, along with some oven roasted fingerlin potatoes, and a salad.

I can see that fresh veggies are going to be a problem for me because I usually have very few frozen vegetables on hand and tend to buy veggies frequently and use them as I go. But for tonight I still have some fresh lettuce.

that is it for the weekend. It is fun reading your posts.


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Dinner last night was supposed to be leftovers: onion-fennel soup, potato/parsnip mash, and a grass-finished steak. But, due to some people coming over, I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and was out the door for some bar hopping.

I did make avocado ice cream yesterday, and as a leftover had some egg whites. I used those this morning for a egg white hash with leeks, bacon and gruyere cheese.

Now I'm consumed with making lollipops for this art project (today I've tried absinthe, kaffir lime, and maple-bacon). Tonight for dinner is a grain-finished steak and the leftovers that were intended for dinner last night.

And some Oscars!

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Saturday, February 21, Day Three, Lunch-

Lunch was composed of bits and pieces of marinated vegetables, olives, cheeses and salami from the deli that I had stowed in the meat compartment of the fridge. Sometimes I forget the nice stuff I leave in there.

Considering I don’t see myself as a bread person, or someone who actually cares much about bread, I was surprised to see how many types of bread I’ve got in the freezer-

Buttermilk dinner rolls from a local bakery.

Half a loaf of sliced whole wheat bread.

Two mini-baguettes from La Brea bakery, (one used for the French Dip sandwich for lunch on Day Two)

Three unbaked loaves of Rhodes whole wheat bread.

One unbaked loaf of Rhodes white bread.

One “artisanal” loaf from a local bakery.

I find that the commercial breads stay fresh on the counter much longer than the handmade “artisanal” types of breads. Can anyone give me some insight as to why? Had I not frozen the buttermilk rolls and the artisanal loaf within a few days of bringing the bread home, it would have turned stale whereas the sliced wheat bread would have stayed mold-free and fresh for well over a week.

Another question for everyone-do you have a special technique for cutting hearts of palm? I just cut it into pieces, but it sure looked plain on the plate. I tried cutting it in a julienne so it looked more typical of a salad, but that didn’t work when the layers started to peel off. Any tips on how you cut hearts of palm?


Grilled white and green asparagus, picholine (green) olives, dry salami, Oregon bleu cheese, Irish cheddar, manchego, marinated navy beans, hearts of palm, buttered/toasted bread. (I forgot to add a nice glass of Chardonnay)-


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Saturday, February 21, Day Three, Dinner-

Dinner was a sort of mix of Indian and British cuisine. Which of course is not unusual considering the history of the British Empire in India.

But not taking the issue too seriously, I did a nice main dish of chicken thighs stewed in Rogan Josh Curry and a chilled couscous salad. ( I really wished I had a nice tomato and some fresh cilantro to liven up the salad).

One of our supermarkets has a section within the middle of the store that is a branch of a local upscale market. It’s our local version of a mini-Whole Foods. There are Italian, Indian, British, Russian and European sections within the “mini” store. I shop there about once a month and always pick-up some interesting things like the bottle of Rogan Josh and the bottle of marinated, roasted red peppers.

My Father is retired from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and still has friendships with some of the onion farmers in the Willamette Valley. In November he sent me a 50lb. bag of both yellow and red onions. A lucky gift indeed. I keep the onions in the back utility room next to a cool window. Given our cold, snowy weather in Spokane, the onions keep quite well back there.

I bought the baby eggplant a week ago at the Asian market. I attempted to pickle the eggplant and serve it with a chicken dish last week. Well, that plan failed as the eggplant took on the texture of leather after sitting in a vinegar brine. At least I had saved two of the little beauties. They were sitting in a basket on the counter, more for looks than any plan to cook with them. Then I got the idea to put them into the chicken stew and they were delicious.

You can see my last knob of ginger is looking a bit tired and wrinkled, but passable. In the back you see a jar of preserved lemons. I always keep them on hand, regularly stocking the jar with lemons that are getting into old age in the refrigerator.


Searing the chicken in preserved lemon olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and red curry powder-


Cooking the onions, garlic, ginger, eggplant and a preserved lemon before adding to the stewpot with the sauce and chicken-


Chicken ready for stewing in the oven-


The next photo of the green onions is a bit deceptive-I pulled off the slimy layers. If I was running a salad bar at a restaurant, these green onions definitely would not have passed the muster of the health department.

Ingredients for the salad-boxed couscous, red onion, roasted red pepper, fresh lemon, the last of my one cucumber and green onions-


Chicken Rogan Josh, Couscous Salad-


Dessert came out of Victorian England-leftover fruitcake served with classic hard sauce. You may not be a lover of fruitcake, but one delicious bite of this dessert and I think I would convert you. In time of need for something sweet, my fruitcake came to the rescue.

This particular fruitcake is three years old. It’s covered in brandy-soaked cheesecloth, then sealed in a plastic packet. I keep my fruitcakes in a back, dark, shelf in the cupboard. (This fruitcake is soaked with enough booze it would have lasted a lifetime).


This fruitcake comes from a recipe that was used by the Great Northern Railroad for service in the dining cars on the "North Coast Limited" and "Empire Builder" streamliner trains. Yes, many years ago passengers actually enjoyed fruitcake for dessert on a train.



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The banana-apple breads are done. One will be consumed tonight. I won't be surprised if the other goes in the freezer to become an albatross to be dealt with in a couple of months:

Ah HA! You have struck on one of the problems of cleaning out things. When you use up several things to make a new thing.....then you have a lot of the new thing!

I have that partial box of Mochiko sweet rice flour. I found a bag of regular rice flour, and a have a big bag of coconut in the fridge. I have a great recipe to try for Thai coconut pancakes using coconut milk which I also have. Now if I make these they are sure to be delicious, but I don't need to eat them all, DH probably won't try them. SO then do I freeze them? Doesn't sound good. I need to wait for an occasion where I can take them someplace I think.

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I hope this is not OT or inappropriate....but I thought it might be interesting. I had heard that members of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) are supposed to have a storage plan.....food and supplies for a year. Here is a link to a planning guide to estimate what you should have in storage....all shelf items.

Storage calculator

Certainly nothing fancy, heavy on grains and legumes, and I'm assuming it figures you could still grow vegetables and fruits since there are none of those. Much different from what we are seeing in our pantries, but with regular rotation you could be quite prepared. It also assumes also that you have basic cooking skills for bread making etc.


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Any idea how to make whole millet taste good?

You could try mixing a little of it into white rice, and cooking them together. I used to enjoy rice like this quite often in Korea.

The banana-apple breads are done. One will be consumed tonight. I won't be surprised if the other goes in the freezer to become an albatross to be dealt with in a couple of months:

Is there anyone you can gift it to? Whenever I make an excess of pickles, I take them down to my vegetable guy, and he enjoys the novelty of that. I have no idea if he actually enjoys the pickles or not, but bringing food to people generally spreads good feelings around.

Or you could just eat it for breakfast, which is what I usually do with banana bread.

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Some follow-up on dinner.

Our last head of lettuce turned out to be an incredibly productive one. I washed the leaves in two batches: for the dinner guests I selected the nicest inner leaves, and then I took the rest and trimmed them of defects before washing. I wrapped the non-company leaves in paper towels and put them in a plastic bag. I don't know what their longevity will be exactly, but quantity-wise we could be looking at several days worth of small salads. The company lettuce:


Arugula and radicchio (the arugula is almost gone, but there's a good deal of radicchio left and I think it will have good longevity -- so for the end of the week maybe I'll be able to do something like that just to get a fresh vegetable in the diet).


Crunchy sprouts (end of box):


Cucumber and tomato (still have some of each left, just not sure how well they'll hold):


Presented that way, then dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.

Reheating frozen lasagna can be tricky and you really need about an hour and a half to do it right. There are two seemingly contradictory problems with reheating frozen lasagna: 1- it can be soggy, and 2- it can be dried out. Starting in the microwave, covered with plastic wrap, is in my opinion the way to go. This defrosts all the way through (stick a knife in the center to be sure). It's okay if the center is still cold, but if it's frozen that's no good. Then I think it makes sense to cover the top of the lasagna with some extra sauce, to keep the exposed top from drying out. Then it gets about 45 minutes at 350 covered with foil, followed by about 10 minutes uncovered. Top with Parmesan after uncovering. Then I gave it about a minute under the broiler, just to finish off the cheese.




The banana-apple bread slices went into the microwave for 30 seconds to make them warm, then we topped them with vanilla ice cream and peach sorbet. This dessert came out exceptionally well, I thought. Had sort of a bread pudding quality to it. And the random inventory of vanilla and peach frozen confections couldn't have been better if we'd chosen those flavors.


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'm on board. Very timely too, as we are moving in May. Since I stock up during sales I have a very bountiful pantry/freezer, and even though I keep telling myself it's time to stop buying and start plowing through it, habits are hard to break. I think I may even want to challenge myself to do this every other week until we move.

I'm not quite sure when my week starts though, as I don't really do a big weekly trip, so I guess I'll just start it today. I didn't see this thread until this evening so I did pick up milk at the store earlier today, but before that my last trip was on Thursday. We had people over for dinner on Friday so we've been grazing on the leftovers all weekend. Now that the fridge is looking spacious I had been planning on making up a meal plan for the week tonight and doing some more comprehensive grocery shopping tomorrow, but obviously not anymore.

So, for dinner tonight (2 adults, 1 3-year-old) we had leftover braised lamb shanks (about 1/2 portion of meat, plenty of braising liquid), leftover mashed potatoes (about 2 servings), and 1/2 a bag of frozen mixed vegetables sauteed in some olive oil (also about 2 servings), plus standard beverages (milk for the kid, water for me, beer for my husband). This made for extremely modest portions, but no one minded because that meant that my husband got to munch on chips and salsa, which he loves, my daughter got a handful of teddy grahams, which she carefully pressed into her mashed potatoes and ate together, and I had a slice of leftover cake, which I was able to fully enjoy because I wasn't too full. Besides eating up perishable leftovers, I realized I rather liked that they made a dent in the many partially eaten bags of snack food we have in the pantry.

I also cooked up a big pot of chili for dinner tomorrow night. It used up some ground beef in the freezer, which I apparently hadn't done a very good job of wrapping because there were lots of ice crystals in the bag. Surprisingly though, the ice crystals were somehow completely separate from the meat itself, so once defrosted it was fine. No freezer burn. I also threw in a red bell pepper that I probably would have thrown out otherwise (no signs of rot or mold, but very limp and sad), an onion from the pantry plus half an onion from the fridge, all the little teeny annoying cloves of garlic from the middle of two heads, 2 cans of black beans (I still have about 10 cans of assorted beans left), a few cans of tomatoes (lots of those left as well), and a healthy dose of spices (including the last of the chili powder). Tomorrow it will get served with some sour cream that has been waiting for a purpose for a few weeks now and a red onion that I think may be starting to sprout. Oh well, I'll just cut that part out.

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Six quarts of lentil soup ready to go, two containers in the fridge and one in the freezer.


Tomorrow I head to Philadelphia midday and won't be back until late at night. I need to feed myself and PJ breakfast, and he'll need lunch (which will be something portable consumed on the trip to school -- school starts at 12:30 tomorrow). For dinner Ellen and PJ will be having lentil soup, salad and perhaps some leftover hot dogs, or lasagna. I guess I'll know when I return home.

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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Alright, here is a quick look at provisions

Freezer 1. This one stores all the stocks, fats and most of the sausages we made a month or so ago.


Freezer2. Few proteins, bacon, frozen veggies and berries..and look like I have some frozen bananas in there as well. Looking through this freezer I found that I have been hording too much bones for stock, 2 full bags of mostly chicken bones.




Look here. So suitable for this no shopping week, I went through my backyard before the lawn guy stopped by and picked all my "weeds" aka Dandelions! Really good stuff simply wrapped in pita bread with olives and olive oil.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Saturday dinner:

A bastardized version of Pho. I used a new stock I made a day or so ago from leftover roasted chicken. I used up my two chicken breasts here and a small old stash of wood ear shrooms. Also half of my cilantro. I would've loved to have some fresh chillies, basil and bean sprouts too. Oh well...it was still delicious with some Sriracha and lots of lime.



Sunday dinner:

I cooked the two lamb shanks I had with red beans. It was fairly middle eastern with tomato paste, onion (rationing, so I used a bit less than normal), garlic, cumin, allspice and served it with pita bread. Very good and I made enough for at least another dinner this week, probably tomorrow's. I normally would've chopped some onions to go on top, but like I said, I am trying to make the two that are left last.





E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I found a whole frozen chicken hiding in the freezer under the frozen pumpkin puree and decided to make a sort-of chicken pho. I know that these rice noodles aren't the usual pho noodles but what the hey! At least my broth was clear and flavorful. I really took the cleaver to those bones and exposed the marrow.


The garnish plate (not shown) was bean sprouts, sliced green chilis, cilantro and lime wedges. The condiments offered were hoisin, sriracha and a chili garlic sauce.

This was for my husband. I on the other hand ate a ton of beef jerky, the last sweet potato with a large dollop of plain yogurt and half a head of steamed cauliflower. I was tired after a very long walk and a heap o' steamed vegetables sounded perfect. I'll eat my leftovers for lunch tomorrow. So far I've only bought a gallon of milk because...well, I don't have a cow (I wish!) and my husband "needs" his morning oatmeal with milk and I'm not quite stupid enough to interfere with the gents a.m. routine. :wink:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?


Twin Peaks

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One of my friends makes halvah and when it is partially set, rolls it out between two sheets of parchment paper then rolls it into a tight roll (still in the paper) and uses a sharp blade to cut it into narrow strips.  For big batches she uses a paper cutter that she keeps for kitchen use.  I don't remember it being as fine as the stuff in the photo but is perhaps 1/4 inch or slightly less in width. 

After cooking the halvah, she spreads it into a sheet pan lined with Reynolds "Release" foil. 

If she is just cutting it into squares she leaves it in the fridge for more than a day - perhaps 36 hours.  If she is going to roll it she starts working it at about 12 hours while it is still pliable.  She told me that if I ever plan to make halvah, I should never make it on a rainy day.  (Not much of a problem in so.Calif., most of the time.)

She braids some of the strips, forms the braid into a coil or a knot and dips them in chocolate.

P.S.  She also tried rolling and cutting it with a pasta machine and says, "don't try it!  The machine will never be the same."

This sounds fabulous. Can you get the recipe for halvah from your friend? I'd love to try making it...er, after this challenge.

Miriam Kresh


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Day 1 for me was yesterday.

I've realized that often I get home so late and tired that I don't really feel like cooking, and thus most of the stuff that I buy to cook goes un-used while I make frequent shopping trips for more convenient provisions. This is a direct consequence of the fact that my weekly shopping trips consist of buying for planned meals that I never get around to making.

So this experiment is going to force me to actually cook some of the stuff I've been planning on making for awhile.

In order to maximize my chances of success, I decided to spend yesterday doing a lot of the prep work for the week. I'd been on call overnight at the hospital, so spending a lazy sunday watching TV and cooking sounded like a great plan.

Breakfast was (a lot of) mimosas with one of my buddies while we watched last week's Lost. (Post-call drinking is one of the great under-rated pleasures of residency).

I decided to make a couple loaves of sandwich bread to have on hand for the week. It's been awhile since I've made bread, it's one of those things that I usually just pick up at the local bakery. I'd forgotten how much fun it is!

While the dough was rising I chopped up my butternut squash and put it in the oven to roast. I plan on using this with the pancetta later this week to make a pasta dish.

After the squash finished roasting I slid my loaves into the oven. As the house filled with the aroma of baking bread (yum!) I pulled the leftover chili out of the fridge and rolled out one of my previously-frozen batches of pizza dough. The chili, plus a healthy handful of cheese, was folded into the dough to make chili-cheese calzones. These went into the oven after the bread.

Dinner was a nice chunk of warm bread, with lots of butter, plus the cold asparagus salad I had in the fridge. And a couple glasses of wine while I watched the Oscars :biggrin:

So, going into the week I have the calzones and the roasted squash pasta planned so far. I'll post pics later this AM once I get a chance to download them.

Loving everyone's meals so far!!

Sarah Fernandez aka "mssurgeon81"

Philadelphia, PA

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Just a recap of yesterday's "sweet-and-sour franks" hors d'oeuvre from the Elegant but Easy cookbook. Again the full explanation and discussion of that book are here. But these are the photos, for completeness of the current topic. Again, this is a very retro dish, and it's not for everybody, but for people with a sense of humor the flavor is pretty great. It also happens to be an excellent week-without-shopping recipe if you have a surplus of frankfurters.






The original recipe calls for, I believe, currant jam. At time she prepared the recipe for the above photos, Ellen used blueberry preserves. This week, however, we were digging in the pantry and discovered these:


This product was actually a great substitute for currants. Who would've thunk?

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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Day 2

As I mentioned, I'll be out of town for most of today. I have to go to Philadelphia to be a judge at the "Philly Cooks!" event. If the rules allow me to, I'll post something about the event when I return but on a separate topic. The reason I'm mentioning it is that I won't be here for dinner. I also have a dinnertime event tomorrow. I was looking at my "pantry" today and thinking, wow, this week isn't even going to make a dent in our inventory.

Day 2 - Breakfast

As I mentioned, we are out of fruit-flavored yogurts. PJ and I prefer the fruit-flavored ones, whereas Ellen tends to eat plain. So for this week the workaround we've come up with is to mix fruit preserves into the plain yogurt to create what is essentially the same thing Dannon gives you with "fruit-on-the-bottom" yogurt.

Today we busted out an inhabitant of the preserves shelf (more of a quadrant of a shelf): IKEA lingonberry preserves. This product combined with yogurt turned out to make a very good breakfast for me and PJ. I also had an orange.



Day 2 - Lunch

The lingonberry preserves will also get used for lunch, which will be peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on Eli's frozen bread (defrosted, of course). I'm making one for PJ and one for me. Normally on a day like this I'd just make lunch for PJ. I'd assume, since I'm judging a restaurant competition this afternoon, that I'll just not eat anything for lunch. Then I'd be commuting on the Acela (trying very hard not to make any Joe Biden references) and I'd want a snack, so I'd spend $5 on some junk in the awful Amtrak snack car. This week, because I'm spending $0 on food, I'm bringing a sandwich just in case. I don't plan to eat it but you never know.


Day 2 - Dinner

The lentil soup I made yesterday will form the core of PJ and Ellen's dinner. Beyond that I don't know much.

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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My quick recap is that I read of this no shopping challenge on Friday, just after having stopped at Trader Joe's for some bananas. Without any planning, I was committed to using what is on hand.

Friday lunch was my normal two sandwiches - lunch meat, lettuce, mustard, and pickles on Sourdough from Trader Joe's plus a peanut butter and currant jelly on the same bread.

Friday evening we were invited to a friend's home for dinner so that I could provide some instruction regarding selling on eBay. I brought a blueberry cobbler made with some of the blueberries I recently purchased from The Fresh Market for $.99/pint. I bought a box of twelve pints and froze most of them.

Saturday morning, I had my usual bowl of oatmeal from a mix I have been making for several years. A recipe in Taste of Home caught my eye six or seven years ago, and I have been making the recipe ever since - with a few minor adjustments. We then visited the Mercedes dealership where I bought my car in 2000 and viewed the new 2010 Mercedes GLK 350 (what is a 2010 model doing on display in February 2009?) - and ate a variety of pastries which they made available.

On our way back home, we picked Janis' car up at the shop where it had been for the past week and then went to the best sandwich shop in Atlanta for lunch - Muss and Turner in Smyrna.

Saturday evening we finally ate a meal at home. It consisted of the balance of the chicken and rice casserole I had prepared for Thursday evening, the balance of the carrot sticks I also served on Thursday, a good portion of mediocre seedless watermelon also cut up for Thursday, and I finished the open bag of tortilla chips with some fat free French Onion dip that Janis doesn't like. Dessert was the previously mentioned blueberry cobbler.

Sunday morning we left for church with me eating a banana before we left. We snacked enough at church to hold us until we went out for lunch at Bagelicious. Sunday evening found us at Shillings-on-the-Square in Marietta for dinner with two other couples who also have season tickets for Theatre on the Square. We saw "Tales of a Soccer Mom", which was one of the best plays I have seen there in some time.

Today, I had my morning oatmeal and Janis had a bowl of cold cereal - as we almost always do. Her lunch is a meal from the freezer (since we had no leftovers, which she prefers to take) and I will repeat my Friday sandwiches.

Tonight, I am preparing "Korean-Style Flank Steak" from Complete Cooking Light cookbook, along with Brussels Sprouts Roasted with Bacon and Shallots - from About.com and a Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad from Southern Living 2001 Annual Recipes. As you can see, I am not the accomplished cook that most of you appear to be. I still need a recipe to use what is on hand - or for something where I must buy many of the ingredients. Someday I hope to progress to the point where I, like many of you, can look at several ingredients and prepare something tasty using them - without looking at a recipe. I am getting fairly comfortable with substitutions, but that is as far as it goes. Our dessert this evening will be strawberries and bananas, which will finish off the fresh strawberries while they still look good. That also is the case with the brussels sprouts, cucumber, and tomato.

The rest of the week may get a little more challenging, because I am not planning every dish yet. We will have some leftovers tonight and they will be part of tomorrow evening's meal. How much I will need to prepare fresh for tomorrow is yet to be determined. Regardless, we definitely will still have enough food on hand to go well beyond the week. I doubt that the pantry shelves will look much lighter when the week is over.

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