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Klatsch: a week without shopping

Klatsch team

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This whole experiment is giving me a lesson in "it's not a good deal if you aren't going to use it." 

Please don't say that.... You (and this whole Klatsch, in which evening meetings all week have prevented me from participating) are violating one of my most sacred shopping oaths: "If it's cool and a good deal, buy it! You'll use it someday!"

Doesn't really apply to scallions, sorry to say! But, like I said, they would have looked mighty fine with the celery, in a lawn chair, with a parasol drink!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I am ashamed.

I spontaneously did this challenge after initial strenuous mental resistance. My week's almost up, and it wasn't even hard. I won't describe any meals because they required zero ingenuity.

I am a longstanding food hoarder, and I also hate to throw anything away. Last summer I preserved a ton of food for the first time - pickles, jams, frozen stuff, etc. I thought fondly of my grandmother, whose home canned and frozen foods I ate all the time growing up. The shelf holding all that stuff is still full. I go shopping every week. I'm pretty sure I have a net increase of food stored through this winter.

I got the memo about putting food by, but then the memo about ACTUALLY EATING IT seems to have missed me. It's not that it's not good. I love it all. It's that I resist using it because, well, what if I need it later? I actually thought of a great use for a three-year-old lump of tamarind paste and briefly discarded the idea, because then I'd be out and wouldn't have any if suddenly, what, I had a tamarind emergency? In that case, GO BUY SOME MORE! And it will taste better because it's not three years old!

Thank you, all, for making me discover a bizarre irrationality in my thought processes, which I am duly weeding out. I am going to strenuously resist all new food purchases (except the usual eggs and milk) until I have made a serious dent in my stash. Because after all, I'm already collecting pickle and jam recipes for this summer...

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My languid last two stalk of celery remind me that I also have a beautiful hunk of ginger.  How best to store it?  It's more than I can use in a month of Sundays.  (Let's not even talk about planting it; I'm struggling to keep my Kaffir Lime tree alive this winter.)  Whiz in the Cuiz Mini-Prep and freeze?

I'd just peel it, slice it into little chunks, perhaps individually wrap them in plastic wrap, pop into a ziploc bag and freeze it. When you need some ginger, just grate one with a microplane right from the freezer. It's actually easier to work with this way. I wish I had known of this technique years ago. Would have saved me many knots of good ginger.

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. . .  and drank the last glass of wine I had left.

Wait! Whoa! Hold on just a minute! Wine-runs are out, too?! Uhhhh . . .

Well, goody! We get to dip into the good stuff! Whoo-hoo!

So, I guess I spoke (boasted) too soon about this being easy. Last night in the middle of cooking the turkey pot pie the freakin' oven door fell off when I opened it to check on the pie!! I could just continue to use it with the oven-cleaning latch on, but that seems a bit too risky, so I think I'll just retire the range until I can replace it - a challenge in itself, cuz it might be awhile, but I think I remember a topic somewhere here about making do without an oven.

Actually, it doesn't upset me too much, because there is a silver lining here as well. I've mentioned before that I hate this oven, and now I feel truly justified in replacing it. This is its third strike; the two cast iron burners which heat up slowly and cool down even more slowly, the one regular coil burner that doesn't work any more, the light that is so weak it doesn't illuminate anything (so I have to keep opening the door), the clock that stopped years ago, the fact that something blows and has to be replaced every time I try to actually use the self-cleaning feature, and now this (wait, that's six strikes!). So I have to find $2K or so for a new oven (I'm looking for an electric slide-in range (has to be electric :angry: ) with a downdraft (it's under a window), a convection oven and range components I can mix and match), but in the meantime, no oven. I can get along fine without it for most everything for a while (as long as the two remaining burners keep working!), but there will be no baking (unless I can do the no-knead bread in the Weber). Good thing I had the pitas and the extra biscuits! They'll last us easily for the rest of the week.

So. Last night was the turkey pot pie, paired with a 2005 Burrell's School "Detention" Amador Ryan Oaks Vineyard zin that was absolutely the best wine I have ever tasted. Made contemplating the expense of a new range quite bearable.

This morning we shared a ham & cheddar omelet for breakfast, and we brought in a selection of three or four bits of leftover cheese from last Friday's impromptu party for lunch between classes. Tonight I think I'll do shrimp and rice with cubed carrots and frozen peas. That's a favorite of ours, and I can use the shells to add to my stock of shrimp stock.

I must say, this really has been a wonderful exercise and a great read. I've added a bunch of new dishes to my "must try" list, and I've noticed several new members (welcome!), and I've been thinking a lot about what really should be in my freezer, and what doesn't need to be there (at least in as much quantity). For instance, next time I get a chance I think I'm going to make and freeze several batches of mirepoix (I think it will be ok if I sweat it first). And why did I have a six-year-old store-bought fruitcake of unknown origin taking up space in there? :laugh:

Thanks for the link to Bittman's frozen vegetable article, Fat Guy. I somehow missed that, and now I feel much better about using frozen bell pepper strips!

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Last night's dinner was all the (rapidly wilting) salad greens I'd been hanging onto this week, plus a few cherry tomatoes. They're out of season but I'd picked some up last week at the farmer's market because they looked so good. (I should have known better). And lots of feta cheese, with a pear-champagne vinaigrette from Trader Joe's.

So healthy-tasting, so yummy....

Sarah Fernandez aka "mssurgeon81"

Philadelphia, PA

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Just caught up reading this in my hotel room in Columbia, South Carolina. I'm about to set off in search of barbecue, but I have a general question to throw out: like many of the participants in this forum, I often cook up a large batch of something--chili, spaghetti sauce, soup--and then freeze a few meals' worth for later. Do you-all follow any rule of thumb for how soon you will repeat a meal in your household? I think I generally try to let at least three weeks go by before I pull out the same meal again, but I have to say, this is in deference to my family, and maybe my sense of craft. I myself would be content to eat the same thing several days in a row.

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Just caught up reading this in my hotel room in Columbia, South Carolina. I'm about to set off in search of barbecue, but I have a general question to throw out: like many of the participants in this forum, I often cook up a large batch of something--chili, spaghetti sauce, soup--and then freeze a few meals' worth for later. Do you-all follow any rule of thumb for how soon you will repeat a meal in your household? I think I generally try to let at least three weeks go by before I pull out the same meal again, but I have to say, this is in deference to my family, and maybe my sense of craft. I myself would be content to eat the same thing several days in a row.

My habit, in general, is to serve it until it is gone. Occasionally, a very large amount is made with the intention of freezing part for later consumption. When that is done, the wait is usually a month or more.

By serving a dish until it has all been consumed, we seldom have a meal entirely of leftovers. One or two new dishes are prepared and one or two leftovers are finished off generally. The food choices change slightly - which generally keeps us from tiring of a particular dish.

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Not much to report for the past couple of days. Leftovers for lunches and dinner at my neighbor's home last night.

Cold cereal (a combo of frosted mini wheats, flax & bran flakes/raisins and Cheerios) all sold in bulk at Winco, mixed with strawberry kefir and allowed to soak just a bit but still crunchy.

And very healthy and good for me. I don't believe in paying premium prices for minute portions of "probiotic" yogurt!

Lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich made from small remaining chunks of several different cheeses.

Tonight I am preparing a frozen dinner from Home Bistro: Chicken Cacciatore. 420 calories. I ordered two dozen of their Lighter Side meals last fall and this finishes the batch. I liked everything and found the quality much better than store brands.

I will do something more ambitious for tomorrow evening as I have three guests coming for dinner. One is vegetarian (but not vegan) so I will have to prepare something without meat, poultry or fish. Fortunately she will eat cheeses and eggs, so I should be able to pull together something fairly substantial.

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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I think Lora is right on with the hoarding thing......IF I USE it ,it will be GONE.

So far this week I have dipped into/ used up several items I might have left in storage if not for this adventure. Ate the last Bosc pear.....bought at the public market 3 weeks ago. Opened and enjoyed a jar of home-made peach/plum brandy jam. Started eating the whole grain no knead bread from freezer. Also, some really good pumpkin bread with raisins and walnuts. Probably from Thanksgiving.

Tonight's dinner was a batch of carnitas from Jayme's recipe. Everyone should have some of that in freezer.


On the beverage side.....if that counts....we love Wegman's Wedge ....a sort of grapefruit diet beverage. But this week we are drinking up the bargain (4th of July ?) 12 packs of cans.......Pepsi products mostly.

Week two begins tomorrow.

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I have actually been trying to stay away from the items in my freezer this week, because those are the things I usually turn to. Instead I have been trying to use up some of the pantry items I have but rarely use. So far I have used two types of rice noodles and I WILL use the last of the lentils tomorrow night.

Last night and tonight though I was tired, and resorted to regular pasta both nights. Last night was pasta with some homemade bolognese sauce that I have in the freezer. Tonight, though I used pasta as my starch, I also used up a bunch of other items that are rarely used. I made a puttanesca-type sauce with the last fresh plum tomato, some artichoke hearts, a couple of really good kalamata olives, capers, pepperoni and tossed in some fresh mozzarella left over from making pizza lat weekend. It was one of the most outstanding things I have made in weeks! On the side I used up a couple of carrots and the last of the cucumber. I still have a bell pepper, half a package of celery, about a pound of carrots, one onion, and more artichoke hearts for produce. Some of it WILL go into the lentils. If I keep telling myself I will use them, then I will! :biggrin: eventually...

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Before I report on Day 5, a quick announcement:

Saturday night, which will be day 7 for a lot of us, let's have a "virtual potluck." In other words, make your best dish after a week of no shopping (which means it has been two weeks since you've shopped) and post about it. One dish, like you'd bring to a potluck.

Day 5

For breakfast I made PJ an egg sandwich, Ellen had yogurt and cereal, and I had three Advil and a fistful of pretzel nuggets (so as not to take the Advil on an empty stomach).

This afternoon we had to take my mother to Costco so she could buy supplies for her Saturday sports program for disabled kids. So we decided to put together a free lunch of Costco samples: today's offerings in Yonkers included cheese tortellini, pita chips with Alouette garlic-and-herbs cheese spread, some crackers that tasted a little like pita chips with Alouette garlic-and-herbs cheese spread, assorted cakes from the David's Cookies people (served under a yard-sized red canopy), cubes of cheddar cheese and two different energy drinks.

PJ requested rice with duck sauce for dinner. Trouble was, no duck sauce. So I fabricated a duck-sauce substitute from apricot and plum preserves, a drop of soy sauce, a drop of sesame oil and a little hot water to thin the mixture. It seemed to work for him.


He also ate a healthy portion of the fritatta/omelette/whatever that I made with half of our remaining eggs (only three left now). In the freezer I found some mushrooms that I had cooked and frozen months ago. I did it because they were nearing the end of their usable lives and we were about to go out of town. Normally something like that, in the freezer, would die a slow death and eventually be discarded during spring cleaning. But thanks to this week's challenge they actually got used. They reconstituted quite well.


Only three eggs left now (the three in the bowl got cooked):


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 haven't bothered to mention breakfast so far because we've had plenty of cereal, oatmeal, and milk, so nothing has really changed on that front. However, this morning I decided to make sort of a faux tortilla espanol. I had leftover potatoes from the other night that had been very thinly sliced and cooked under some roasting chicken, thus they were pretty rich from all that chicken fat. I figured that was a close enough substitute for sliced potatoes cooked in copious amounts of olive oil. I heated those up in a pan and then poured in enough egg substitute to surround. (I am down to 4 eggs so I sort of felt like I needed to hoard them.) It was actually very good and was the first time egg substitute didn't taste like an obvious diet food to me. Apparently the secret to making diet food more palatable is chicken fat. :laugh:

Dinner was various leftovers from the week, plus some frozen veggies.

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I am enjoying everyone's creativity, but am not participating because I went from December 28 to February 1 only visiting the grocer once and spending only $68 on that trip. Actually, it has been two weeks since I went to the grocery on Feb. 11, so I guess I've been a non-active participant.

Three things motivated me: my freezer, refrigerator and pantry were chock full; I was sick for several weeks of that time period and not motivated to leave the house; my December food costs were way out of sight. Can't say it was creative though, as I didn't feel like cooking for most of that time.

This whole thread makes you stop and think. A friend is coming in on Sunday and I am planning to make a Hungarian Gulyas Soup which calls for 2 lbs. of beef chuck. I have one pound in the freezer and rather than buying another I plan to cut up a couple of thick pork chops instead. (I like to buy a loin and cut it up myself for chops, but I get sick of them before I finish them.) I'll make a loaf of bread and something chocolate for her and have lots of time for talk.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I finally finished baking a loaf of bread at 11:30 last night. That loaf finished off my bread flour, whole wheat flour and yeast. I was pretty darn tired but it was worth it to have garlic bread with our spaghetti and salad tonight. *And* there's enough sauce and salad makings for supper tomorrow night. That will bring me to Saturday. I'm thinking tuna salad sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch and either one of the freezer containers of pork chili with skillet cornbread for supper or do something with the pork loin roast. I'd suuuure like a head of cabbage to open up my options with the pork roast...but I'll abstain. The end of Sunday will be my seventh day and so far I've purchased only a gallon of milk. This is a big change from my usual routine and I really like it. Alot. :cool:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?


Twin Peaks

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How delicious! Bravo.

I was pretty proud of myself. Then, last night, working on a totally different project, I stumbled across the Ducasse dish that inspired mine. It was better.



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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Last night got derailed. I had stuck some paprika'd thighs on top of a bed of onions in the LC and then into the oven.

When it became apparent that Peter and I needed to get Heidi into the ER, dinner plans for the three of us got derailed. Paul and Diana had the chicken, but didn't bother with potatoes or noodles (which it needed), not did they bother to adjust salt and pepper, so they pronounced it "not great" and "it looked burned" (it wasn't). So, we'll resurrect the leftovers in a few days; it's sitting nicely on the outdoor freezer.

Peter and I had McDonald's.

I never did get to filling and freezing my potstickers yesterday.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I maybe late in joining in the fray but I vow to not buy anything for lunch/dinner for me and our youngest son. I might have to get meat for my hubby may 2 times this coming week but I think my freezer has enough food for about 2 weeks.

So far I've got:

4 ziplock bags of potstickers

2 servings of Filipino sinigang soup

1 serving of Filipino boiled beef soup

1 bag of chicken backs and neck (for hubby's chicken soup on Sunday)

1 tray of chicken breasts (for hubby's chicken soup)

4 servings of callos

1 ziploc bag of flaked chicken meat

2 servings of gumbo

1 ziploc bag of fatty pork

2 ziploc bags of yard long beans

1 1/2 ziploc bag of okra

1 bag of korean mini burgers

5 bags of lemongrass

5 scad fish

5 dalagang bukid fish (yellowtail fusiller)

6 containers of tomato paste

1 package crinkle cut tomatoes

In the fridge proper: 1 small pot of pork & chicken adobo (about 4 servings), 1 serving of pot roast and veggies, 1 pound of breakfast sausage, 1 and 1/2 packs of bacon, 1 pack of sliced ham, 1/2 pack of Filipino hotdogs, 1 pack of korean hotdogs, 2 servings of garlic fried rice, a bowl of strawberries, 4 roasted eggplants, 1 loaf of bread trimmings, 1/2 carton of milk, 20 large eggs and 1 salted egg.

In my pantry, I have:

1 can of green jackfruit in brine

1 bottle of dried mung beans

1 package of thin rice noodles (Filipino)

1 pound of spaghetti noodles

1 small bowl of curly noodles

3 small cans of tuna

2 pounds of rice

1 small pack of dried squid

1 small pack of dried fish

3 cups of barley

Veggies include: 5 potatoes, 5 onions, 5 bell peppers, 1/2 bag of wilting lettuce, 1 small bowl of cherry tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 zuchinni and 1 cup minced garlic.

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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How delicious! Bravo.

I was pretty proud of myself. Then, last night, working on a totally different project, I stumbled across the Ducasse dish that inspired mine. It was better.



You mean you didn't have any fresh, white truffles from Alba sitting in a little dish of rice on your counter?

Oh my does that take an egg dish over the top. Bravo again.

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Last night instead of the shrimp with rice I was thinking of doing, we had our version of one of the "20 minute meals" in the newest Real Simple mag. (We got home late and hungry). The recipe was for Lemony Shrimp with White Beans and Couscous and it reminded me that I always seem to forget about using couscous instead of rice, and I knew there was a can of white beans in the pantry. I had some little lemons in the freezer (someone here at eGullet told me I could do that - thanks!) and I just dropped one in warm water and it thawed beautifully (and turned out to be completely seedless). I used my shrimp stock to cook the couscous (and the new shrimp shells went right back with the rest of the stock into the pot so the new batch is even better). The only things I didn't have on hand were scallions (I used a regular yellow onion and it was fine) and fresh parsley (the parsley I grow out on the deck was under a few inches of the freak snow we had yesterday morning) The dish really needed something green, so I added some leftover cooked peas. They weren't really that beautiful - you know how re-cooked peas get sort of grey? - but they were nice and plump and tasty, and the dish was a success. Normally, when I cook from a new recipe I try to follow it exactly, but next time I do shrimp and coucous I'll do it this way again (with fresher peas).

The wine last night was another Burrell School. This one was "Spring Break" Syrah, a 2005 Estate Pichon Vineyard - Santa Cruz Mountains. Oh, man. Heaven. So nice to have just for us, on a regular weeknight -- we could get used to this! Uh, oh.

It was Doc's turn to make breakfast, and he found some more leftover low-salt Spam (I thought we'd seen the last of that earlier in the week) and chopped it up and served it with scrambled eggs in our new favorite vehicle, pita bread. We'll snack on cheese and/or nuts again for lunch, and tonight we'll be having a meal straight from the freezer - hamburgers (Costco sirloin burgers left over from a work-related party that was I'm embarrassed to say how long ago) on onion rolls, and something from the array of frozen veggies - I think probably broccoli, which we like with blue cheese dressing - and then I can offer blue cheese for the burgers, too. We'll miss tomatoes and lettuce (well, I'll check the salad mix that's been sitting the clear "plastic" box it came in for a while -- it might still be OK. I have found that the boxed stuff usually does hold up much better than bagged salad greens; I just wash it in the spinner as soon as I get it home, and put it right back in the box.)

Tomorrow will be leftover biscuits, with sausage gravy (normally I'd use Jimmy Dean roll sausage, but I'm out, so I'll thaw out a couple of Costco's chicken and apple sausages and skin 'em. I'm out of milk and I'll want to save enough cream for Doc's coffee (!), but I've used plain yogurt and/or sour cream in sausage gravy before so I know that'll work). Leftovers from earlier dinners for lunch (if we want any) and an early dinner at a PTA function we will be attending.

Eggs in some form Sunday morning, and the Sunday dinner roast beef will have to be braised stove-top (oven is out of commission). I'll use all of the rest of the fingerling potatoes and some of the carrots and onions and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and some chicken stock for that. (So, even though it will be late, that's my Saturday potluck contribution.)

Edited by Special K (log)
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Our week of no grocery shopping concluded this morning. Tonight's dinner will include the first newly purchased item since last Friday morning - shrimp for a shrimp and corn soup I have been planning on making for a couple of weeks. It needed to wait until tonight because we were missing the shrimp - which, as the name implies, is critical to the dish.

It became very evident, as the week progressed, that we had enough to make only a week of no shopping a fairly easy process. I just got back from buying the shrimp, some milk, and a few other things - but the avoidance of grocery stores will continue for at least another week. We enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, but the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator are where the overstock is found. I will continue to work on reducing the quantities in all of those areas.

Tomorrow evening's potluck meal is already planned from on hand ingredients. Our subdivision's homeowners association is hosting the annual chili cookoff and I have entered mine, which will cook all day in our crock pot while we attend a retreat all afternoon. Chili ingredients are one of the causes of the overstock. Even though I have made chili more often this year than last - it will take a couple more batches to reduce the pantry contents appreciably.

The future grocery purchases will be just what is necessary to use what is still here. Hopefully, all that I need is already on hand - but stocking for someday in the future will not happen.

Fat Guy, this was a great idea! Thank you for inspiring me to do what already needed to be done. Reading all of the posts, along with viewing the various pictures, helped greatly. Someday, I will have enough experience to look at various ingredients and I will be able to create a dish from them. I'm not there yet, but it could happen.

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Wednesday, February 25, Day Seven, Dinner-

Wednesday night was the final day of my challenge-the culmination of an interesting, enlightening, and reflective week.

I would have posted my final dinner earlier, but I had a nasty little turn with some scurvy to deal with. (I use the term scurvy tongue-in-cheek. I was sick, but I didn’t have the illness of the pirates-my affliction wasn’t precipitated by not eating an adequate supply of fresh fruits and vegetables during my challenge week).

I only portrayed two breakfasts and lunches (on my days off work), during the my challenge. The remaining five breakfasts and lunches were a mix of leftovers and bits and pieces I scavenged from the cupboards and freezer.

I must thank Peter the Eater for inspiring me to create a dish using huckleberries-a fruit I consider to be the holy grail if you will of all the world’s foods. (Those of you who have followed some of my previous posts know of my love of the wild huckleberry).

The thoughts that were provoked during my challenge week were brought to the fore-front as I prepared the final dinner on Wednesday night-a dinner composed primarily of locally-sourced ingredients that I already had on hand. These local ingredients were at the peak of their flavor when they were harvested and their flavor didn't suffer for sitting too long in my freezer.

The challenge brought forward the idea that if I had properly stored these seasonal ingredients, they would be wonderful months later if I used them in an appropriate dish. Fresh huckleberries in late September make for one of the world’s most delicious pies. Yet frozen huckleberries pulled out of the freezer in late February make a delicious fruit compote to accompany wild game.

One of my employees feeds me a supply of venison and elk. He had given some elk loin steaks from the 2007 Fall hunt that I had sealed in a foodsaver bag and put in the freezer. This particular animal was harvested from the Blue mountains of Eastern, Oregon.

The elk had a very hearty, beefy flavor-not a hint of gaminess. In fact, I’ve eaten farm-raised elk that had a more disctinctive game flavor. Of course, wild animals aren’t fed with care by man and as a result, the meat wasn’t as tender as one would find with a beef loin steak.

I marinated the elk with juniper berries, black peppercorns, dried thyme and sage. I ground the juniper berries and peppercorns in a spice grinder and then added the dried herbs. This was the last of my black peppercorns.


The elk steaks marinating in aromatics, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.


I was at a loss for the side dishes to serve with the elk. My original thought was to use some frozen peas-possibly a pea puree garnished with dried shallots. I was focusing on the green color of the peas to enhance the color of the dish and then I realized that while color was important, flavor was more important. So I scanned the refrigerator and sitting in the back was a jar of a classic condiment for wild game-red cabbage.


It wasn’t hard to decide on a sauce for the elk. Peter the Eater had asked on these pages about whether or not I would be using some huckleberries during my challenge week. I had all but forgotten my huckleberries up to that point. They are so rare, expensive and precious, I think I only thought of using them for a special occasion later in the year.

This past Fall I purchased two gallons of freshly picked huckleberries. The price this past season was a reasonable $40 per gallon. That price point may shock you, but huckleberries only grow wild and must be picked by hand.

The actual growing season runs from mid-July through the end of September, but the window for the peak flavor of the berries is typically only about 10 days in mid-September. The pickers must compete with bears for every last berry. So you can understand why they are so expensive.

These berries were picked on Mount Spokane, about 30 miles from my home.

Nothing compares to a wild huckleberry, and no other berry is a more appropriate accompaniment to wild game. My Northwest themed menu of locally-sourced products was starting to take shape-Seared Loin of Elk, (Oregon), served with Huckleberry Compote, (Washington).


The frozen berries must be thawed, but while they thaw, a very tart, yet sweet juice drains from the berries


Have you ever had a “Huckleberry Martini?” I did on Wednesday night. (And I certainly didn't think I would have the ingredients to make a chi-chi cocktail during my challenge week).


The huckleberries would be cooked with wine and spices into a warm compote to serve with the elk. The ingredients for the compote included Pinot Noir from the Erath Vineyards located in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The other ingredients are sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of lemon juice. As you can see, my last, tired lemon is getting wrinkled around the edges.


I created the huckleberry compote recipe when I appeared on the PBS series “MasterChef USA,” back in 2001. The compote was served with vanilla ice cream.

The compote cooks down for about 20 minutes. I added about a tablespoon of cornstarch/water to thicken the compote.


The final side dish for the elk would be “Pommes de Terre Macaire”-a Jacques Pepin recipe that is a classic.

I live just a couple of hours drive from the fields where Washington’s prized Russet potatoes are grown. The potatoes are harvested in the Fall and then stored in cold warehouses. We are lucky to be able to buy these prized, locally-grown potatoes throughout the year without them having to travel from hundreds of miles away.

This dish starts with baking Russet potatoes a day in advance. (I had two potatoes left in the pantry). Cooling the potato overnight in the refrigerator helps the starch to relax and firm up the flesh of the potato.

On day two, you cut the potato in half and scoop out the meat. The potato chunks are then fried in clarified butter, (made from the last of my butter supply).


The seasonings for the potatoes included salt, pre-ground pepper, (I used up the last of my peppercorns in the elk marinade), dried thyme, dried parsley and dried sage.

During the week, I worried that not having fresh herbs would deprive my dishes of flavor. The reverse held true. Like the frozen huckleberries, dried herbs presented a challenge, but only in terms of my creativity. Dried herbs, used in the right recipe, offer a different flavor profile than fresh herbs. After going days without fresh herbs, I have a new appreciation for those bottles sitting in the Spice Islands rack above my stove.


Here is a close-up photo of the finished “Pommes de Terre Macaire”-


I seared the elk in a small amount of olive oil in a hot cast iron pan for three minutes per side.

Loin of Elk, Huckleberry Compote, Red Cabbage, “Pommes de Terre Macaire”-



It would be difficult to prepare a dessert that I could call “Northwest” regional cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. But again I just had to search the cupboards and use my creativity to come up with what would end up being one of the best dishes of my challenge week.

The ingredients for dessert included canned apricots, Tillamook Ice Cream, (from the Tillamook Dairy Cooperative on the Oregon Coast), honey and toasted hazelnuts, (also from Oregon).


I had originally planned to use walnuts in the dessert, but then I found a small container of toasted hazelnuts in the refrigerator left over from holiday baking.

My family sends me bags of Oregon “filberts” every year. I was raised in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which is the home to some of America’s finest “filbert” orchards. (We always called the nuts “filberts.” It wasn’t until the marketing people decided a few years back that the term “hazelnut” would be more attractive to consumers that the old-fashioned term "filber" was thrown out of fashion).


Another kitchen cupboard staple would find its way into dessert-chocolate milk powder.


When I was a kid, a friend of mine used to sprinkle chocolate milk powder on his ice cream. I’ve done it for over 40 years now and it’s delicious-sweet, fine and full of chocolate flavor. I just never used chocolate powder in a “fancy” type of presentation.

I tried to grill the apricot halves to caramelize some of the sugar in the fruit.


Well, that didn’t work because the fruit was swimming in so much syrup it wouldn’t caramelize.

I pulled out the butane torch to get some color on the apricots.


Vanilla Ice Cream with Grilled Apricots, Toasted Hazelnuts and Honey-



I would have added some crumbled bleu cheese on top of the apricots for a savory note, but the last chunk of Rogue Creamery Bleu from Oregon was eaten for lunch on day five of my challenge week.

It was a bit of a surprise this morning when I took a tally of the fresh fruit supply. I was quite surprised to find I had one red apple, one tangelo and one lemon sitting in a basket sitting on an open shelf in the back pantry. I suspect what happened when I thought the fresh fruit had been used. I had apparently gotten past any cravings for a fresh apple, so I didn’t go on a search to find one. It was only after I discovered that apple in the basket this morning that the craving for fresh fruit came back.

The week ended with no fresh greens or vegetables. I did end up with two root vegetables-two Russet potatoes. I have plenty of garlic, yellow and red onions. The dairy case holds four eggs that are past their prime, about half a quart of three-week old milk, no butter or sour cream.

In spite of the lack of fresh products, I have enough food to sustain myself for at least another week. I could honestly do the challenge and go nearly a month without having to shop. A startling realization I would have never guessed would have come true prior to the challenge.

I’ll be adding more thoughts as we go along. Specifically, how this challenge brought back memories of my Grandmother Ross and how she subsisted on a farm for days without going into town to shop-especially during winters in Central Oregon spanning the years from her birth in the 1890’s up to when she acquired modern refrigeration in the 1930’s.

And I reflected back on Aunt Bertie and the wonderful watermelon rind pickles she put up every fall in her home in Twin Falls, Idaho. Those tangy pickles would be just one of the condiments Aunt Bertie would have put on the table when fresh watermelons weren’t available in Southern Idaho.

I’m looking forward to seeing your dishes, and I’ll be interested if you found some of the same challenges and joys I discovered during the week.

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Who's up for another week?

For all you peeps who said a week was easy -- and for those who'd like to save more money -- let's push this Klatsch out to a fortnight.

We invite new participants, as well. If the start of this Klatsch caught you by surprise or at a bad time in your shopping cycle, here's your chance to jump in.

Here are the rules for A Week Without Shopping -- the Overtime Edition:

Rules, heck. There's just new one: you may spend 10% of your weekly grocery budget to top up the fresh food supply -- stuff like milk, eggs, lettuce and the like. For example, if you nomally spend $150 a week on food, you've got a 15-buck allowance to get you through another seven days.

The other rules remain the same:

1 - No stockpiling. We are announcing this today because we want to get some participation and more people read the forums on weekdays. But that doesn't mean you should go out tomorrow and buy double groceries. Please, go about your normal routine but skip your shopping day.

2 - No endangering your children. If you decide to participate in our experiment but you run out of milk for your child, please just go out and buy milk. Don't worry about it. Nobody is going to hold it against you.

3 - No making yourself miserable. If you really need some more lettuce (or a lemon for your Sidecar) in order to make it through the week without going insane, go ahead and get provisions on an as-needed basis. We're not trying to be totally doctrinaire about this. It's supposed to be fun and save us all a little money at a time when we can use it. And it's supposed to prove a point, not cause chaos, despair and profound awkwardness.

4 - If you decide to participate in this experiment, you're making a commitment to chronicle a week's worth of meals starting on whatever day you normally shop. If you decide not to participate directly, please limit your involvement to cooking and menu suggestions and otherwise constructive commentary. This isn't the place to extol the virtues of shopping every day, buying only the freshest ingredients and letting seasonality and local availability guide your consumption.

5 - Have fun, and keep everyone posted on your progress!

Klatsch team


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And has anyone else besides me been making up a shopping list for next week that contains allll the stuff we missed so much and are determined never to run out of again? :biggrin:

I found two pears (in very good shape) in the back of the crisper this morning and almost wept with joy! I will be treating them soooo tenderly tonight!

And I'd just about kill for a cherry tomato right about now.

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