A few weeks ago it was the height of blackberry season, and the weather felt cold for the first time, and I felt like something dark and rich. So I Googled “crispy duck blackberry sauce”, scanned the details of the top hit and decided it was exactly what I wanted.
Looking for something that could be puréed into a flawlessly creamy mash to contrast with the crispy duck, but could also stand up the strong flavours, I Google “pureed parsnips”, which, even better, showed the me method right in the search results.
I invited over a pair of my most available and enthusiastic gourmand friends, and popped out to the grocery store on my lunch break. I later picked up some of may favourite green beans at the Turkish grocery on the way home. (I bought French beans as an emergency backup. We ended up eating those days later.) I sautéed them very simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Between mixing drinks, and chatting, I manage to plate us up four rather impressive looking servings, if I do say so myself.
Oh. My god. I just discovered the Thai-style dipping sauce, nam chim, when made with habaneros and a ton of cilantro, is an outrageously good sauce that I could imagine eating on basically any kind of meat or vegetables. It’s a gloriously green, intoxicatingly scented, and richly flavoured fresh sauce with a lot of tang.
My CSA farm has a Facebook page for members to share recipes and ideas for how to use up what we get in our basket. Last week we got shiso, so I asked what everyone was making with theirs. The only two members who responded must have thought I meant shishitos because they said they roasted them, pickled them and ate them raw. Hrmph. (In all fairness, they probably get their baskets on a different delivery day and hadn’t gotten any shiso yet, but still…).
Cowpeas, or southern peas, are something I had never heard of until just a couple of years ago. I started seeing them sold fresh at the farmers’ markets and high-end grocery stores, where they go by names like purple hull peas, lady peas or cream peas, depending on the cultivar. Continue reading “Cowpeas”→
Back in January, I decided I wanted to formally track the usage of the items in my pantry. I was feeling like I was a hoarder who had purchased more items than they would actually use. I photographed every item (except for spices and teas and stables). I have blogged about all my usage of these items.
I started with 105 catalogued items. Along the way I have added a few more items, and even replenished some.
So, what did I make?
I made 52 dishes that included my pantry items in half as many weeks:
Dish #1: Thai Green Curry, with gloriously big shrimp
Dish #2: Homemade linguine with yellow arrabbiata
Dish #3: Spicy cold celery salad
Dish #4: Dry-fried green beans
Dish #5: “Szechuan Eggplant”
Dish #6: Rava upma
Dish #7: Indian-spiced eggplant
Dish #8: Silken tofu snack
Dish #9: Seasoned fried cashews
Dish #10: Takeout rotisserie chicken with Toronto-style churrasco chicken sauce
Dish #11: Chopped Greek salad with hard boiled egg
Dish #12: Matcha soba
Dish #13: Vegetable tempura
Dish #14: Spicy mushroom ratatouille on toasts
Dish #15: Challah
Dish #16: Challah French toast
Dish #17: Grilled Greek Salad
Dish #18: Alkaline noodles AKA ramen noodles
Dish #19: Miso ramen
Dish #20: Out-of-season pumpkin pie
Dish #21: Korean pancakes
Dish #22: Salt & pepper shrimp
Dish #23: Dry-fried green beans with Taiwanese rice
Dish #24: Vinegar pie
Dish #25: Sauce gribiche on string beans
Dish #26: Nước chấm
Dish #27: Sesame rice crackers
Dish #28: Thai red curry
Dish #29: Experimental noodles
Dish #30: French toast
Dish #31: Udon
Dish #32: Small-batch brownies
Dish #33: Spicy cold celery salad
Dish #34: Shiitake and cabbage wontons in homemade vegetable broth
Dish #35: Roasted eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper wraps with hummus, caramelized onion, fresh basil, and hot sauce
Dish #36: “Breakfast poutine” with homemade curds and gravy
Dish #37: Sardines on crispbread
Dish #38: Fish curry
Dish #39: Chili oil
Dish #40: Radishes in chili oil
Dish #41: Dry-fried salt & pepper vegetables
Dish #42: Sweet potatoes and rice
Dish #43: Fish curry
Dish #44: Basmati rice with dried lime
Dish #45: Mango pickle
Dish #46: Mustard leaves with paneer
Dish #47: Pandan pudding
Dish #48: Chipotle-glazed pork ribs
Dish #49: Vietnamese sticky rice breakfast with mung beans
Dish #50: Not-cornbread
Dish #51: Chipotle-glazed pork ribs, again
Dish #52: Homemade ravioli with quail egg yolks and blood sausage
So, what items did I use?
From my original pantry of 105 items, plus a few I added along the way, I used pantry 62 items. Here are the 56 items I have photos for, in the order I first used them:
Not pictured, because I added them along the way: mustard oil, asafoetida, oyster sauce, Crazy Bastard hot sauce, cornstarch, raisins. Plus I threw away the cheese culture.
These are the items I used more than three times each:
So, what did not use, yet?
By category, these are the items I still did not use at all in six whole months:
Hrmm. I did use all of these but the Chinese dried chilis at least once in something I improvised, but I think the dish I made was so terrible I didn’t blog about it.
I used everything in this category!
Basically, I need to have people over for a Thai sticky rice meal. For another meal, I could serve a chicken dish, tom ka soup, and a red sticky rice dessert.
Hrmm, okay, so I should find out what to do with the mango powder, at least.
What do I do with this? Make more kimchi?
Oh! I forgot to say that I did use this when I made pickled radishes, and in general, I do find it useful. I managed to use the other items in the category for things like chili oil and Korean pancakes.
Things I put in drinks
Oh! I have used all of these except the Thai pickled limes for drinks. I guess I just never blog about drinks I make.
The peppers turned out to be past due, the beans have been eaten and replaced, and the sardines have been superceded by new sardines and are best before next week, so I’ll put those on the “eat NOW” list.
Just use already
Oh man. I threw away the cheese culture, I made tapioca pudding last week, and other than that … I have no excuses.
Hrmm. No comment.
Staples & Condiments
I’ve actually used six of these, just not in anything blog worthy, or I just forgot. Like, I used the vanilla in pancakes but didn’t mention it. I have used the jasmine as a tea a few times.
Items used: 62 blogged about + 20 others in drinks and casually
Items thrown away: 3
Items catalogued but not yet used: 28
For the next six months, I think it only makes sense to give updates when I use things from the above list of as-yet-unused items. Anything I have not used by December (which seems so far away! I’ll devote myself to using over the holidays. Sounds fun?
At least a year ago, maybe two, I was sitting in a park and I imagined a “pop-up picnic” vendor that would roll up with a cargo bike and sell full picnics complete with a blanket and a bottle of wine. In my fantasy, picnickers would get a tote bag filled with tasty food, plus all the things they’d need to enjoy them, like glasses and cutlery. I realized though that in reality you’d have better luck, financially, if the picnics were pre-ordered, the way one reserves and pre-pays for a supper club. Continue reading “A fully catered picnic”→