Wednesday, July 8, 2015

pantry raid

There are a few things in my pantry that have fallen out of favor. In the past year, I've decided to keep sugar out of my kitchen. I'm finding it pretty difficult, actually. I enjoy me some sugar now and then, but I figured I can go out for a sweet treat if I really want one.

No sweets at home, (except when some wonderful friend gives us a jar of his Mom's preserved pears!) means baking activities are reduced. That leaves a few odds and ends in the pantry.

I'm not one of those survivalists that keeps 3 years worth of food around. If there is ever a trucking strike, I'm going to be the first one to go hungry. I have some soup stashed in the freezer in case of flu and some cans of tomatoes and anchovies, but in general, the fridge and pantry shelves have a vaguely lonely look to them.

I like to keep the pantry clutter down. Yes, pantry clutter is a thing. You know the stuff. Way in the top back corner of the shelf is something you've been meaning to use up for a few months years. You're not really sure if it's still good, but you keep shuffling it around when you look for the wild rice.

Slowly, I'm finding those things and setting them on the counter, in my way, to use until they are gone. It may mean getting creative with some recipes. The mostly empty tubby of coconut oil I bought in the Bahamas in 2013 sat on the counter for about 3 weeks, but now it's been consumed. I throw a few fennel seeds into dinner a few nights a week, because that jar is labeled 2012.

You've hear of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? And peanut butter and honey sandwiches? Well, we're eating peanut butter and molasses sandwiches, until the jar is empty! I will not waste food if I can help it. Food waste is a huge environmental problem. Wasting food means also wasting the water and energy used to produce and transport that food.

Ah, but the baking supplies. What to do with them? I keep powdered cocoa to make brownies. It's not getting any younger sitting on the baking shelf. What can I make with powdered cocoa that is not brownies?

(I love the internet!) Enter the mole sauce. I found a recipe to tweak and was delighted with the results. I ladled some over some tuna/chard/pinto bean stir-fry last night and it's a keeper.

Mole Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 T olive oil
1 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
1 t cayenne powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
4 c vegetable broth
3 T whole wheat flour
1/4 c powdered cocoa

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-low heat.
2. Add onions, garlic and spices, cover and cook until onion is tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Gradually whisk in vegetable broth and cocoa and increase heat
4. Boil until reduced, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next up: 2 packets of dry milk of unknown vintage. Waffles, anyone? (and yes, I make them without any sugar.)

What's in your pantry? 
Set it out it on the counter, right in front of you, and use it up.