Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I am prepared...

...for the great mustard shortage.
Impending global mustard shortages are the only explanation that I've come up with for the bounty of mustards I found when I cleaned out the cupboard. Pictured above are the members of the un-opened stash. Not in the photograph are the 5 bottles/jars that are already in use and housed in the fridge.

Cleaning out the cupboard was an interesting exercise in self-analysis. I'm still trying to understand the reason why I purchased and stashed away two large jars of capers, 3 cans of green chiles (I don't know what I'd use canned chiles for, much less why I have three cans of them) and enough canned chickpeas to keep us in copious quantities of hummus for at least a month. What particular anxiety disorder can be blamed for compulsively stocking up on weird stuff? It would be one thing if it meant we just have too much food lying about, but in my inventory I also discovered big gaping holes for foods that I consider staples. I was sure there would be two or three cans of Muir Glenn diced tomatoes since I love them and use them all the time. There were none. Nor any tomato sauce. Nor a spare jar of peanut butter. But hey, I can bury any dish in an inch of mustard...

Thankfully the freezer purge was not so disturbing. There was a bag of ancient frozen strawberries and one wrapped piece of mystery meat that were discarded but otherwise, most of the effort was in organizing and inventorying what was in there but hard to find.

I made two check lists, one for the cupboard and one for the freezer items, that I'm going to try and see if I can use to stay on top of what is in the house.
I put down the stuff we often have and then made a column to list how much of it there is. Then I laminated them so I can use a wipe-off pen to log in quantities. And there are blank lines where non-regular items can be listed. Of course, I haven't been grocery shopping since making the lists so the test will be whether I log in the new stuff or just ignore the lists and render them useless.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm taking the cure...

..the Kitchen Cure, that is.

Today I'm cleaning out the canned food cupboard and the freezers. (Surprisingly enough, the fridge isn't too bad. I did a clean out and got rid of the scary stuff in there a couple of months ago and haven't been too bad about checking for mystery containers since then.) The freezer task is particularly necessary because last week I almost lost a toe to a quart of frozen turkey chili that leapt out of the freezer and bounced off my foot when I was digging for buried treasure trying to find something to make for dinner. Ouch. But hey, it got my attention and we ate the chili the next night for dinner.

I like the idea of the Eat This Week list that was posted on the Kitchen Cure blog. I try to menu plan by keeping a list of what I intend to cook in the coming week at the bottom of my shopping list so I don't forget key ingredients when I'm at the store or space out on what recipe I planned to use (before doing this I would spend a lot of time looking quizzically at some weird ingredient I bought but couldn't remember what I planned to do with it: Kate and the endive go head to head.) But this list is a little different because it serves as a reminder of what you already have in the house and what should probably be consumed soon (StillTasty is a good place to look when deciding whether to use or chuck something). I'm thinking of making a version of the list to post on the freezer that inventories what stuff is inside so that I don't have to rummage around (thus saving the toes) and (hopefully) wasting less food and making menu planning a little easier.

For example, tonight I'll be making a version of this Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta because it uses up the pound of shrimp I just found in the freezer (don't know when the hell I bought them or what I originally planned to do with them, but they don't look freezer burned so they can't have been in there that long) and one of the big cans of Muir Glenn diced tomatoes that I have in the cupboard. If I find some frozen artichoke hearts in my excavation, I might chuck some in. There are probably some olives that have been hanging out on the condiment shelf in the fridge a little too long that might get chopped up and scattered over the top. And who knows what else I'll unearth today?

One thing is for sure--I'll be wearing close-toed shoes while attempting the freezer portion of my task.