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Monday, November 19, 2012

kitchen odds & ends

If you home is anything like my home, certain foods fly off the shelves while others tend to linger.
Snack foods usually go first. I was amazed at the quick disappearance of large boxes of granola bars, energy bars, etc. (usually after a Costco trip) until I saw p'tit minou un grabbing five or six for an afternoon snack. Cereal is another item that doesn't stay around long, with the exception of rolled oats, a pantry staple. I tried hard to instill the practice of adding other cereal to oatmeal (think muesli) for texture and flavor, and to make it last longer, but it didn't stick. The boys quickly devour the Kashi Crunch, Grapenuts and what-have-you and then eat plain oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar when it's gone.

Anything that involves cooking and multiple ingredients usually takes a little longer to go. However, this doesn't mean that we have no food in the house, as p'tit minou un once told me--just that we need to prepare it. With mixing, and chopping, and time, and heat. Hmm.

Which brings me to the question of how much food we really do have tucked away in all our kitchen corners. How many meals could I make from ingredients on hand, including fresh, frozen, dry, and canned? Quite a few, I'm guessing. I see the ingredients for both black bean enchiladas and Yumm bowls (if you are unfamiliar with these, it's a bowl of layered brown rice, whole beans, salsa, cheese, olives, veggies, and a delicious, locally made sauce called "Yumm sauce").
I know that there are several containers of soup I made this fall in the freezer, and lots and lots of whole wheat spaghetti and marinara sauce (another Costco trip). We have plenty of flour, rice, sugar, raisins, oats. We are runing low on milk, carrots, bell peppers, apples, and bananas (constantly).

I want to see how I do with using up odds and ends that might otherwise languish in the fridge. For example, after my run yesterday I came home and made lunch. I chopped and sauteed the last few vegetarian sausages with some tofu in olive oil, then added a little soy sauce and brown rice to make fried rice (well received by the minous). Some ingredients we have on hand are not enjoyed by everyone (like greek olives and artichoke hearts), so they lend themselves well to mini-pizzas. P'tit minou deux has cheese and black olives, p'tit minou un the same with the addition of sauce, garlic, and roasted peppers, and Minou and I whatever we feel like.

We are heading into the week of Thanksgiving. This is the first year in many, many years that we haven't celebrated it with my mother--since 1999, when we were living in France. We usually also share the day with Auntie R., a close family friend, who is travelling to be with her daughter and grandson this year. So it will be just our little family, which actually sounds really nice. It will give us a chance, I rashly suggested, to build our own traditions. Just because we always bring the mashed potatoes and tofurkey, doesn't mean we have to have it this year...does it? I was envisioning something like enchiladas, popcorn, and playing a game. Maybe a new tradition of eating odds and ends, and being thankful for having them.

Alas, I was voted down for the non-traditional dinner.  Game playing was well received, hopefully a long match of Settlers of Catan followed by several good movies, but it looks like we (not I! we) will be making pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. If we want to eat them. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, however, I want to try and fix as many good meals as possible with the kitchen odds and ends.

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