Tag Archives: Eat From The Larder Challenge

Eat From the Larder 2016 – Week Four (+ Month-End) Wrap-Up

Happy Beltane!
Unlike in previous years, I haven’t been celebrating by going out and stocking up on dry goods and not-so-dry goods from the grocery store just yet. Why? Because we still have tonnes of food. As such, I’m trying to hold off on the restock until I’m ready to do the Big Shop wherein I also buy half a dozen bags of soil from the grocery store garden centre (I’ll be getting thingd delivered anyway, so why not get a LOT of groceries at the same time?)
 
As I alluded to in my Week Three post, there wasn’t a whole lot of Eating from the Larder happening during Week Four. I bought popsicles. I bought a burito. My wife and one of her other partners and I went out for pizza and gelato because it was sunny out. I also used on-hand root veggies, the last of the winter squash (which I bought in October, y’all – Butternuts are AMAZING keepers), a variety of frozen veggies, a few tins of beans, a little dried fruit, and some home-jarred tomato products to make dinners on other evenings. Stew featuring a mix of meat and legumes + a mix of veggies and occasional fruits (and anything I can add to impart a smokey flavour – NOM!) will continue to be a Thing in our household. I used left-over pork ragu mixed with leftover burrito filling and some extra pre-cooked black beans + rice to make a super-fast, marvelously tasty stew last night (technically May, I realize).
 
One thing I’ve noticed (or haven’t noticed) this year is that, unlike last year, there’s not a significant rise in bank savings over the course of the month. Part of that is that I’ve been temping for three months (and covering 100% of the rent for a significant portion of that – though not for May) so the money levels are different from what I’m used to looking at. The other reason, though, is that we’ve been eating from the larder, in a fairly significant way (though not as big a way as during April) for most of the past year. Either getting the majority of our veggies from the garden (the rhubarb and Vietnamese garlic are up alrady, fyi, with the strawberries and sage coming along on their heels) during Summer and autumn, or else using home-jarred and home-frozen stuff over the winter. Our meat (aka: Francis the Pig) arrived, for the most part, a year ago and, even though I’ve also bought turkey, beef, duck, fish, and chicken occasionally through the past year, our groceries were paid for “up-front” in a way that they never had been before. Given how tight our budget has been since last Summer, when my lovely wife started up the Ottawa Leather Works and stopped (for the most part) working outside of her own business, I have to say a big Halleluiah for that one, since I know our usual grocery bill, pre-garden, would have been around $200/month and, instead, we’ve been able to put that towards heating bills and similar.
 
Take-aways from this year’s Challenge:
1) Praise the garden (and the forethought that goes into all that canning)!
2) Variety remains the spice of life
3) Make more salsa[1]
4) Baking bread in triple-batches and freezing 2/3 might be a good practice to get into. A lot of the bread went moldy (this is a common problem), and I’d like to avoid that happening in future, but also it’s a big help to have pre-made bread on hand when you run out and (a) the kitchen is a filthy mess with no counter-space, and/or (b) you are sick and trying to avoid spending effort on anything but getting well again.
5) Ditto for freezing stuff like waffles[2], pancakes, muffins, savoury scones, and other snacky baked goods.
6) We are still eating about a pound of cooking cheddar per week. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
 
So there you have it. The Eat from the Larder Challenge is over for 2016. Sit tight, as the garden-garden-garden posts will be starting up in short order.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maide
 
 
[1] Strictly speaking, I make limitted amounts of this due to there being someone in the family with allergies to peppers and pepper-derived spices, BUT said person lives in Toronto at this point, and so isn’t around as often as she used to be. Next summer, I will (probably) make more tomato-peach salsa and (slightly) fewer jars of herb-infused crushed tomatoes (plain crushed tomatoes, on the other hand, remain a major staple).
 
[2] I love waffles, but our waffle-iron has a teflon coating, and that will kill our little birds very quickly if it gets too hot. I would really like to replace our waffle iron with one that has real, cast-iron plates. (Or, y’know, just replace the plates on the one we’ve already got. That would be even better!)

Eat From the Larder 2016 – Week Three Wrap-Up

The short version is: I got sick towards the end of Week Three.
 
Plus Side: I made one hell of a “Morroccan” pork ragu (er… sort of) using left-over roast pork + a pint of tomato-peach salsa + frozen greens + frozen winter squash + rice. You guys, it was SO GOOD (and SO EASY!)
 
Minus Side: There’s been a lot of junk food this week. A lot of rading my personal stash of fancy-organic-fair-trade-chocolate in the freezer, a lot of “Oh, hey, I forgot I had this cherry licorice lying around” on nights when my lovely wife was out for the evening and was “cooking” for one, a week of gifted food and breakfasts out, and I basically hit the Fuck-Its on Sunday. I mean, I spent the day in bed, editing my friend’s book, and seriously longing for a popsicle, and then basically slept for 12 hours.
I’m honestly looking down the paltry four-and-a-bit days remaining on this challenge, and just saying “Screw Everything, I still want that popsicle”.
 
Which doesn’t mean that I’m not still using on-hand (jarred and frozen) meat, fruit, and veggies + on-hand dry-goods to make meals, it just means we bought a loaf of bread on Sunday, and I bought those damn popsicles earlier today. And ate, like, four of them on the way home. My raw, feverish throat has informed me that nothing on earth has ever tasted so good.
None the less, it’s not like I couldn’t have *made* popsicles with the yoghurt in the fridge, fake vanilla in the cupboard, and frozen OJ in the freezer – and/or a jar of nectarine jam (for example). I just didn’t bother. (Which would be the kicker. The point of this exercise – in addition to the main goal of using up as many preserves as possible – is to bother). I maaay be feeling a little bad about that at the moment. >.>
 
Anyway. That’s my (very short) wrap-up for Week Three. Week Four’s wrap-up will be combined with the end-of-the-month summary, most likely.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat from the Larder 2016 – Week Two Wrap-Up

Saturday night, C was in town and came for dinner. It was nice to have time together, all three of us, again. I sent her home with a care package, and part of me is thanking my forethought when I was doing All The Canning back in August-September-October, because I was doing it with the food-needs of three people in mind, rather than “two plus occasional extras”. I admit that I’m proud to be able to hand off a couple of big bags of groceries (for one person, admittedly) and still have plenty left for in-house use, before any re-stocking needs to happen. Turns out, that’s something I want to be able to do at any time of year, which is good to know.
 
In other news: The rhubarb is up (barely – and only one bunch, the two from Ghost’s Dad may or may not have survived the winter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though, as they were kept pretty shaded until yesterday) and the Vietnamese garlic is up, too! Along with a few early dandelions and the beginnings of what might develope into this year’s crop of rappini (waaaaay too young to be harvested yet, but hey).
Tonight’s dinner (which I should brobably get going on) will most likely be a stir-fry of frozen greens, frozen zucchini, roast pork, and some carefully snipped bits of the above-mentioned garlic-greens, served over rice.
 
I’m about to run out of cream, so will probably pick some of that (or milk) up tomorrow (along with a few pharmacy items that are definitely on the Necessities list), but I’ve been making it (and the eggs) stretch quite nicely by opting for vegan baked goods, of-which there have been many. I made a tripple-batch of almond-mocha-apricot Wacky Cake (2 dozen cupcakes + a small tray of cake to slice into squares) yesterday, as an example. Also, I totally made crackers from scratch and, even though they’re ridonkulously easy to make, I’m completely chuffed that I Made Them Myself.
Go me. 🙂
 
Possibly because I’m still re-stocking eggs and milk, and possibly because we are still eating out on occasion, this doesn’t feel difficult at all. I mean, yes, I’m definitely hunting up recipes that call for crushed tomatoes and diced pork as the main ingredients (this is translating into All The Ragu, All The Time, fyi), because I have lots of both to use up (hint: Green tomato chutney is a good addition to an improvised Lu Rou Fan type dish). But things have, so far, been going really smoothly. The jars on my shelves are slowly emptying, and it should be super easy to clean the fridge on April 30th (Note to Self: Make something with parsnips sooner rather than later).
 
Anyway. That’s my wrap-up for Week Two. Onwards to Week Three! 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat from the Larder 2016 – What to Do With Green Tomato Chutney

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I made a lot of green tomato chutney last October, when the frost knocked my tomato plants down, and now I’m not sure what to do with it.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s working out great as a sandwich spread (I’m about to make myself yet another roast pork sandwich with grainy mustard and GTC), and the sweet-spicy-tangy-umami mix of apples, mustard, vinegar, and tomatoes doesn’t hurt as an addition to lentil stew or some kind of bean-based dip.
The thing is, sandwiches don’t take more than a teaspoon of chutney each, and even a large stew isn’t going to need more than half a cup of chutney thrown in if it’s being used as a seasoning.
The sugar content makes me wonder if it would work as a stew-base, or if it would just be too sweet, but… I’m still hoping to re-jig a few recipes (like the following) in order to use up a couple of pint-jars of green tomato chutney (maybe with some crushed tomatoes thrown in as well).
 
Green Tomato Stew AKA Tomato Kootu
Thakali Masiyal
Green Tomato Pork Stew
Curry In A Hurry (also ft broccoli and sweet potatoes)
Green Tomato & French Lenils Soup
 
Wish me luck!

Eat From the Larder 2016 -Week One Wrap-Up

So far, so many meals out.
Or things along those lines, anyway. I got gifted a couple of slices of super-fancy cake on Tuesday night, and both of us have had breakfast out at least twice this week. Yesterday’s Queering Power activities included a pot-luck lunch (I made mint-chocolate-cherry cupcakes based on the Wacky Cake recipe found in How It All Vegan, thus conserving eggs and milk, so go me) but also a dinner out with a bunch of out-of-town friends. I regret nothing. 🙂
 
Beyond that, I’ve been using up perishable (or more-perishable, at any rate) veggies this week, because: priorities. So there’s been a chickpea-cauliflower curry (we have left-overs for lunch tomorrow) and a lentil-quinoa stew inspired by ratatouille (pre-sliced mushrooms, frozen golden zucchini, frozen eggplant, green tomato chutney (half a cup – I still have so muchof this stuff lying around) a cup of jarred tomatoes, and a handleful crumbled tomato-chips, plus lots of parmasan cheese on top. I also did a (really delicious) sausage-potato-beets dish with pumpkin seeds and bacon[1] (two kinds of pork in one dish, and one of them wasn’t lard! I feel so decadent!) on Thursday and a pasta with tinned salmon, mushrooms, onions, and alfredo sauce for unexpected company on Wednesday.
 
I’m running low on (meaning running out of) mayonaise, which I hadn’t expected, so the tuna sandwiches I made the other day maybe the last I make until May. Or maybe I try my hand at making home-made mayo. We’ll see. I’m also (having used half a cup of it in the cupcakes this weekend) running low of cocoa powder and rotini. Not that I don’t have other options, but it’s something to be aware of, particularly the pasta since I tend to rely on that stuff for quick-and-easy dinners.
 
I have fancy cheese and paté in the fridge, but need to make some crackers before we can get on with enjoying those lovely items. Also to make: bread (for toast and for cheese sandwiches), muffins or similar (for breakfasts, snacks, and similar- thinking I’ll do pumpkin-apricot-chocolate-chip with a little bit of almond flour worked into the mix, but we’ll see what I come up with.
 
I’ve got a shoulder roast (or possibly an uncured ham) in the oven, roasting with potatoes, onions, butternut squash, and a little bit of white wine, which will do us for a spiffy dinner tonight (and probably several more times this week – it’s a huge roast, by my standards – done as a stir-fry with reconstituted dried mushrooms + frozen greens; dice and tossed with oregano, garlic and jarred, roasted tomatoes over (more) rice; sliced onto sandwiches (possibly with apple butter, possibly with green tomato chutney); or thrown into a stew with black beans, and either salsa or a mix of crushed tomatoes, diced onions, and dried apricots).
 
I’ve got family coming down from Toronto to visit this coming weekend (it’s C’s anniversary with Ghost – and would have been ours as well, but that’s life for you) and I’m hoping to send her home with a (raw, frozen) roast or two, plus some more preserves (I admit, I wonder if she’s getting sick of tomato sauce, but you give what you’ve got, so there we go). I fully expect us to go through both of those packages of paté this week – one with C, and the other (along with a lingering wedge of fancy cheese!) when a heart-sick friend comes by for tea/wine and a friendly ear later this week.
 
Going over old Eat From the Larder posts, it’s amazing how much I remember events by the food that we had. I remember who brought the ice cream and the super-spiffy balsamic vinegar (I ration that stuff like butter in WW2, you guys). I remember who brought the box of fancy cookies, and what went down during that less-than-fantastic visit.
In theory, this is the point where eating strictly (even for my not-very-strict version of “strictly”) from the larder starts getting hard. The fresh veggies dwindle, the eggs run out, you have to plan snack-food and make stuff from scratch that you’d usually buy pre-made (crackers and pasta come to mind for me). Let’s see how this goes. 🙂

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2016 – Pre-Game Show

It’s April First! Which means this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge has officially begun!
 
Basically, this is something I started doing a couple of years ago and have decided to try and keep up with every year. The idea is that we spend April using up the past year’s pantry staples and preserves so that there’s space in the larder for when the fresh produce (and, thense, new preserves) start showing up in the not-too-distant future. In the case of Erica, who started the whole thing (see link, above), she’s in Pacific Northwest of the USA, so her growing season starts a solid month, sometimes more, ahead of mine. So I’m not expecting fresh greens to go with my frozen eggplant and crushed tomatoes. But I still like the idea of it.
 
One thing I’ve noticed myself doing (this year, but also last year) is, well… hoarding my preserves for April. Part of that is just that fresh produce – even when its all root veggies plus cabbage, maybe some winter squash, mushrooms and increasing bruised apples – are preferable to stuff in jars. Remoulade, beet salad, and apple-cabbage slaw bring crunch and (sometimes) colour to a winter table that, otherwise, would be heavy on the browns and beiges (meat, grain, legumes, yoghurt) and low on texture that wasn’t soft. The other part is just… I don’t want to run out. It’s less of an issue these days – I have an income quilt, such as it is, and so does my lovely wife – but I’ve had enough months of unemployment, enough years of on-again-off-again contract work, in the not-so-distant past that the thought of running out of food is still something that preys on my mind, even when I can look at the vast quantities of dried, frozen, and jarred/tinned foods (veggies, fruits, meat, grains, legumes, nuts, mushrooms, herbs & spices, even powdered milk) I keep on hand and know that it won’t happen. So there are a lot of preserves that I haven’t used yet. Lots of jarred (and dried) tomatoes & green tomato chutney[1], lots of frozen eggplant (I’m foreseeing at least one round of ratatouille – or something like it: diced eggplant, chopped onion, reconstituted dried mushrooms, red lentils and red quinoa tossed with a pint of crushed tomatoes & dried herbs, and baked in a skillet under a heap of parmasan cheese – in our future, maybe tonight). Lots of pork from Francis the Pig that we haven’t eaten yet. Lots (ish) of tinned tuna. Lots of flour and yeast and cooking oil.
 
It feels almost like cheating to be this prepared. And yet part of the point of this is to take what you’ve got, get creative, and keep churning out meals when you can’t just swing by the grocery store and pick up turkey legs that aren’t frozen solid.
 
My own rules for this challenge include:
It’s okay to buy: milk, eggs, coffee, tea, wine and junk food.
BUT: Try not to.
Use the jam and the fruit butters to replace both the sugar and some/all fo the eggs in the baking recipes. Drink the raspberry thriller tea in order to conserve the cream in the fridge. Make cakes, cookies, and muffins, instead of buying chocolates or ice cream for dessert.
It’s okay to stock up beforehand IF things are on sale – so, just before Easter Weekend, the grocery store was clearing out as much as it could, and cheese was on for $4/lb. As such, we could now go through a pound of cheese every week, and still have extra by the time Beltane rolls around.
 
But when we’re out of butter, we’re out of butter. When we’re out of crackers, I need to learn how to make them from scratch (finally – how hard can it be?[2]). Pot-luck dishes cannot be picked up, last minute, from a store on the way to the event. If I forget to plan ahead, and thaw out some pork chops (or similar), even on a Friday, I need to rely on the tinned tuna, sausages, frozen fish, or legumes that I’ve got on hand and use my creativity to make something Fancy with what’s available.
 
As with previous years, you can follow along using the Eat From the Larder Challenge tag, and I’ll make a once-a-week post talking about how the month is going.
Wish me luck! 🙂
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I made a LOT of green tomato chutney last October, and we’ve eaten absolutely none of it. Unlike August’s chokecherry chutney, which I LOVE and will absolutely be making again, I keep giving my GTC the side-eye and wondering if it will actually taste good, or if it’ll just be so much over-sweet, not-quite-right Glop that never works with anything. Some of it will go in that ratatouille – why not – but some of it was supposed to get poured over a pork roast and… I worry that it will make everything Too Sweet. And this is the time of year when I find that out. :-\
 
[2] Famous last words… 😉

Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Five (Month-End) Wrap-Up

Happy Beltane! (My Solstice decorations are still up… ye gods, I can’t even…)
 
So I made a bank deposit the other day (like a motherfucking adult, no less) and was astonished to see how much money was in there. I mean, it’s not a lot. It’s pretty-much never a lot. But it was more than I expected and (slightly) more than I need to have in there two days before the rent is due, and it was quite a pleasant surprise.
Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is that I got an extra two-and-a-half days of temp work this month, which I hadn’t originally been expecting. The other reason, though, is that we didn’t buy any[1] groceries this month. What normally would have eaten (literally! Ha!) about $200+ of our monthly budget has, instead, consumed only about a tenth of that amount. And even that had more to do with vacation snacks than anything else. It makes a pretty massive difference, and the potential (potential, don’t jinx it) cash-saving influence of having a vegetable garden is starting to dance pretty emphatically in my head, even as I’m watering my recently-seeded garden beds and hoping for the peas, chard, and kale to germinate and thrive.
 
My “Celebrate Beltane With Groceries” list, this year, is muuuuuuuuuch shorter than it was last year: Just yoghurt, yeast, tea, and eggs[2]. And maybe (oh, the slippery slope) some whole wheat flour & apple juice if I’m feeling particularly extravagant. [EDIT: What I actually bought, go figure, was half a dozen Fancy Things from the Seed To Sausage shop on the corner, yoghurt, eggs, two bottles of juice, and a box of crackers. Because… Guests? Delicious food? Because I can? Probably that last one. But anyway. Yeast and tea and whole wheat flour (if needed) will happen next week, and that’ll be fine. /EDIT]
 
That list might have been (much) longer if we hadn’t been away for a few days (and, because of (mostly, but not entirely) that, bought a bunch of stuff[3]), but it might have worked out that way anyway. I’ve got enough frozen veggies (a few greens, a bag of snap beans, some edamame, and lots of eggplant), dry beans (mostly black and red lentils), dried mushrooms, quinoa (and other grains, but seriously: quinoa), and bone stock to manage another week of meals (I think) without too much difficulty. I’m glad I don’t have to, because I do miss meat (and eggs – ye gods), in spite of still having a little bit[4] in the freezer. But I could manage it.
 
This year, this exercise has me trying to sort out what I typically spend our grocery money on (meat and cheese are pretty high up there, I suspect, if only because they’re in the $5+/lb category anyway) so that I can find ways to streamline that without (ahaha…) compromising on ethics or hedonism in the bargain.
 
I went into this year’s challenge hoping to (a) not go “stir crazy” on the variety-in-my-diet front, and (b) get rid of the brown rice.
I’m getting there. We’ve got about ¾ of a litre (uncooked) left, plus some already-cooked stuff in the fridge that will probably go into this evening’s dinner.
We’ve still got a few half-cups of jam/jelly/marmalade left, along with a couple of (mostly gifted) one-cup jars of various jams (and a pumpkin butter that I’m straight-up hoarding right now). I’ve got one cup of diced tomatoes and half a dozen or so half-cups of tomato sauce[5], but the main savoury, jarred preserve that I have tonnes of is garlic-dill cucumber pickles.
I’m not worried about this, exactly. We (and one of my wife’s other partners) are investing in a gas grill, so we’ll have plenty of opportunity to set out the pickle jar(s) along with the ketchup and mustard and diced onions (and, gotta hope, the eventual garden-fresh sliced tomatoes) when we do up burgers or sausages-onna-bun for all and sundry. 🙂
But it’s something to be aware of. Usually, I give away 3-5 jars of those pickles as xmas/solstice/hostess gifts, and this year I had to be mindful about things like airport restrictions on liquids in carry-on luggage (both siblings are flying “home for the holidays” now), which meant pint jars (and even 125mL half-cup jars) were right out.
I love pickles, but I don’t necessarily think of them as a snack food every day, and I haven’t yet figured out how to incorporate specifically cucumber pickles into cooked meals the way I’ve already started using, say, chunky asparagus relish in a stir-fry or mildly pickled carrots in a casserole or a braise that needs some brightening up.
Suggestions Welcome, is what I’m saying. 😉
 
Anyway. That’s how Eat From The Larder Month has gone this year.
Take-Aways:
 
1) Variety remains the spice of life (and meals), but curry powder, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and mustard are a big help, too.
 
2) Frozen veggies are a godsend. Also jars of diced tomatoes. Endeavor to put up even more of these this Summer & Autumn.
 
3) We eat a LOT of cheap cooking cheddar. Like almost a pound per week. Zowie. O.O
 
4) I do not want to give up cooking with eggs, but learning how to do so better will probably serve me well in the long run.
 
5) When made correctly (I still don’t know how I did this) bone stock really is basically “meat jello”. I’m still working out how to turn “meat jello” back into a liquid I can cook rice (etc) in, but I’m getting the hang of it. It’s absolutely wonderful for adding umami (among other things) to a dish consisting of mostly lentils and rice, and it, too, is a godsend.
 
Stay tuned for what will be, most likely, an entire summer of ZOMG GARDEN posts. 🙂 I’ll try to work some witchcraft in there, too. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] For a given value of “any” that is probably closer to about “$20, tops”, but still.
 
[2] Which doesn’t mean that I’m going to be immune to the siren-song of any deeply-discounted cuts of moderately-ethical pork, fancy cheese, flavoured tinned tuna, or ice cream that I happen to come across while picking this stuff up. But I’m not straining at the traces, hoping to restock my larder with lentils, flour, and fresh veggies. I’ve actually still got a tonne of frozen veggies in the freezer(s), and I think it would behoove me to keep this going a little bit longer if I can.
 
[3] Including train snacks and, like, close to a dozen meals out, the latter of which has definitely eaten through a bunch of cash, even if we spread the expense of it across three people. I remember noticing, last year, that we ate out quite frequently – or at least more frequently than I was expecting – during the month of April, and not knowing whether that was because we were eating out A Lot to compensate for a distinct lack of variety on the home front, or if I was just noticing it more because I wasn’t routinely buying food at the grocery store as well. I still don’t have an answer for that, though this year, at least, I know damn well that most of our restaurant meals were because we were living in a hotel, in another city. None the less, there’s been a lot of eating out and at least some of it has been due to a failure to plan (the bread or the bacon, or whatever, isn’t thawed out; I didn’t make nearly enough dinner on Tuesday to provide to Leftovers Lunches on Wednesday as well; that kind of thing) on my part leading me to decide that buying a sugary muffin from the temp-job cafeteria and/or a hot sandwich from the down-the-street deli was (slightly) better than subsisting for eight hours on the temp-job’s fancy free coffee.
 
[4] One 3lb roast, one roasting rabbit, a package of sausages, a beef heart + 2 pork kidneys, a sliver of fish, and a package each of lox and bacon. Plus two tins of thai-chili tuna and a tin of salmon, on top of that. Which is actually quite a lot, come to think of it. O.O
 
[5] Our new sweetie has been a regular dinner guest for months, and the tomato sauce includes an ingredient that will send her to the hospital, which is why that particular set of goodies is lingering.

Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Four Wrap-Up

Hey-hey!
So Week Four involved a lot of tinned tuna.
I finally made the red lentil curry that I’d been putting off for, what, a few weeks now.
It worked out quite nicely. 🙂 I think a lot of this week’s meals are going to involve frozen roasted eggplant. I went through the chest freezer (which, at this point, contains mostly bags of frozen bones for soup stock – many of which are actually going to get emptied into my garden beds to be used as a source of slow-release fertilizer – providing the P in “NPK”, in particular) and discovered a package of sausages, a shoulder roast, and my other roasting rabbit. I feel like I’ve stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches!
No, really.
I’d be thrilled if I could use that package of sausages in dinner tonight (it will depend on whether or not they have peppers in them. If they’re Honey-Garlic, we’re in the clear, but otherwise our lovely Archivist won’t be able to eat them, and she’s over for dinner tonight). So we’ll see.
If I can’t, it’ll be tuna-fried-rice with garlic, finely slivered carrots, frozen edamame and green beans, maybe a little onion, and whatever else I can find to throw in there.
 
I keep looking at the contents of my fridge and thinking “Wow… there’s so much still in here!”
 
I mean, yes, I’ve been buying milk at an only slightly slower rate than usual (a gallon every ten days or so, rather than per week), and we’re (almost) out of cheese. But it’s been four weeks, and we’ve still got half a pound of cheddar, plus most of a tin of grated parmesan, so go us. We’re out of eggs – alas, and I do miss them. Pancake breakfasts are getting Interesting – I used a half-cup jar of black currant curd in lieu of eggs on Sunday morning, plus a cup of black currant jelly in lieu of sugar. They were really tasty – which is awesome – but they were also kind of… gummy? in a way that pancakes cooked with even just one “fresh” egg typically aren’t. They went over really well, which is fantastic, but I didn’t personally like the texture. What can you do.
 
Now, we have eaten out a bunch of times, between Week Three and the two restaurant meals we ate this week (or I ate, as the case may be – We went out for burritos, early in the week, and I had dinner with a friend on Friday night before going to Writers’ Fest here in town).
But a reasonably big part of our continuing abundance comes from just having known, from last year, that it’s good to have a LOT of frozen veggies on hand and, thus, making sure to put up (in freezer bags, but also in jars, and also in store-bought frozen stuff) a lot more preserved veggies than I had – or had the space for – last year. Last year, I didn’t have a chest freezer, so I was working with less than half the space I have now for frozen meat and veggies. This year, I’ve been able to do things like stocking up when the Traditionally Raised pork goes on deep discount, or pick up multiple bags of Arctic Garden (who get their harvests from Quebec and Ontario, including Ingersol which is my ancestral farming community) broccoli and similar at a time, rather than getting just one. I’ve been able, too, to plan ahead and put up 9+ large eggplants, half a dozen big bunches of Ontario ruby chard and other greens, and goodness knows how many punds of roma tomatoes (as diced tomatoes, bruschetta mix, tomato-peach salsa, and roasted-garlic-balsamic sauce). It’s been really nice to not need to buy canned tomatoes this year, so I think I did good on that front, even though I have been rationing them jarred tomatoes a little bit.
 
Also, I’m kind of pleased with myself because, yesterday, I went to a grocery store and, rather than buying any groceries at all (this is me “resisting temptation”, folks), I bought bed sheets. Which, fyi, I managed to get for damn close to FREE because I had enough grocery points to cover all but about $8 of the purchase. A fitted queen sheet + matching flat sheet + two pairs of matching pillow cases + two new, not-completely-bargain-basement pillows, for eight freaking dollars. I think I win. 😀
 
So it’s been a good week.
Right now, clearly, I’m looking down the barrel of the last four days of April. I don’t think I’m going to celebrate Beltane by buying groceries this year. At least probably not. We’ll see if our road-trip hostess wants us to bring anything and, if yes, we’ll pick something up if I can’t throw it together with what’s on hand. (And, yes, it is SO nice to have the option of doing that).
I know that I have a heap of drygoods, still, some of which have been around for many months already. The red quinoa, for example, which I’ve hardly made a dent in. But I’m slowly using up the red lentils and the (ye gods) brown rice, which was one of my goals for this year’s challenge. I’ve still got, probably, a good litre-and-a-bit of the rice, though hopefully I can use some of that up this evening. I’m not actually sure that I wll buy brown rice again. I mean, probably yes, at some point, but it won’t be for a while (like potentially a year) and, if I do, it’ll be a small quantity rather than the enormous amounts that I’ve been swimming through for months. I’d rather focus on barley (pot and pearl) and quinoa, I think, as well as black (and red – even though red is feeling a little iffy right now – or green) lentils for my amino acid complements at the moment.
 
My plan for Thursday’s dinner – partially because we’re heading out of town on Beltane, and partly because it will be a celebration of the end of Eat From The Larder Month – is to slow-cook (since I’ll be working an office job) that pork shoulder roast in our crock pot using some fancy balsamic vinegar, the last of our peach-marmalade, our last remaining onion, and the bag of dried peaches that I’ve otherwise not put to much use over the past year. I might also put (some of) the peaches into a peach-currant-coconut cake that will use the creamy-fat part of the the coconut milk (I have half a tin of the stuff in the fridge after the other night’s curry) in lieu of butter, or similar. I think it will be delicious. 🙂
 
Anyway. Four days to go. I look forward to writing the Challange Wrap-Up post (complete with a list of all the things I bought over the course of a month when I was supposed to be not buying anything, ummm…) and making some notes on what I want my larder to include in the future.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Eat from the Larder Challenge 2015 – RECIPE!

Hey. So week four of the Eat From the Larder Challenge is… going. That’s what I’ve got, and I’ll leave the rest for Sunday’s weekly wrap-up post.
My wife and I picked up our sweetie yesterday night at the train station, and I promised I’d make sure there was food on hand because, hey, a five-hour train ride (that got delayed, and was even longer) is no picnic and protein + blood sugar tends to make everything better.
But, of course, this is the month of No Grocery Buying, so I had to take a look at what I actually had available which… wasn’t much.
I mean, yes, I have tonnes of food (still). But our young lady has allergies that mean (a) no cheese, and (b) no hot OR sweet peppers. And the bread I’d originally thought of using had been mostly eaten for breakfast that morning (and the other loaf was still half-frozen in the fridge, where it was thawing). SO. What is a poly punk-domestic to do?
 
What I did was (a) make whole-wheat soda bread dough, (b) make a really awesome tuna salad (see below – it’s a recipe that I modified, but heaven only knows which website I found it on. Something on a wordpress site, conveniently, that I found after googling “tuna and fruit recipe” or similar), and (c) combine the two into something like a Cornish Pastie crossed with a Samosa.
I’m happy to report that it worked! 😀
 
The recipe for the bread dough is, basically, the Stratford Hall Biscuits recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen, so I’m not going to reproduce that here. The filling, however, is as follows:
 
~*~
 
Curried Tuna Salad with Apples
nbsp;
1 (larger-size, not the kind with the peel-off tops) tin of unseasoned, water-packed tuna, drained
1 smallish cortland apple, cored and diced
1/4 C diced onion
1/4 C dried cranberries
3 tbsp mayonaise
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2-3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp tamari
1 tsp grainy mustard (iirc)
1 tsp dried cilantro
 
 
Mash everything together in a bowl (I used a fork for this).
Spoon onto thinly-rolled-out squares of dough (each square should take 2-3 heaping soup-spoonfuls, fyi).
Fold/gather the dough around the filling and pinch it shut. The resulting package should look vaguely like a dim-sum bun, honestly, but ymmv.
Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes (until the bread is golden-brown and smells fully cooked).
Makes about four buns.
 
~*~
 
 
You could use this tuna salad recipe on a cold sandwich, or mix it wish pasta (or quinoa, or couscous, or rice…) for a more filling summer (or winter) caserole.
You could likewise make these packets and fill them with:
Spicy potatoes, greens, cooked lentils, and some kind of coconut/peanut sauce
Steak-onion-kidney-mushroom stew
Hummus, jarred tomatoes, frozen (diced & roasted) eggplant, and dried peaches or apricots
Pulled pork & braised root veggies
Leftover steamed squash (or sweet potatoes), dried cranberries, sauteed mushrooms, and crumbled walnuts (a little wild rice wouldn’t go amiss, either)
…Basically, you want something mooshy & space-taking (whether that’s carbs or protein or both, doesn’t matter), something protein-tastic, something bright (er, meaning acidic), and something to bind everything together and provide a little bit of moisture during the cooking process (but not too much).
 
So. That’s my fancy-schmancy, “look upon my awesome creation” recipe for this year’s Eat From the Larder Challenge. We’ll see if I come up with any others from here on in. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2015 – Week Three Wrap-Up

Why, yes, I did just post the Week Two wrap-up post. Can you tell I’ve had other things to do?
Yeah.
So Week Three involved being out of town for more than half the week. It was my mother-in-law’s 65th birthday (the whole poly-clan went down, and she was delighted to see all of us!) and then my wife and I went to Toronto for the Feminist Porn Awards and to hang out with a lovely friend who will be moving there soon and needed to do some sleuthing for housing and possible jobs. It was a really, really wonderful time and we got to see a bunch of people who we never get to see enough. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
BUT.
What that means in practice, in terms of Eating From The Larder, is that we ate slightly more than half of our meals at restaurants this past week and, of the meals we ate at home, we had things like toast-and-marmite or scrambled eggs or steamed pre-fab dimsum buns instead of Actual Food Made From Scratch.
 
It also means that I bought some groceries. Specifically, I bough a bag of little crispy-bread things[1], two bottles of juice, and two fancy chocolates (dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt, specifically) to take on the train with us and share with our non-boozy friend so that we could all drink a toast together. In retrospect, I didn’t need to buy two bottles of juice, and I could have cut up the bread I’d made and packing it into an empty zip-lock bag (becoming somewhat mythical around here) would have done the trick for most of that. So poor form on my part there. I have no regrets about the chocolate, though.
 
Home-cooked meals have been minimal and have relied heavily on pre-fab stuff:
Rotini with bacon, goat cheese, and jarred tomatoes / tomato sauce.
Rotini (again) with tomato sauce, sausages, and frozen chard.
Toast and egg dishes for breakfast (that’s not going to last – If I’m lucky, I’ve got two eggs left…)
Frozen dim-sum buns
Home-made buns with butter and other spreads.
 
Something that did work out really well was the red-lentil “hummus” that I made for the train ride. I would have liked to bring more than 1C of it on the train (though not being able to do so meant that my lovely wife had a work-lunch already made for this morning). I’ll have to try and remember the recipe – red lentils + bone stock (so not vegan) + raw garlic + sesame oil + soy sauce + heaps of curry powder + nutritional yeast + basil IIRC. I’m quite pleased with it, and will try to make it again (or a vegan version there-of) next time I need to make a pot-luck contribution.
One thing I’m running out of, that I failed to think about going into this, is yeast. Which doesn’t mean I’m in trouble on the bread-making front. I’ve got enough left to make another batch of bread (on my to-do list for today), and even if I didn’t, I’ve made enough bread here in the past six months that I could probably start a sour dough starter in my kitchen without too much trouble (and, hey, maybe that’s my next DIY step, who knows…), even without opening a window on a sunny day. None the less, it’s something I’m noticing.
 
Things I bought this week, which made it an Eat From The Larder “Failure”:
1L wine in a tetrapak
1L apple juice
~1L random juice blend
1 bag of “baked crisps” or whatever they were called
2 chocolate bars
More restaurant meals than I particularly care to count, but let’s say…. seven or eight? Plus a few Train Snacks (coffee, cheese croissants, wine & beer (on the train home), and 3 servings of pringles, iirc).
 
So. That was Week Three.
Week Four should involve getting back on track in terms of creating from-scratch stuff like coconut-curry dal, pan-fried fish cakes (tuna + corn meal and egg, provided I’ve still got an egg – I wonder if I could use mayonaisse as a binder…), salad nicoise (probably omitting the egg in that one), and maybe some kind of light-but-filling fish stew like this one (to use up some of my salsa and stock, among other things).
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.