Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oops...Day 12 of the Pantry Challenge

 I'm dreaming of spring. This is a yard salad I made last year in the late spring. You know the time...the violets are blooming, the dandelions are young and fresh and brilliant. The chives in the garden are flowering. The chickweed is taking over with the slightest hint of warm weather. Mint leaves, plantain, wild mustard, dock, chicory, grape leaves. All free for the picking and all wildly nutritious.  And it is breathtakingly beautiful as well as tasting amazing. 

  I have been very busy and very tired these past several days. Twice I started to write and fell asleep at the keyboard.  The weather keeps yakking back and forth between spring and winter (70's one day, 30 the next). The chickens laying schedule is all willy nilly.  None of us seem to know what to do. lol  I have been on the run a lot and that's all the excuses I have for now.   

  I have planned our meals and done all my cooking out of the pantry, save the parsley I had to buy to make his birthday supper of aglio y olio --  a glorious pasta dish consisting of angel hair pasta, extra virgin olive oil, thin sliced fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.  It is a delightful dish and it's one of his very favorites.  Served it with a salad, fresh baked soft garlic bread sticks and a cherry pie and he was one happy birthday boy.

  I was trying to think what to write to try to bridge 5 days of absence from here.  Tonight we went out to eat for supper, to our favorite Japanese restaurant called Sakura. It is so good to have a day off cooking now and then ! Let someone else cook for me, for a change.   Since Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year, we decided to celebrate early and beat the rush by going tonight. I had spent most of the day householding...laundry, vacuuming, etc. I was more than ready to change clothes and head north 22 miles for some great food.  We ordered a Miami roll (sushi with smoked salmon, avocado and cream cheese)  and gyoza (which are beautifully delicate pot sticker- like appetizers made in a very thin skin and filled with meat). Himself had the tempura shrimp bento and I had Yakiniku and shrimp hibachi meal.  It was lovely as always. One of our favorite local places to eat. They do not disappoint.

  IN the past days, we have eaten a roast (gifted to me by a friend) with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans from our garden last year. I cooked it all day in the crock pot and it was sumptuous, even though it was a low tier piece of meat. Enough leftovers for one more meal.   Chicken salad that I made with previously cooked and frozen dark meat chicken , celery, onion, dried cranberries, diced apple, sour cream and mayonnaise.  Burgers one night. And a tuna casserole another night.  All from the pantry. 

  Tomorrow I will have to make bread. (I GET to make bread) lol  There are 2 slices left in the breadbox and I vowed to start making bread again as soon as it ran out. Someone in this house is very happy about that. I have about 3 bagel's left too, so later this week I will be making bagels as well. As far as the bread goes, I am still debating whether to make good old fashioned bread bread or do the artisan bread. There is a recipe that makes up to 5 loaves of bread. You mix up the dough and let it rise once and then make a loaf and put the rest in the fridge. It will keep well in there and you can bake a loaf fresh every day or so. I like making thick hearty multi grained artisan breads. I really like eating it too.  I think that for Tuesday I will make a lentil soup and the bread will really be great with that. Hearty and healthy. I made a recipe I found for lentil soup that was made with coconut milk and it was rich and creamy and incredible. I remember when I made it I thought--I will never make lentils any other way again !  The friend that gifted me the roast also gave me about 15 bags of different kinds of beans (and 2 packages of lentils-- I ALWAYS keep lentils in my pantry). At some point when I have a day at home, I will be canning more beans. Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, Great Northerns and red beans. It will be a wonderful addition to my pantry...and basically free. Good source of vitamins and protein, easy to prepare, and a good basis for a large number of recipes. All important things to keep in mind when building your pantry. 

  Alright. I will be back tomorrow. A bread baking tutorial perhaps ? Hmmmm...   BTW--I recently received my charter issue of a new magazine put out by Christopher Kimball. He is a chef from Vermont, always wears a bow tie and started the infamous Cook's Illustrated magazine back in the 80's.  You might know him from the famous America's Test Kitchen. Anyway...the magazine is a beauty...I just subscribed for a year .  Home cooking with an international twist.  

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