Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eating the Pantry

A series of rash pronouncements have been made. The first came Friday night after I got home from a big grocery shopping trip. I was astounded at the food already crammed in our pantry and freezer. I said to Matt and the kids, "What if we just don't buy any more food in August? Like nothing except fresh milk and some produce? Let's see if we can eat what's here for three weeks." Matt was like, "Cool." It had the ring of a bold experiment to him. Laura said, "Is my life going to change in any way?" I said, "No, honey, it won't."

Then this morning, Matt took it upon himself to clean out and reorganize the pantry. I know. I walked right up to him in the kitchen and told him how hot he looked. When he was finished, he sought me out and said, "New rule: everything in the pantry must be visible. Nothing can be hiding behind anything else. I have to be able to see all the labels." I was like, now I'm totally Sleeping with the Enemy and I don't think I can swim that far. And he was all, huh? And I told him about the label thing in the movie and he was like, well maybe that guy wasn't all bad.

So I come out to the kitchen and there's a big array of boxes and pouches of food sitting out on the counter, not in the pantry at all, and I'm like, "What's this?" And Matt says that stuff won't fit into the pantry under the New World Order, and that we have to eat it. Not eat the exact stuff on the counter, not before everything else, but we have to eat some combination of the stuff on the counter and the stuff inside the pantry before we can put anymore in there. If we're eating the pantry, he said, this is how we do it.

Rewind: Last night I had pan-fried a couple of steaks. And they were not very satisfactory. I dunno why. I can grill my way around a steak, and I like them cooked on the stove too. But I didn't have the heavy cream and wine to go the whole steak au poivre route, so I improvised a little, and they wound up tasting kind of minute-steaky. Also maybe because they weren't the cut we usually get. But whatever, we had a lot of steak left over and neither of us was excited about it.

So come evening he says, "How do you feel about this steak?" and I was like, what can we do with it that will totally disguise its unlovely flavor? And we briefly discussed stroganoff, but I realized that that sounded gross too. He seized two packets from the Countertop Gallery of Extra Food, and said, "Let's make these instant mashed potatoes and cover the steak with it." And I was like, "What are those and who bought them?" We wound up making a kind of shepherd's pie affair with the steak cut into tiny pieces, frozen peas, shredded cheese, lots of pepper, and a can of cream of mushroom soup (the foundation of Southern cooking as I have learned it), all topped with the mashed potatoes and baked. It was definitely edible. We agreed that it reminded us of when you're a kid and you mix everything on your plate into one big pile. No doubt I will have a contract for a cookbook soon, so look for that.

As we ate, Matt commented that this was way better than the night two weeks from now when we have to eat the box of instant pad thai. Sweet Lord. Seriously, isn't it like there are food items in your house and you have no idea where they came from?

***
Eating the Pantry continued at nighttime cocktail hour, when Matt suggested we take drinks up to our bedroom while we put away laundry. I know. He looks hotter by the minute. So I said, "But we're out of vodka." Only I kind of wailed it. No matter, we googled the ingredients on hand, and discovered that indeed, tequila, orange juice, and grenadine make a Tequila Sunrise. I've never had one of these before, and sassy molassey, it's good. Tastes like the polĂ­cia will be showing up soon.

So that's what's on the menu here. I'll let you know how we go.

19 comments:

Amy said...

Dang. I am impressed! I think you need to check the back of Matt's neck and make sure there's no alien worm sticking out. You know, like that Star Trek episode. Cause, wow--this is a whole new regime! :)

In all fairness to you though, your pantry is on the smallish side, so I can see how you'd "lose" stuff in there.

The Dental Maven said...

Girl, you better bookmark "foodnetwork.com" You'll be needing it.

Good Luck!

Michele said...

We eat out of our pantry all the time. It just requires a bit of creativity especially there at the end. Let me know if you need any help.

Bex said...

LOVE the julia roberts ref!

bad steak = fajitas. why? because you can cover it up with scorching hot salsa.

i have a very old can of coconut milk in my pantry. what would you do with that?

cream of -anything- soup. sounds like the makings of a casserole (why do casseroles always get knocked? they are so delish / comfort foody).

Ginny Marie said...

Shepherd's pie! Great idea for that steak. The recipe I have calls for Worcestershire sauce, which adds a nice little kick.

My husband would have totally not gotten the Sleeping with the Enemy reference, either. But then he also would never take it upon himself to organize the pantry, either!

Maggie said...

Great entry.I thought it was too funny that Laura wanted to know if this pantry thing would change her life.

Sjn said...

I cleaned my pantry awhile back, in a fit of organizing when Grad Girl moved back home. See here:
http://countryclublivin.blogspot.com/2009/07/its-about-time-for-spring-cleaning.html
Once a week I go thru the fridge too and purge what's not fresh. I feel so much better about food now. I don't buy as much or keep as much, and believe it or not we never go hungry!

alicesworld said...

I do this "eating from the pantry" thing about every 4th week of the month, when my grocery budget runs out. But what you cooked up is FAR more impressive than my cereal for dinner.....

Carrie said...

Reading this made me realize exactly why I have to do EVERYTHING at my house. If Epu decided to reorganize the cupboards I would evict him. That's my workspace, and I can't have him all up in my space like that.

Jane said...

That's a good idea. I'd like to do it too, but that would mean I'd have to eat that beef teriyaki in a can that Mark couldn't resist buying.

Cassie said...

Cracking up at Laura's question!

I've been wanting to do the pantry thing lately too... growing up we used to call it "Mom's Place".

Will you please post more of these recipes as you invent them? Especially those involving Cream of Mushroom soup, because I have a pantry full myself and also, yum.

Amy said...

Hey! I was thinking last night as I was falling asleep (cause i like to think about your pantry while going to bed), you should post some of the ingredients on here and see who can come up with the best recipe. It takes a virtual village to make dinner--that kind of thing.

Just thinkin'.

kathy said...

We've done something similar in that we've agreed to stay out of the grocery store. We agreed to a once a week grocery store visit. It seemed we were running to the store every couple of days to pick up small items. So the idea is to use something else in the place of the ingredient you suddenly need from the store. If we run out of items, we wait until store day before we replenish them.

Coffee with Cathy said...

Those use-everything-up-before-we-buy-more household efforts are so satisfying and inspiring -- after they're over and you've survived and are reminiscing over blackened salmon and two bottles of wine at your favorite fancy restaurant.

Keely said...

Yeah, we're starting to get there too. We're awfully lazy and live mainly off convenience food, but I continue to stock our pantry like we don't. So...I guess we're well-prepared in the event of an apocalypse?

delaine said...

You go girl ! It's a noble cause. And cleaning out the pantry decreases the likelihood that one of you will be struck by falling Easy Mac or Organic Peanut Butter. My hat's off to you.

Jenni said...

i think we are going to do this as well. it's a great idea.

bsouth said...

Please can I come to your house for tea? The shepherd's pie sounds fab and as for tequila sunrise while putting away washing - I'm blown away!

Sara said...

Good job on the Sheppard's Pie! Edible is good. ;)
Sometimes I look at the pathetic leftover concoctions we end up with and almost get embarrassed. It's like, how did we get to this as a final result?
Fortunately, my kids don't really balk at much. They're usually just happy to eat.
I'm definitely with you on the eating what you have before you buy more. It's simpler and cheaper.

I'll admit though, sometimes there are things that even I won't eat. And I've forced down a lot of gross stuff for the sake of not wasting.

I like Amy's idea! Pantry Challenge!