Hunger

I love Sunday morning.  It is a time of quiet reflection after a vigorous walk in the neighborhood with Hannah.  Yesterday was no exception.  I sat in my comfortable chair and thought, “What am I going to have to eat today?”  Yes, I have a slight food obsession.  As I reflected on this topic, I went to the kitchen to check out my options.  And realized that my cupboards are full of stuff. 

This might not seem like such a big deal, except I went on a 21 Day Fast in January and didn’t buy groceries for the entire month – that’s 31 days, vowing to eat what I had instead of making weekly (and sometimes daily) trips to the grocery store for this or that. 

Here’s what I have on hand, in no particular order:

Quinoa, red and white (because you need both colors, right?)

Lentils, brown and French green (apparently I needed the fancy French green ones?)

Flour

Sugar

Brown sugar

Honey

Crystallized ginger (for the world’s best ginger cookies)

Chocolate chips (in case I want to make some truffles)

Cacao

Barley

Dried beans

Ginger tea

Faro

Oatmeal

Olive oil

Tuscan herb olive oil

Four kids of crackers

Strawberry jam

Popcorn (lots and lots of popcorn)

Breadcrumbs

Kosher salt

Pasta

Tuna

Lemon juice

Vinegar

Red wine vinegar

White wine vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Cranberry pear, Meyer lemon, and raspberry vinegars (what is with all the vinegar?)

Cocoa, not to be confused the the earlier entry of cacao

Tahini

Baking powder

Baking soda

Peanut butter

Coconut oil

Sea salt

Vanilla

31 assorted herbs and spices

Butter

Milk

Riesling (to go with the truffles)

Maple syrup

Yogurt

Salsa

Avocado

Flax seeds

Brewers yeast

Eggs

Walnuts

Pecans

Yeast

Cornmeal

Mayo

Catsup

Dijon mustard

Yellow mustard

Lime juice

Soy sauce

Worcestershire sauce

BBQSauce

Garlic

Onions

Potatoes

Carrots

Apples

Molasses

Blueberries

Peaches (I picked 42 pounds last summer for some reason . . . )

Mulberries (there was a huge crop in the backyard this year!)

Whole wheat flour

Wheat germ

Parmesan cheese

3 kinds of cheese

Ice cream

Tomatoes

Peppers

Bananas

Barley flour

Chocolate candy bar

Two whole chickens

Assorted beef

Assorted pork

Corn chips

And a unopened, pristine bag of Lay’s Low Salt Potato chips

Pretty much everything on the list (with the exception of those pristine chips) is either organic or pasture raised, so this is no small investment.  The list doesn’t include foods that I have cooked and stored in the freezer like beans, pesto sauce and chicken, soups and stock.  I have all this in my cupboards and fridge, yet I still went to the grocery store at least once a week this month.  Add to this the fact that I lamented to a coworker on Friday that since I’m alone, I sometimes eat leftovers for three, four, five meals in a row.  Poor, poor me!

I’ve never had to worry much about having enough to eat, even when my kids were at home and I had a much, much smaller income.  I tend to think that people that are hungry are in some far away place, but that’s probably never been true and it’s not true today.  50.1 million Americans struggle to put food on the table and more than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger.  (learn more here

I enjoy growing things and buying from farmers and making delicious, healthy meals.  I don’t think that there’s anything inherently wrong with having food in the freezer or in my cupboards – in fact, I think we should have some things put by in the event of an emergency.  Even so, I think there are changes I need to make.  Do I really need so many varieties of things?  Could I limit my food to what I can grow myself or buy directly from a local farmer?  Would it be the end of the world if I ate the same things week after week after week for the rest of my life?  And if I had a finite list of food, what would be on it?  Could I give up my Lay’s potato chips?  Would I even want to?  Giving up chips is crazy talk! 

It’s time for another grocery store fast – I haven’t been to the grocery store since April 18 so I will try to go a full 30 days. Yikes, I hope I’m not out of some critical item – I should have checked on stock levels before I decided to write all this! As you can see, there’s plenty here to choose from and I will likely post more of my culinary creations, which could get interesting given what I have on hand. But I don’t think I’ll be complaining about eating leftovers any time soon.

Key Ingredients for Quiche

Eggs

I don’t like eggs.  Regardless of how you cook them they are rubbery and they have that unpleasant odor.  At least that’s what I thought until I found a recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for a potato, bacon, and feta frittata that sounded so delicious, I threw caution to the wind and gave it a try.  It was fantastic.  Last fall I took another leap of faith and had a piece of quiche at my son and new daughter-in-law’s post wedding feast.  Wow. 

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Potato, Bacon, and Feta Frittata

  Cheese

Until a few years ago, my cheese consumption was limited to grated cheddar on a salad and the occasional grilled Swiss or cheddar cheese sandwich.  Because I had grown up disliking little orange squares wrapped in cellophane, I hadn’t really given cheese a fair chance.  Now I frequent two of my favorite vendors, Kenny’s Farm House Cheese and the Boulevard Market every chance I get.  I can’t say enough good things about them – if you are in the Tennessee/Kentucky area, get some of Kenny’s cheese at a local Farmer’s Market and if you are in Michigan, go to the Boulevard Market as soon as humanly possible.

Lard

This year I bought a half a pig.  No, it’s not weird for a single person to buy half a pig.  A half a pig that included a large portion of fat.  You may be thinking that this is about the grossest thing you have ever heard.  That’s because you probably haven’t experienced the joy of lard.  Yes, joy.  It took me an entire Saturday afternoon but I cooked up that pig fat until an amazing metamorphoses had occurred.  Lard.

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Jars and Jars of Lard

All three of these things are essential to making a great quiche.  The rest of it is easy – take whatever is on hand and just toss it in there.  Tonight I sauteed peppers and onions and some grated carrot, added some bacon pieces, cheese, poured it in a pie shell and added whisked milk and eggs.  I had a little goat cheese left from some bacon wrapped dates I made earlier in the week so I sprinkled that on top.  The end result was delicious and the added bonus was the cinnamon and sugar cookies I made from the leftover scraps of pie dough.

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Today’s Quiche

I could be bitter from living what could possibly be half of my life not experiencing the culinary delights of eggs, cheese and lard, but instead I choose to rejoice that I can eat copious amounts of them now! 

A Quick Meal After a Long Week

Newsflash – the ants are gone!  I got brave after I posted the other day and scooped out as many as I could with a piece of mail.  They tried to crawl up my arms, but I did the little bug dance and got them off me.  The next day there were just a few and today, none!  Whoohoo!

One of the things I really enjoy doing (when I’m not busy eradicating ants from the mailbox), is cooking.  I like looking at cookbooks and trying new things, but what I really enjoy is looking at what I have in the freezer, fridge and the cupboard and trying to figure out what can go together and create something delicious.  It’s like a science experiment you can eat!

I try to eat seasonally and shop at the Farmer’s Market as much as possible but at this time of year there’s not a lot left in the freezer.  Tonight I found some green, red, and yellow peppers that weren’t too frosty, sauteed them with some onion, added a couple of strips of bacon, a jar of pesto I made last fall, some pasta and a little cream, and voila!  Dinner! 

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It was delicious if I do say so myself and was ready in about 20 minutes.  I also have enough for lunch tomorrow which is a huge bonus!  Sometimes pesto and cream sauce doesn’t heat up that well, (I don’t have a microwave at home) so I’ve found that using a double boiler warms it nicely without causing the sauce to lose it’s creamy consistency.  It also keeps it from burning on the bottom of a saucepan.

If you have a quick and simple meal you like putting together, I’d love to hear about it!