Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Great Pantry & Larder Challenge

The end is nigh. Well, rather, the end of 2013 is nigh. Which has encouraged me to take a good, hard look at my food stores, and begin to use them. So, I have created a challenge (of sorts) for myself. I will attempt to eat a lot of what is in the house before more grocery trips. As part of this little goal, I will allow myself to purchase the following for the duration:

Organics to You deliveries. Right now, there is no fresh produce coming from the Clementine garden, and one can only eat so many pickles. I will, however, go the "all veggie" route, since I have all sorts of fruit put up.

Eggs. Though my (recently former) housemate Ashia tried to convince me to keep chickens, I have decided that now is not the time. So, I will buy eggs.

Ashia, trying to talk me into cute chickens.
Coffee. I will not deny myself coffee.

Half & half, milk. I drink my coffee creamy, and will allow myself to buy milk to make yogurt and cheese with.

Flour. I found a wicked good no-knead bread recipe, and will make that instead of buying bread.

Condiments. Worcestershire sauce takes something like 26 ingredients. Homemade mayo concerns me. I will buy condiments.

Other than that, I am going to make an effort to reduce the larder. Maybe put together the cheese press. Maybe save some moolah.
If nothing else, I am hoping to learn what to plant next year (though I already know less pickling cucumbers) in order to eat more efficiently. And start planning menus once again. I'll report once I actually start (estimated date 1/1/14, though I plan to practice starting this week).

Bon apetit, and enjoy your week!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Food Preservation As Art

Warning: The post that follows contains explicit photographs of food in jars.

In my never-ending quest to pull myself from old habits, I find that I have been attempting to read more and watch less. The frosty Portland weather of late has been quite the boon to this goal, as my cute little road bike (Skipper) has been awarded an unexpected vacation. While I am perfectly comfortable riding in rain, the thought of skidding sideways on frosty pavement at 7 AM is, quite frankly, unappealing. So, I will be bussing it until my beloved cloudy (and frost-free) mornings return.

All this extra time on public transit allows a great deal of reading time. Pleasure reading time. Which is simply lovely. I have always enjoyed NPR, especially The Salt. Food stuff plus an NPR bent? Yes please.

Recently, I came across an interesting piece about an artist in New York who is making art from preserved (dehydrated) food. This particular gent was impacted by Hurricane Sandy when he ran out of provisions during the storm. Though my reasons for preserving are quite different from those of Tattfoo Tan, I quite enjoy the idea behind the installation. Sad though that he will not (likely) be eating those delightful concoctions.

Though I don't proclaim that my pantry is art, I do take a great deal of pride when I sweep aside the curtain to gaze at my larder. Pickles (so many pickles), diced tomatoes, peach barbeque sauce, jams, tuna canned in oil, and canned fruit are amongst my favorite items. Plus, homemade canned soup (split pea and potato leek ham soups are finishing up in the canner as I type).

Fruits of my labor

Brussels sprout pickles, roasted corn salsa, and lemon pickled cauliflower

So yeah, I think I enjoy this canning thing. Might just keep on doing it. But, for now, it's a chilly, gray Portland day. Think I need some sunshine, and fortunately have some in jars. Off to eat delicious (albeit not totally pretty) peaches.

Peachy happiness in a jar

Bon apetit, and happy preserving (and art creation)!


As is wont to happen on the fourth Thursday in November, I did not trek home to spend the holiday with Iowa kin. For the 12 years I have lived in Oregon, I have been fortunate enough to have spent only a handful of this holiday on my own.

This year, I was lucky. I had several pals who were orphaned on the day for one reason or another. So, we all gathered at a palatial estate in Tualatin to create a true feast. For weeks prior, we all pingponged around a list of what we would bring, and by the few days before the menu was immense (to put it lightly).

Due to working schedules, we supped late, so the hens gathered earlier in the day to cook, cluck, drink wine, and snack.

Around 6, we  assembled at the table. Food, food, so much glorious food! The inevitable Calorie Coma quickly followed. We then forced ourselves to have pie and coffee, and dispersed to our respective domiciles. A lovely day spent with a fantastic group of foodies.

Mau flips the bird

The Shrine of Wine
Bon appetit, and enjoy the holidays!