Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A pantry project

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David at Raptitude has another excellent column, and I’ll be following his advice willy-nilly with the move: going through the pantry and cabinets and seeing exactly what I have and what to get rid of (or prioritize to use up). Worse yet, I tend to buy spares…

David writes:

When I assembled my supplies for hiking New Zealand’s Milford Track, I made a miscalculation that’s funny in hindsight but sure wasn’t at the time.

It was a four-day trek, and my food strategy was to keep things small, cheap, and utilitarian. For some reason I decided to base my menu around a sporty-person meal replacement bar called “One Square Meal.” My luxury dinner items were spaghetti and pesto sauce, and I rounded things out with a dense loaf of Danish rye bread and a small jar of peanut butter. I liked the idea of roughing it, rationing what little I had, like some kind of romantic vagabond. Each crumb would be valued and enjoyed.

My mistake was assuming that a single One Square Meal bar would serve as one square meal. Upon reading the label at my first meal stop, I learned that it takes two of these bars to constitute a meal, and that it is not recommended to replace most of your meals with meal replacements.

The hikers I dined with brought the most luxurious trail meals imaginable. They somehow produced steaming bowls of beef bourguignon and chicken teriyaki, taboulis and pilafs, soups, omelettes, fine cheeses and fruit.

On the third day, I was saved when I discovered an unwanted bag of quick oats on the cabin’s “free food” shelf. (Each cabin had one of these shelves, but the others only had salt, pepper, and Marmite.)

I reminisced about that heaven-sent bag of oats just the other day, when I was loading some new groceries into my pantry, and had to cram my own unwanted bag of quick oats on top of some cans to make everything fit.

It made me realize that much of my pantry is filled with perfectly good food that does not seem destined to be eaten. When will I actually use this barley, these yellow lentils, these dried white beans? Why did I buy penne when I already had open bags of rigatoni, fusilli, and miniature shells? What is parboiled rice and why do I have some?

I suspect this happens in every pantry. Food goes in that will never see the table. We might assume we’ll get around to everything in there eventually, but it doesn’t work that way. The favored, high-turnover foods live and work at the front, where they’re easily retrieved and replaced. Meanwhile, an underclass of less charismatic items is always being pushed to the back. These foods are perfectly worthy of becoming meals, but their moment never comes.

A Job For Every Bean

When I realized I was genuinely unsure whether I or my navy beans would be the first to expire of natural causes, I decided to make a plan. My latest experiment is to finally make use of my most neglected foodstuffs.

I emptied the pantry and laid everything out on my kitchen table. I cleaned the empty shelves, and got rid of the few items that appeared to be too far gone: bulk oats that had absorbed the scent of nearby cloves, molasses that had turned tarlike. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 March 2020 at 10:11 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

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