Our actual, not-made-for-photos pantry, obviously in need of organizing,
and brown lentil pancakes.
Perhaps this is indicative of articles being written far ahead of time, but recent food articles in newspapers don’t seem to reflect the reality that people aren’t going to the store as often, and that stores don’t have the selection they usually do.
My last grocery trip was over 3 weeks ago, and I don’t plan to return for another week or two. I did not enjoy the stress of being at the store or coming home and washing everything. I usually fill our fridge with fresh, colorful produce weekly, but now, aside from a pound of carrots and a half stalk of celery, our fresh produce is long gone. However, I enjoy a good challenge, and we have ample frozen vegetables and a pantry with sufficient staples to produce some interesting meals. We’re a very long way from subsisting on wheat kernels as was chronicled in The Long Winter, or from the limited food choices of many countries in present and past times of war.
Our pantry consists of an old shelving unit from my college days in a small basement closet; it always holds sufficient dried beans, pasta, rice, canned tomato products, and other staples to see us through a snowstorm. It is one of my favorite frugality tools, as it allows me to stock up when there’s a good sale, and saves trips to the store.
Without commuting, I’ve had more time and energy this week to look up some new recipes to try. Here are some of the things that the pantry provided (all made without onions, because those were not available in the store):
Brown lentil pancakes, from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, made by soaking and pureeing lentils into a batter and adding shredded carrot and spices. This is a good cookbook for pantry meals because there are so many options on every recipe, and he generally eliminates non-essential ingredients. We tried these with various condiments that happened to be in our refrigerator and they were good enough to cook again, but we all agreed that we prefer potato pancakes (when stores have potatoes).
Salmon cakes from canned salmon, with barley and frozen green beans. This provided an opportunity to use the barley that I bought some time ago and was the reason for the next meal, using the leftovers. Frozen green beans are okay steamed, but delicious roasted. We always have frozen green beans on hand – they’re a huge time saver and very versatile.
Tortellini soup with carrots and celery and some kale that I had cooked and frozen a couple months ago. Aldi sells dried tortellini that we all enjoy.
Baked Italian arancini, with leftover barley instead of rice, dipped in marinara, and carrot and celery sticks on the side. I used frozen spinach, omitted the Parmesan, and did not roll in breadcrumbs because that’s just too fussy for my kitchen. Everyone liked these, but if I make them again I will add a healthy dose of garlic and oregano.
Black bean burritos, with frozen spinach and corn and a lot of spices… and no onions. Luckily, there’s always salsa in the pantry.
Pasta with sauce and frozen peas, Mari’s standby dinner. I asked her to cook on Friday night so I could take a long post-work walk on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It’s as basic as it gets, but no one here ever complains about pasta for dinner.
I look forward to seeing what the pantry provides next week.
Has your cooking changed during the current situation?