Saturday, March 07, 2015
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Always trying new things
For a long time, I was a typical Midwestern cook. I liked my recipes just the way they were thank you very much. But the more I learned about cooking, I started adding more ingredients here and there. Then both of my children introduced me to new ethnic foods and I can't say as I ever looked back.
I don't try anything very expensive. They are more on the line of inexpensive gourmet foods or "frugal luxuries" as a special friend* calls them. As I've mentioned before, so many ethnic foods I like are not only healthy but inexpensive. Much of it is peasant food or food prepared in the kitchen by mother for supper.
For instance, I once thought French food was always made with expensive ingredients. Then I learned most of the ingredients are usually local and inexpensive. A quote I thought funny was, "You know a country has had numerous wars fought on it when they made snails a delicacy". ;)
This past week, I decided to try Huy Fong Sriracha after reading about it everywhere. I mean, really... this stuff has a huge following and fan club. I didn't try it before because my husband does not (I repeat does NOT) like heat in his food.
But I saw a recipe for hot wings where one simply mixed sriracha and honey and brushed them on the chicken. I decided to give it a try (it is about the same price as ketchup), putting just a small amount of the hot sauce in the honey and mixing well. It was delicious! I brushed it on only the chicken I was eating after it was cooked.
It reminds me of using my once "new to me" seasoning, red pepper flakes, in dishes since you can add just a little for that background heat or a lot if you like hot food. So many Italian cooks used it, I figured it must be good. It has had a permanent place in my spice cabinet for a long time and since I don't use it constantly, I'm pleased to say it holds up well to neglect.
The above photo shows my condiments (except my everyday canola oil and my olive oil) like various vinegars that are fun ways to try something new. The bottle of champagne vinegar came from Target last fall, I'm waiting for delicate Spring salads to make a vinaigrette with it. Hiding in the back is a bottle of balsamic vinegar and a flavored oil (which was given to me).
Tucked behind the champagne vinegar is my most often used rice vinegar and there is the often used apple cider vinegar. I only buy apple cider vinegar with "the mother" and usually Braggs but I think that is Eden Organic hiding in the back. The almond oil shown was also given to me and I use it when making the homemade granola.
I want to try sherry vinegar soon. It is a little more expensive and I can only find real sherry vinegar at the health food store. When I read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist (link on my Amazon Favorites widget), she said she may have a "thing about vinegar". I tend to understand.
I need to go back to the Asian food market where I bought the sumac and just have a look around to see what I can find that is inexpensive but tasty. It is a good way of living on a tight budget and eating well.
Speaking of trying new things... Mr. & Mrs. Christopher stopped by a few nights ago. My daughter-in-law was borrowing some teacups for a party but they arrived bearing a gift. A bag of potato chips. My son asked me to try one of them and see if I could recognize the flavor.
It was a bag of the prize winning flavor from a contest Lay's had for customers to submit flavor ideas. The wasabi ginger submission won. He has eaten enough sushi with me over the years, watching as I added a big heap of pickled ginger and a tiny tip of a spoonful of wasabi to my sushi to know I'd love that flavor combination.
He left the entire bag for me. My husband won't go near it... which is not a bad thing.
So, do you have any suggestions for an inexpensive and unusual condiment or food stuff to try?
*My bloggy friend and author of Frugal Luxuries, Tracey McBride... here.