Saturday, September 03, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Seasonal menu changes and some recipes

Pumpkin Cookies

Even with warm high temperatures this weekend, it is beginning to look and feel like Fall.  I'm already making some seasonal changes in the kitchen, inspired by the soon-to-be cooler temperatures and the much higher food prices.

I am reaching into my recipe files as well as memories of past meals to stretch the food budget.  As usual, I also like to look at what cooks for generations have made in parts of the world where they had to stretch their food budget... from Italian pasta meals to Mexican bean tortillas to Asian stir fry meals.

The one kind of food group I keep coming back to is what cooks have always made as the temperatures cooled... soups and stews.  I am beyond pleased that it is soup season again, even if I am starting it just a little early but honestly, I tend to start Fall early every year.

I purchased a whole chicken last week (it was on sale, although not the sale price of old) and I decided to change the way I have made it (for years!).  I usually make it by roasting it first, taking off all extra meat, and making soup stock from the carcass.  However, yesterday I put the entire chicken in the stock pot with celery and an onion and then covered it with water.  I slow simmered all of it on medium heat, making certain it didn't lose too much water.

When I went to check it after a few hours, the meat literally fell off the bones.  Since it was slow simmered, it hadn't dried out from the long cooking time. I used a large slotted spoon to remove the breast meat and the thigh meat before adding some more water to the stock pot and simmering it another hour or so before letting it cool and putting the stock pot in the refrigerator.  

The meat was shredded and placed in a bowl with a cover. Some of the chicken was placed in a separate small bowl and mixed with leftover salsa I had in a jar in the refrigerator.  I always keep soft taco shells (and soft burrito size shells) in the bread box so dinner was chicken tacos last night.  They are definitely a keeper and going into my dinner rotation menus.

Tomorrow, some of the chicken is going to be used in a casserole.  There are all kinds of ways to use the rest, from mixing Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce with shredded chicken for pulled chicken sandwiches to putting the leftover chicken back in the soup when I finish it on Sunday or Monday.  Right now, the latter is the option that will probably win out.

We agreed that this will be the way to fix our usual cool/cold weather whole chicken instead of roasting it.  Most of the time... I like to keep my options open when it comes to food and if I am craving roasted vegetables with chicken.

This was stock up week again, August really did seem to fly by!  I have been stretching out the stock up shopping over a week.  Not only to keep from getting too tired but also to give myself plenty of time to think about what we need immediately and what should be priorities for the pantry.  Especially with inflation putting a dent in what I can add to the pantry.

I've learn a lot from Southernprepper1's Boots on the Ground YouTube videos.  (Although I don't watch it every day.) When an item starts being hard to find in most of the country, that is when it gets my attention.   

A lot of people were reporting either no sugar or not much sugar available on the grocery shelves recently.  So, when I did my stock up shopping at Meijer and Aldi, I checked to see what it looked like at each store.  I forgot to look at Kroger.  Aldi did have sugar but less than half as much as usual and their bags are now smaller.  I don't know when that changed since I don't buy cane sugar there.

Meijer only had a few bags of regular cane sugar left on the shelves. Otherwise, the shelves were empty.  If nothing changes, I can see the possibility of sugar shortages come Holiday baking season.  Cane sugar has a very long shelf life if stored in an airtight container so it would be worth stocking up while it is still inexpensive and available.

Since it is just two of us at home and I have to limit carbs, I don't use much regular cane sugar so the ten pounds I bought to "top off" my large Tupperware container early in the year hasn't even been used.  I had added some to my kitchen canister at the same time.  I use the Sugar in the Raw packets for my morning coffee.

I have been thinking ahead to the Holiday baking/cooking season for awhile, purchasing a little extra here and there.  I noticed recently that my baking powder was getting low so I needed to purchase a can.  I can only find the Rumford (non-aluminum) baking powder at Kroger, I bought the last container they had on the shelf this week.  I am sure I can find it or another non-aluminum baking powder at the health food store but it would be more expensive there.

Also, Meijer had the 3-lb bag of King Arthur gluten free flour on sale.  I bought one bag for Holiday baking should I make something for my gluten free family members. Including those who hope to travel here late Fall.  That flour is not cheap but the sale price made it easier to find a place in the food budget.  I do like having gluten free options along with the regular Holiday cookies and breads.

My pantry additions this stock up week were some cans of crushed Red Gold tomatoes. There is still a lot of talk about shortages of tomato products coming after the cans from the last growing season are off the shelves.  I use a lot of canned tomatoes and salsa. 

I bought two cans of Valley Fresh White & Dark Chicken in broth.  I usually do not care for canned chicken but this brand was recommended on a video and I tried, as usual, one can to see if I liked it.  It makes a huge difference in taste having it in broth instead of water.

I only bought three packages of meat last week for the month ahead.  I bought a chuck roast again to use with some beef bones purchased over the summer.  They are in the freezer to make vegetable beef soup when it gets cold.  I bought a small package of chicken breasts for the freezer and the whole chicken I mentioned earlier.  I still have ground beef in the freezer that I purchased half price a couple months ago, should I want to make something with it.

If I can find meat at a good price, I will purchase two or three packages for the freezer but since the cost has gone up so much, I now will purchase a package if I need it for a particular recipe.  We had already been using less meat, preferring recipes where I can stretch it to go farther or using it as "seasoning" to veggie meals.

I've been thinking about the shortages and inflation, knowing that there are a lot of people these days who can not buy any extra at all.  I don't have a deep enough pantry to really help anyone but I have been pondering if there is something I can do a little at a time.

I've decided I can purchase small bags of sugar (like the one or two pound bags) and put some of them back in a safe place should a friend or family member not be able to find any at the stores.  I'm sure there are other items that would be helpful to add over time, as the budget permits.  I have to remember that even small gifts of food and supplies will be very much appreciated by those who need it.

Below are some more pantry-type recipes you may like.  All of these were originally parked on the recipe blog so I am just linking to them to save time.  These are all good Fall recipes.

Oatmeal Cake (my husband's favorite cake that his mom made and now I make for his birthdays)... here.

Pumpkin Bars (these are easy, they feed a crowd, and I make them every Fall)... here.

Pumpkin Cookies (everyone loves these, they used to request them when I worked seasonally at a bookstore)... here.

Easy Pumpkin Muffins (got a box of yellow cake mix and canned pumpkin?)... here.

Indian Fry Bread (this was one of the first recipes posted here, I used to make it a lot when the kids were younger and I needed an inexpensive but delicious snack)... here.

Image:  Plate of pumpkin cookies ready to serve.


Anonymous said...

I also prefer aluminum-free baking powder and it all disappeared from stores in my area about two years ago. I've had to order online, and now I'm back in the hunt again. If you find it, tell me where!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "heads-up" about the sugar. That reminds me, I should get some sprinkles and icing sugar soon for Christmas baking. Seems like the season comes faster every year.

Great idea about the chicken. Remember when stores sold cheaper Utility chickens for soup? They don't seem to anymore.

Jenny said...

Oh I do love soup season. I have a good supply of homemade soup in the freezer & canned soups in the pantry. We too eat a lot of soup in the winter. I rotate a few recipes & as I run low on each kind I make a new batch for the freezer.

I rarely if ever use sugar...maybe two or three times a year? The last time I bought some I bought a pound for $1 at Aldi because they come in sturdy plastic bags with the zip seal so they keep a nice long time.

I'll look through the pumpkin recipes...I am one of those silly pumpkin crazy girls who looks forward to the season so much. I've already had a pumpkin scone & pumpkin spiced latte on Sept. 1st.

Stacy said...

I hadn't heard that about sugar so thanks for letting us know. I made a bean casserole for our Labor Day get-together today. It has 6 types of canned beans and I couldn't find 2 of them at the store...yellow wax beans and butter beans. I noticed a lot more empty spaces on the shelves this week, but I couldn't really say what was missing as it wasn't what I was looking for this week.

Kathy T. said...

A couple years ago, I started buying just the turkey breast for Thanksgiving, as we mostly like white meat turkey. I've been hearing about the supposed upcoming turkey shortage with ridiculous pricing, so I went head and got my turkey already. I'm sure it won't be getting any cheaper!