Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

This week I've been pondering the Pantry Lifestyle more as I have been using what I have in my pantry combined with receiving items from a couple food pantries.  It struck me that receiving food from any food pantry is much like a low income version of Chopped.  :)

If you haven't seen Chopped on The Food Channel, the contestants are given a mystery box of food from which they must create a delicious dish.  However easy it may seem to the viewer... it is not in real life.

In both cases, however, the person who succeeds is the one who has a combination of experience and creativity.  Which comes in handy when given food not of their choice.  Having said that... it can also be a fun challenge.

For instance, hubby brought home a pound of polish kielbasa (that was a first) last week.  Half of it went into making lentil soup. The second half of the kielbasa was boiled later in the week with onions, carrots, and potatoes and then a layer of cabbage added on top to be steamed until tender.

Hubby also brought home a restaurant size bag of cole slaw veggies.  I sauteed them in a little veggie oil-butter mixture until they were nicely cooked... two nights in a row.  Once again thinking outside the box as there was no way we could eat a gallon of cole slaw but you know how much veggies like that shrink when you cook them.

Our attitude affects everything, doesn't it?  I have to see using food pantry food as a fun challenge instead of stomping my feet and pouting that I don't have enough income to actually fill a cart in my favorite grocery store.

I went to the food pantry with my husband last month as we had an errand to run on the way home.   I admit to feeling sad when I am there, at times thinking of the years that went to education and hubby's work ethic... why would God allow us at this season of life to be waiting in line with people obviously on drugs (although most people at the food pantries these days are those who had jobs but have hit hard economic times).

Why?  Because we said "use us where you want us".   For some reason, God chose not to heal hubby physically but instead He healed emotionally and spiritually.  My husband is even on a committee to help improve the food pantries in the county. 

There may come a day when your ability to go to the grocery store is limited due to job loss, the affect of a Middle East war on transportation costs in this country (most food travels 1,000+ miles from where it was raised), illness, weather, or a variety of circumstances.  I can assure you it is much better to choose items from your own pantry than one where someone else has chosen the options for you.

As you stock your pantry with what God has provided (with a thankful heart no matter how much or how little is in your kitchen), it may also be fun to give yourself a Chopped challenge once in awhile.

Instead of immediately heading to the grocery store when the larder is low... what creative meal can you put on the table with what you have on hand?  It can be a fun challenge!

This Week at My House

I was dealing with illness and nausea for much of the week so I played hooky with household chores and cooking (there was leftover lentil soup for dinner) on Friday to spend the morning with my friend, Linda.

She sent me home with onions and tomatoes from their garden.  What a gift, if you are a gardener (whose veggies were not destroyed in a drought)... fresh produce is so appreciated by your friends.  Unless they are the Twinkies and Ding Dongs type.  ;)

I added a couple items to my Pantry Wish List this week as I thought of them..

I only use pimentos for potato salad but when I don't have them, the potato salad doesn't taste (or look) the same!  I was reminded of them this week when I realized I no longer had any on the pantry shelves!

I also decided to add garlic infused olive oil to the list (I know Target has it in my area).  I already use lemon infused oil.  It was on the cooking show 5 Ingredient Fix where Claire Robinson said she relies heavily on the infused oils to add flavor to dishes.  What a great idea for the pantry!

Yes... I know you can make your own garlic infused oil and if I ever grow my own garlic (which is the plan), I will definitely do so.  However, it has to be refrigerated.  This is one of those areas when a slightly processed food is better for the pantry (you will rarely hear me say that).  ;)

I read recently that Dr. Weil is teaching old fashioned lard is actually not bad for you as originally assumed.  I haven't had a chance to read further, has anyone else?

It reminds me of coconut oil... we were taught in the early days of the natural food movement to avoid it like the plague because it was solid at room temperature.  Now we know it is actually good for you.

Also, we all know now that butter is easily assimilated by the body and the former "health food" margarine is horrible for you.  (Why is it that I can't write the word assimilated without thinking of the Borg?)

Of course, once I found out chocolate was good for you... all was right with the world.


Rebecca said...

Interesting about the oils....I just returned from the grocery store. I always check the reduced items - both in produce dept. and another rack toward the back. I came home with a can of WALNUT oil. It was 1/2 off. I've never used it before but the label had one recipe for a salad dressing that sounded good. I'll google later to see other possibilities.

Anonymous said...

I had a pantry success this week. I was making chicken fingers the other day and ran out of bread crumbs that I use in coating the chicken.

After a few minutes of thinking, I did some chicken with crushed tortilla chips and some with flour & spices.

Everything got eaten, stale chips were used up & one son said the ones with chips were his new favorite. Gotta love those words!

Thanks for another great post!


Anonymous said...

It can be so frustrating to hear all during one decade that something is bad, bad, BAD for you ... then during the next hear the "nutrition experts" change their minds and decide it is good for you after all (ie. eggs, butter)! I have read a book called What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, by Dr. Rex Russell, that finally gave me peace about these diet "contraditions". As a Christian, I can see the total sense in eating the things that God has given us to be our food, and eating them in their original form (before man messes with them, changes them, and creates something he things would be better - but actually ends up worse! ie. margarine) In this book there is a lot of info. about foods that God tells us to eat (or avoid) taken right from scripture, and since He knows out bodies better than any modern nutrition researcher, I think I will trust His guidelines from now on! (-:

Vee said...

No, I haven't heard that about lard, but I hope that someone will have as there's nothing like an autumn batch of doughnuts fried up in real lard. I don't suppose that's what you had in mind... ;)

"Chopped" sounds like a fun show. Have never seen it.

(Last evening, I took the remaining bits and pieces from the chicken carcass, a stalk of celery, and a chunk of onion and tossed it all into my grandmother's food grinder. It did an amazing job on it and then I added some mild seasonings and a bit of mayo and we had the most scrumptious chicken salad sandwiches ever. My daughter came over as we were munching them and even wanted one. This is unheard of. She said it was delicious, too. I found it a happier option on a hot day than soup.)

I still think you should write a book...

Anonymous said...

I haven't used lard in a long time, mostly because "they" said it was so bad for you. My Mom always used lard for her bread and several cookie recipes, its probably the reason why when I make those recipes they don't taste quite the same. As for health concerns, my parents and grandparents lived into their 80's with few health problems.
I have a young friend who just ordered a cook book using lard..and I'm now rethinking its use also. Now I use butter for most everything, but its not an inexpensive food so lard would be more budget friendly.
Brenda thank you for the pantry suggestions, I enjoy reading them and finding new ideas I can use in my home. Blessings, Marsha

Anonymous said...

There is lard and then there is lard I am told. Many older women that mentor me told me to only buy the lard they sell by the pound in the butcher section. The only lard they would buy is from the chain of grocery stores called Superior which is one of the larger Mexican grocery stores in this area. They said the lard you buy packaged by the major lard manufactures is not the same and not as good for you as that sold at this store. I forget why now though. It was not the texture or such but the quality of it for your body. I will have to ask them again and write back here when I find out why. Naturally lard has to be kept refrigerated. Did the Doctor give any guides for lard usage? I always so enjoy your pantry posts Brenda! Always filled with so much good information and encouragement! Sarah

Anonymous said...

In the winter I sometimes make 'kitchen sink' soup (throw in everything but the kitchen sink :) from whatever's in the fridge. The veggies might go good in that. It freezes well.

Doesn't it drive you crazy when the experts keep saying don't eat this-eat that and five years later, they change their minds.

Nana said...

I look forward every Saturday to your food pantry post! I make flavored vinegars and contacted the Agricultural agent about making flavored oils. She said to beware of making homemade oils, they must be made right and refrigerated. They don't last long either. For once, store bought is better! Have a great weekend. Love and hugs, Nana.

Anonymous said...

Is coconut oil really good for you? If it is, I'd like to try it. I have read in a couple of other blogs that it is a good choice for people with thyroid disease, but I didn't know if the bloggers were correct.

I'm glad you're up and about again.


mdoe37 said...

I've become a fan of coconut oil. The One Good Thing by Jillee blog has lots of uses for it, including a nice lotion. :) I've done a bit of cooking with, but didn't know how it actually tasted. So I put a spoonful in my mouth and it tastes like, well, light oil. No flavor, not bad at all.

I used to volunteer at a food pantry, until things went wonky in the world and more of my neighbors showed up (made it uncomfortable for them). This pantry would give you a guideline based on the number of people in the home and you grabbed a cart and selected your own stuff. And there was always a shelf of odd things. . .sauerkraut, chop suey veggies, even pimentos. If something of there caught your eye, it was a bonus because lots of folks wouldn't take those kinds of things (ready fussy kids). Dry beans, uh, no one wants to cook them.

I pulled a Brenda the other day. :) I was in line to pick up the husbands meds at Walmart (generic cheaper there than through our mail order insurance --really). I was smitted by the cover of a magazine and had put it in my cart. As I stood there, I remembered you peeking at the magazines at the bookstore. So, I glanced through it while I was standing there and realized it wasn't worth the $2.79 and. . . put it back. Someday, I'll tell you the rest of the story behind that!

And another Goodwill trip yielded at Bissell Little Green machine, $12.99. Can you here me singing?!?

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I read about butter vs margarine years ago, and have only used butter since. We also use coconut oil. I get mine at Wal-Mart.

It is challenging to work with what you have - I did that this week. But God is good and he helps us to be clever!

I don't know about lard, but I have heard that the red palm oil is good - they use it in African cooking all the time....years ago it was thought to be bad.

Happy Sunday!


Molly said...

Lovely post, thank you. You made me think of one of my husband's favourite comments--that he is just waiting for the day the news reports a new study out promoting the health benefits of bacon. Your comment about the lard information is really interesting. Maybe this year I will make my freezer pie crusts the way Grandma did and use lard instead of Crisco. It would sure save money! Hope your nausea is gone by now. Feel better!

Anonymous said...

I bought the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Grit tonight and it has several articles about using and making lard in it. Sarah

A Woman that Fears the Lord said...

I like 'chopped'. :-)

Going to 'food panties' is not easy. I've been doing it for 3 years. I used to run food pantries.. and here I am. I used to go to quite a few before my husband got disability. Now I just go to a senior brown bag that I pay $1 a month at attend. I'm always thankful for the food we receive and it helps a lot. The man was so rude at one food pantry that I left crying. Hard.

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!!! the Borg! I am up early as I can't breathe due to a cold. Thanks for making me laugh out loud :o)

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I've always (well, almost) loved being an experimental cook. It's my nature, I think. I love seeing what I can do with what I have. The downside is that it can be difficult to reproduce something!

I often make a sweet and sour cabbage for my son and that's something that can be done with veggies cut up for cole slaw. It's just smaller pieces.

Chicken fat can be rendered for cooking too. Just freeze pieces of fat you might cut off if you buy a whole chicken and freeze it until you have enough to render. The flavor is great. In Jewish cookbooks this is called schmaltz.

I've never cooked with lard. No one in my family did. But we've always used butter and I feel sort of vindicated now. All in moderation, and as much as possible from scratch.

I totally agree with Vee that you should write a book, Brenda! You have the gift for it. But perhaps this blog is your book.

I really like the fact of your husband being on the pantry committee. I know he has excellent first hand ideas for their improvement.

LisaZ said...

Lard from pasture-raised, healthy pigs is all natural and I've read it contains Vitamin D which is such a hard-to-get nutrient without supplements or enough sunlight all over our bodies. This makes me think we should use lard. We need good fats in our diet for vitamin absorption and hormone regulation. Of course, "all things in moderation" is generally a good practice.

Anonymous said...

The "lard" in regular grocery stores has been partially hydrogenated so it is more like Crisco. Be sure to read the label and get 100% lard.