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Pantry Ponderings

May 3rd, 2010 at 05:13 pm

I must be big into confession the past couple of days. I'm a hoarder. Not a TCL Hoarding: Buried Alive hoarder, but I hoard staples in my pantry.

I want to blame it on my parents. They grew up during the depression and always felt it was necessary to have canned goods and pasta in the pantry "just in case." So, I have followed suit.

Years ago Chicago columnist Mike Royko wrote about an experience at his home. He said week after week he would go to the grocery store and buy frozen pizzas, chicken, T.V. dinners, vegetables, etc. And he and the kids ate the convenience foods and left the other stuff. Soon his freezer was full of chicken parts and the vegetables would rot. He decided he would not go back to the store until everything was used. He commented that near the end of the cycle, his kids found elsewhere to eat. He, in turn came up with some creative, if not gourmet meals.

Unfortunately I am not as strict as good old Mike. I don't like using everything up and then going to the store. I like finding things on sale and stocking up. I don't like to waste things so I do use things. But, I do find uses for food. Just this weekend I substituted Ramen noodles for egg noodles in a casserole dish for two reasons. I wanted to use the Ramen, but I also didn't have the egg noodles and wasn't going to go and buy any when I had perfectly good noodles in my pantry.

I'm that way with stuff in the fridge as well. I made a casserole called "Hillbilly Stew". I didn't have the vegetables listed in the recipe, so used what I had. It asked for a corn muffin mix for the top, but I substituted a biscuit mix. My husband gave it 8 out of 10 for taste. So, I'll share my "tweaked" recipe.

Hillbilly Stew
1 lb. ground turkey, browned
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2-3 potatoes, cubed
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
steak sauce (optional)
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
biscuit mix
olive oil
spices of your choice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour

Chop the vegetables about the same size. Put in a baking dish or baking sheet, and use spices of your choice. I used ground pepper, dried oregano, sage, and Turmeric. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until vegetables are nearly done. Remove from oven.

Brown ground turkey. I also added a little steak sauce when it was browning. I added the minced garlic near the end so it wouldn't burn.

Grease a baking dish. Put the meat and vegetables in the dish. Using the pan you browned the meat; make a roux of the butter and flour. Stir or whisk until it is creamy. Add a little tomato sauce to keep it from lumping. When it has become smooth, whisk in the rest of the tomato sauce until it all mixed in. Pour over the vegetables and turkey and stir.

Here's where the part of measuring goes out the window: I don't measure the biscuit mix. I put some in a bowl and add a little milk until it is smooth. I see if there is enough to go over the top of the dish. If not, I add more mix and milk. I pour on top and bake at a 350 degree oven for between 40-50 minutes covered. The last 5 minutes I take the lid or cover off so the mix browns.

I'm sure you can make this recipe your own with your own vegetables or even ground beef or chicken...check out your freezer or pantry!

2 Responses to “Pantry Ponderings”

  1. whitestripe Says:

    every now and then i have a week or two where i decide I am going to use up everything in the pantry. somehow it just feels good to get everything new again, and it makes you think creatively about meals, and also probably makes you quesiton 'why did I buy this?'.

    the only downside is that I always find the very next shop is massive Big Grin obviously, because I am replenishing the pantry... so for me cost wise, it doesn't really have much of an effect, but somehow it makes my mind less cluttered when i 'spring clean' the pantry.

  2. Homebody Says:

    I did a pantry challenge in February with my sister. We still have lots of meat in our freezer and about 20 jars of marinara sauce!

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