Clearing out the pantry

I have a bunch of stuff in my pantry that I bought for a specific recipe, and haven’t used the rest of the container. Other things I bought on a whim and haven’t used yet. There are some bulk purchases that are almost gone and need to be used up. I also have a whole freezer full of meat & other bulk purchases, some things I froze last summer that I need to organize and use up. So, I’m going to use the rest of January & as much of February as I need to clear out the pantry.

I want to be a good steward of our resources, and I hate wasting food. What has worked for me previously is putting everything I want to use out in a corner of my countertop. I really don’t like having a lot of stuff sitting out, so it is a great motivator for me to use it all up in a short amount of time.

I tackled the pantry and fridge this morning, and hope to get to the freezer later today. It is a good day to do it since our freezer is in the garage, and it is really cold today, so I can take some time getting everything out, organize it and make an inventory list of what we have so I can plan ahead for some cuts of meat I don’t have a lot of experience with.

So, I have a bunch of odds & ends sitting out on my counter top, and occupying a prominent spot in the fridge. Hopefully this will help me use it up, and remind me not to buy things I don’t really have a plan for – because I probably won’t use them in a timely fashion.

Sourdough crepes

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Yesterday was a holiday, so my older daughter didn’t have school, and my husband was home from work. So, I made sourdough crepes for breakfast. I’ve tried making crepes in the past, and they haven’t turned out well, so I wasn’t expecting much. Oh. My. Gosh. They were awesome.

Most of the time when I make a recipe, I think of ways I could tweak it in the future to fit our preferences more. These crepes were so easy, and turned out so well, I wouldn’t change a thing.

They brought back such great memories of a trip I took with my Nonna when I was ten. we went to Paris for a week just the two of us, and I think I ate at least one crepe every day. I put a thin layer of Nutella with thinly sliced bananas on one, and just a sprinkling of powdered sugar on another. So, they weren’t totally whole foods, but boy were they yummy! I think homemade Nutella is going to be something I need to try out to put on these delicious crepes.

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Sourdough English Muffins

I’ve been using a whole wheat sourdough starter from cultures for health for the past few weeks. I’ve tried to capture wild yeast before without much success.

I also have the sourdough A-Z ebook from gnowfglins, which has some great recipes including these sourdough English muffins . Everything has been so good! Getting used to caring for a starter takes some time, but I have it down to a pretty good routine now.

The English muffins were fantastic with butter & jelly on them, but were also great as mini pizzas. I made homemade pizza sauce, added cheese, and everyone could pick their own veggie toppings. Pop them in the toaster oven, easy & delicious dinner.

After my initial success, I made a double batch and froze them. I pulled a few out for mini pizzas for lunch the other day. It was quick & easy, and my girls thought having their own mini pizzas was such a treat.

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Meal plan Jan 21-27

The plan went somewhat out the window last week with 2 sick kids, and some schedule changes. But, you roll with the punches. I ended up making dinner for my whole family Thursday with my sister – we made fish tacos, and they were delicious! I made a double batch of sourdough tortillas – so we had a bunch of veggie quesadillas for lunches, which were awesome.

Also, my father in law gave me a crepe pan yesterday, so I’m going to try out a sourdough crepe recipe I have wanted to try. My husband is home tomorrow, so I’ll have some time in the morning to experiment.

So, here is the plan for this week:

Monday: sourdough crepes & yogurt smoothies :: veggie quesadillas :: tomato & lentil soup
Tuesday: yogurt smoothies :: sourdough corndog muffins :: quinoa cakes and roasted butternut squash
Wednesday: creamy rice :: corn dog muffins :: pork chops & quinoa
Thursday: oatmeal :: pizza quesadillas :: baked falafel & salad
Friday: oatmeal :: pb&j and carrots :: dinner out
Saturday: eggs & sausage :: leftovers :: hearty nachos
Sunday: pancakes :: leftovers :: salmon cakes & green beans

Reminders

Both of my girls are sick today, so I’m keeping my menu plan simple this week. I put a verse at the top of my weekly schedule/menu plan, and this week’s is Isaiah 41:10. I am filling my mind with this promise today as I cuddle my sick girlies.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Here is the menu plan for this week:

– Monday: sourdough pancake, quesadillas, sweet potato quinoa soup
– Tuesday: creamy rice, sourdough English muffin pizzas, quinoa cakes and roasted carrots
– Wednesday: yogurt smoothies, cornbread hotdog muffins, black beans & rice
– Thursday: sourdough pancakes, leftovers, salmon cakes & roasted veggies
– Friday: PB smoothies, leftovers, veggie pizza
– Saturday: eggs & sausage, leftovers, stir fry
– Sunday: yogurt smoothies, leftovers, BBQ pork (we didn’t end up having it last week)

Enduring food 2

The second reason I chose the name enduring food for this blog is because I think real food is food that has endured through the ages. God created so many varieties of plants and animals, and created them to work together – bees pollinate the flowers and make honey, cows help fertilize the grass – in so many ways, probably ways we don’t fully understand. I think God’s design is pretty intricate and perfect. It doesn’t require over processing for shelf stability (food is supposed to spoil), or genetic modifications for resistance to pesticides.

So, we try to eat foods that have endured over time – things that have only one ingredient, because they are the ingredient. Some of the most delicious foods I have eaten are simple preparations of in season vegetables. Eating a juicy tomato right off the vine is one of my favorite things in the summer. I love eating with the seasons. Food tastes better when it is allowed to grow how it is intended, and ripen naturally.

Roasted Carrots

One of the easiest ways to prepare vegetables is to roast them.  I drizzle them with olive oil, a little bit of real salt and pepper, then pop them in a 400 degree oven.  It is as simple as that.  I roasted carrots for a side dish a few nights ago, and they were delicious.  Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots.

I cut up 8 carrots on the diagonal – as shown below (these are pre-roasted, I forgot to take an after picture – it was dinner time, and we were hungry).  It took 35 minutes to get them to the perfect tenderness for me.  I roast all my veggies on my Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan.  It holds heat really well, and has a nice lip so the oil and juices don’t run off the end and make a mess in the oven.

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What Real Foods Means to Me

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Everybody defines real foods a little differently. I think in general, most people agree it is eating food as close to the original as possible without a lot of processing, additives, etc. I don’t have a specific set of rules, but here are the guidelines we use in our family:

– Organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible and not cost prohibitive, as fresh and local as I can. If it’s not in-season, or available fresh, I buy frozen fruits and veggies over canned

– 100% whole wheat flour instead of refined white flour – I bake some of our bread, and get some from a local bakery that has only 5 ingredients

– Brown rice instead of white, or often we sub organic quinoa instead

– We drink pasteurized but not homogenized whole milk from a farm near our home, I make yogurt from the same milk, and we eat local cheese & butter from the same farm, and local eggs whenever possible

– We don’t eat a ton of seafood, but I’m trying to incorporate it into our diets more as I learn to prepare it – when we do eat it, it is wild caught not farm raised

– We get all of our meat (pork, beef & poultry) from polyface farms, which they define as “a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach”

– I use honey, Grade B maple syrup, or rapadura to sweeten things, and I almost always cut the sweetener in recipes

– I avoid high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar & GMO ingredients as much as possible

– We don’t often eat out – when we do, we try hard to eat real foods, but it’s not always possible. I need to get better about packing whole foods when we travel because that is probably when we slip the most

That’s where we are. It has been a slow evolution over the past 4 years switching everything over, researching local options, figuring out what this all really meant and learning to cook things unprocessed that I previously purchased canned, packaged or pre-made.

Menu Plan Jan 7-13

Menu Plan

I thought I’d start posting my menu plan after I make it every Monday (even though today is Tuesday) – here’s what we’ll probably be eating this week – sometimes I call an audible if I don’t have as much time as I think and need something quick and easy, but I usually stick pretty well to the plan.

Monday:Yogurt & Blueberries, leftover black beans and rice with pears, Chicken Curry

Tuesday: Coconut Flour Muffins, leftover Chicken Curry, Salmon Cakes & Balsamic Carrots

Wednesday: Coconut Flour Muffins, Grilled Cheese with apples & carrots, Chili & Cornbread x 6* & salad

Thursday: Yogurt based Strawberry Banans Smoothies, Leftover Chili, Burrito Bowls

Friday: Peanut butter Banana Shake, Leftover Burrito Bowls, Veggie Pizza & salad

Saturday: Sourdough Pancakes, any leftovers in fridge, Tomato Lentil Soup & salad

Sunday: Eggs & Breakfast Sausage, quesadillas, BBQ pork & sweet potatoes

* I’m participating in a freezer meal swap with some friends on Saturday, and I’m making chili & cornbread for my meal, so I’m making a HUGE batch

Chicken curry

My husband and I took an Indian cooking class 4 or 5 years ago. We made a ton of different recipes. One of the few I make on a regular basis is this chicken curry. It is so delicious, and pretty easy to make at home. I made some modifications from the original recipe because I had some trouble finding a few of the ingredients, and I prefer coconut oil.

Here are all the ingredients lined up and ready to go.

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I have recently been more intentional about having everything out and ready to go so I’m not scrambling around looking for a specific ingredient in the middle of a recipe. Everything goes much smoother.

Here is the recipe card. I use the My Recipe Book app for iPad which is where the format for the recipe card comes from.

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The directions call for a whole chicken cut into pieces, I cut it into 8 pieces – 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts and 2 wings.

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It is really helpful to measure out all of your spices ahead of time, and have them all in one bowl to dump right in when you need to.

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I need to get a better photo of the final product, this looks somewhat unappetizing, but this is what I have for now.

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Also, usually I finish it in my enameled cast iron pan, but this time I needed to go somewhere for a few hours, so after it was all done except the simmering, I dumped it in my crock pot for 2 hours on high. It worked really well. I love it when a recipe works out in the crock pot, so I can get dinner ready earlier in the day, and it is ready to go when dinner rolls around.