Eating from the Pantry

Eating from the Pantry

So, these past few weeks have been killer at work — we’re moving to some new tools, which is exciting and frustrating and involves a lot of training, and of course, everyone is a little nervous in the current economic climate — so it’s been long days at the computer after which I reel out of my home office slightly stunned that I can be as blinky and fried as I am considering that I haven’t even left the house. The weirdness of telecommuting — your job comes to you.

However, the silver lining has been that I was slightly crazed this summer and put up a lot of food. Which means that at the end of the day, dinner is actually kind of working out — polenta has been a staple lately — I’ve discovered that the rice cooker set on slow cook is the bomb for polenta. I have all that sauce I put up, and a freezer full of cooked greens, and I did a (small) pork shoulder in red chile last week, which as we all know you can reheat ad infinitum. So polenta with greens, or polenta with sauce, or polenta with pulled pork. Or pasta with any of the above. I also made an oddball dish the other day that turned out well — I took half a ham slab, and put it in a dish on top of a small savoy cabbage from the garden chopped up with a few garden carrots and potatoes and some of the little onions I grew. A few garlic slices, some salt and pepper, a good slug of white wine and a sprinkling of Herbes de la Garrigue from World Spice, then in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. I did it in one of my pyrex dishes from eBay that had a lid, so I cooked it covered for about 30 minutes, then took the lid off so the spuds and the ham got nice and crispy. It was way too much food, which means that it’s more than one dinner, which is good when I’m blinky after a long day at the computer.

The other thing I’ve been trying to do is to up the ratio of veggies to whatever meat is on the plate — so a little ham and a lot of veggies, a nice pile of polenta with a little sauce, or greens, or an egg. Basic cucina povera, which is, as we’re all discovering, actually a healthier way to live. Which isn’t to say that last night, after another long long day, I wasn’t tempted to call out for something — a pizza or Chinese food — but takeout in our little town takes forever, and it didn’t seem worth it when I have a fridge and pantry full of food. So I reheated some pork, and some rice, and chopped up a bunch of cilantro and scallions, and in 15 minutes I had a nice hot bowl of food (and I hadn’t dropped fifteen dollars in the middle of the week).

3 thoughts on “Eating from the Pantry

  1. good job, much more satisfying to eat your homecooked stuff too. I just cannot get the hang of polenta, I’ve tried but…I really want to like what I’ve prepared but I never do. What am I missing? I’ve tried a couple different recipes.

  2. Well, I start with good stone-ground coarse polenta — Bob’s Red Mill is easy to find around here. I use a 1:4 ratio of polenta to water — add a sprinkle of salt, then put it in the rice cooker/slow cooker for a loooong time — 2-3 hours (which is easy when you work at home and also nice because you really can’t cook it too long). At the end, put in a nice chunk of butter and a lot of parmesan — it’ll be bland, it’s supposed to be — what I like is the texture when you’ve cooked it a really long time — it gets lighter and I want to say fluffier, even though that’s probably not correct — but good polenta has a nice texture to it. And a good corny taste. And butter. And cheese. I save leftovers in small ramekins — they freeze pretty well and reheat nicely.

  3. I like the idea of living out of the pantry. I live in Taiwan which regularly gets hit with typhoons in the summer/fall/winter. Often
    the fields growing green leafy vegetables get flooded and thus ruined, sending the price through the roof. I’ve wanted to
    preserve/can/freeze/??? a lot of greens in the pre-typhoon months so I could have them on hand to eat when the prices rise. Is this possible, and if so, how does one go about it? What
    are the pitfalls/dangers to look out for??

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