Cooking from the Pantry
January 5, 2016
Would you like to know about my craziness – well, some of it.
My new year’s resolution is not to lose weight; that’s a year-long, lifelong resolution. Nor is to be a better person; that’s unachievable. My resolution this year is to bring greater order to my home.
That may seem to you so simple as to be unworthy of a new year. But it’s not.
I am focusing right now on the kitchen and have a bossy friend helping me.
Clearing space there required me to take from the cupboards all of their contents.
In my defense, I point out that I am a professional and so sometimes I buy ingredients with which I can experiment. They accumulate.
And in my defense, sometimes people bring to the bakery foods they want us to sell and friends bring to my home gifts of foods they think I will enjoy.
Those foods pile up a bit but this does not explains some foods that only I could have brought in.
I will learn what this is only by opening it. (I hope it isn’t durian.)
I suffer from a peculiar pathology, culinary hoarding.
I go to a store to shop for a particular recipe I have in mind, one that requires, say, unsweetened coconut milk and I stand before the store shelf on which it reposes and say to myself, “Do I have any coconut milk at home?”
Well, I say again to myself, “I don’t want to make a special trip if I don’t have it, so I’ll buy a can just in case. Oh, I might as well buy two so I don’t have to wonder the next time.” But when the next time comes I repeat that litany and the result is:
I do not want simply to put back into the cabinets what I have removed and so right now I am sleeping each night with dreams of food combinations.
I try to imagine foods composed exclusively of what I have on hand. But how could I combine one of Joyce Goldstein’s superb jams with another ingredient also in the pantry. I stand before the counter and try to imagine combinations. But do hearts of palm really go well with lingonberry?
So I altered this unrealistic aspiration and tried to think of recipes that might combine an ingredient I have on hand with fresh ingredients I buy. That was easy but I fear the weeding out will take too long.
My helpful friend had a better suggestion. Meals composed of several courses each of which uses one jar on hand:
Martinis with pickled corn served with toasts with caper flowers and anchovy paste.
Followed by room temperature pork roast with with mango chutney and a salad of avocado and hearts of palm
And a dessert of shortbread cookies with assorted jams.
I can do this. I can have a series of dinners here with friends who are adventurous eaters. I have a lot of such friends. But with foods like these, how long will I keep them? How many dinner parties must I hold? How long will it take?
Frankly I am praying for a couple of blizzards.