an experiment

My kitchen may not exactly be a paragon of organizational efficiency. Of particular note is what I like to call the “pantry”. It’s really just an overtall, overdeep cupboard that has become the dumping ground for the “unperishables” – cans, rice, ramen, etc. It’s getting a little unruly.

I like to joke that I could go a month without buying any food, if I just ate through what I had in there (and also in my upright freezer in the garage). I’m to the point where I actually avoid cooking certain things because I know that I’ll have to find an ingredient somewhere in there. Something needs to be done.

So, here’s the plan:
Through the month of July, I will do whatever possible to both: a.) avoid grocery shopping, and b.) cook and eat as much as possible out of my existing food stores. I’m allowed to replace things if I run out (e.g. sugar: my house couldn’t run without our regular dosages of Kool-aid), but I should attempt to make substitutions where possible (if I run out of whole tomatoes for my pasta sauce, and I only have diced available, I must make do). I will maintain a google spreadsheet (to be published when it’s populated) with an inventory of what’s available. I am allowed to purchase reasonable quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, but only from farmer’s markets (unless it’s bananas or mangosteen or something that can’t be grown locally. I’m also (obviously) allowed to eat anything that grows in my garden. The only meat I will have is what’s in the freezer in the garage. Any canned goods that do not belong to one of the Nerds that I don’t eat, or don’t have a plan to eat by the end of the month will be donated to charity.

Here are my goals for this little endeavour (besides providing interesting content for all y’all):

  1. Clean out the pantry/freezer. Less stuff should be easier to organize.
  2. Experiment with new (and old!) recipes: do you know that I’ve never made rice and beans before? Something about the timing with the long-cooking beans and the relatively quick cooking rice turns me off.
  3. Lose some weight (I’m not holding my hopes out very far on this one – my pantry is a cornucopia of carbs)
  4. Save some money. I’ve had a couple of out-of-control AMEX bills over the past two months and I need to get my grocery spending under control.
  5. Eat more local produce. No trips to Cub/Costco means
  6. Teach myself to stop stocking up. I’m not a hoarder by any means, and yes, it’s convenient to have to have oat flour around for when the need for the perfect banana bread strikes, but honestly, how hard is it to get to the store? If, through this, I can come up with a list of canned goods that I “need” to have around on a regular basis, then it will be easy to come up with a replacement strategy (oh, I used a can of cream of mushroom soup this week? guess it’s time to buy another one).

In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that July isn’t the worst month ever to be doing this, seeing as how I’m going on at least one roadtrip, one camping trip, and one con during the month which should cut down on my need to actually eat at home much. Not that I’ll be increasing my allowance at all, so relying on eating out all the time to avoid the pantry won’t be feasible.

I’m actually starting to get excited about the prospects of doing inventory tonight (and no, I don’t have a fever or anything), so this should be fun!

obviously invented by optometrists

Magic eye tetris. My eyes are still watering.
This past weekend was one where I should have done many, many things, but didn’t feel like it. So, I took it relatively easy and kept myself to a trip to the 90’s on Friday, and to the Fineline to see the White Light Riot cd release show on Saturday. The show was pretty impressive – you can’t go wrong with an evening that begins with The Alarmists and ends with a stage dive.

Sunday, I took on phase two of my quest to conquer The Rib. This time: Baby back – much shorter cook time than spare ribs, which was good, because I’d forgotten about dinner until around 3pm. To be honest, if I were to do ‘em again, I’d cook them slower (with the coals in the side box, instead of on one side of the main grill), use more sauce, and make sure to not run out of smoking chips.

when interests collide

I love movies – especially those featuring lots of stylish violence. I also love food – especially that which is spicy. So today’s link love is extra exciting for me…

Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Sin City, Grindhouse, etc) is one of my favorite directors, and he’s been producing these awesome “10 Minute Cooking School” videos in which he describes how to make a few of his favorite dishes, with the help of clips from some of his movies.

Check out the Sin City Breakfast Tacos (with made from scratch flour tortillas, no less), and the Puerco Pibil (the object of Johnny Depp’s obsession) and tell me that your mouth isn’t watering.

I’m really hoping he makes more of these, even the camera style is tantalizing, and after all: “not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to fuck”.

One last thing: It’s Jenni’s birthday today, and she’s awesome, so hop on over to chocolate mussolini and wish her an awesome weekend!

another couple of links

Cooking with coke.  I know it’s possible, but I’ve never tried it myself.

I dislike pdf based webzines, but both the Twin Cities Imbiber and Steampunk seem worthy of keeping an eye on.

that’s my shiny thing!

Well, I finally took the twitter plunge. I may or may not be adding one of those nifty flash badges to the sidebar, it depends on how often I use it.

Some things that are shiny right this second:

  • It’s strawberry picking season here in Da-Snow-Ta. Since I decided to give up on my strawberry patch this year, I’ll need to get my fresh strawberry fix elsewhere. Pickyourown.org has a great listing of pick-you-own-farms in Minnesota, and I’ll probably be checking one out when I get a free afternoon (which will probably be well after the berries have peaked, but oh well.)
  • The Democracy Player (soon to be renamed Miro, apparently). Any video format, any OS, anytime. Built-in BitTorrent client and YouTube search, as well RSS grabber. I can’t wait to get home and try this.
  • Shojo Managa! Girl Power! East and West! I’ve never been to MCAD before, but this exhibit might just get me there.
  • The Cash Box has pointed me towards this game theory based analysis of the classic up vs. down debate. Reading it has gotten me on another brief obsession with game theory, and now I’m in search of reference material. Know any decent Game Theory for Dummies type books (but not written at a for Dummies level, more of a Brief History of Time level)?
  • The party on Saturday was great, as has been discussed elsewhere. The follow two awesome things were learned:
    • Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Grilled Shrimp with Charmoula sauce is the win.
    • Brining chicken before grilling makes it pretty much impossible to overcook, and therefore greatly enhances the yummy.