Jerseygator's Blog


Cleaning out the fridge

Posted in Cooking by jerseygator on March 17, 2010

A few weeks ago Darrol got called out of town for a week, taking our 17 year old son with him.  This left me in the house with our 19 year old nephew, Jacob, and our 15 year old daughter, Kenzie.

Homemade goat cheese & carmelized onion pizza, and apple-cinnamon pizza

Now you know I’ve never claimed to be the cook in the family.  Most of my posts are about the garden.  I’m also the chief billpayer in the family and handle the budget. With 2/5 of the family gone, I decided to clean out the fridge and freezer, using mostly ingredients on hand and supplementing as little as possible.  I’m also trying to lose a little bit of winter-gained weight, so I figured it would be a good time to get started!

Cleaned and organized fridge ready for "use it up" week

First up… literally cleaning out the fridge.  With soapy sponge in hand I took everything out, checking expiration dates, wondering what the unidentifiable stuff in the baggie was, and chucking stuff I knew we were never going to use.  I good cleaning later, things went back in with an eye toward “first in first out” principles.  Our basic refrigerator inventory included:

*cheese: tons of cheese.  Parmesan, mozzarella (2 blocks and 3 bags of shredded!), sliced white American from the Amish market, ricotta, cream cheese, goat cheese, feta, 3 pounds of shredded cheddar and some I-make-it-special-so-it’s-mine Cheddar blend that Taylor makes for his quesadillas.  I froze all the shredded mozzarella and left the 2 blocks in the fridge; the American also went into the freezer.   I combined the cream cheese into one container (we get it from the bagel shop) and closed the cheese drawer.

*bacon:  thick cut from the Amish market.  We ran out of Mr. Pig bacon months ago (although our new Mr. Pig is on order from the butcher!).

*eggs, butter, skim milk, buttermilk, half-n-half, and Tazo chai tea mix.

*1/2 bottle white wine from a local vineyard

*lettuce, celery, carrots, apples, kiwis (given to me by a customer), some citrus.

*condiments.  Not too many, as we don’t add a lot of ketchup/mayo type and usually make our salsa’s, etc.  Some orientals, homemade jams,

*a couple of mystery containers.  Darrol makes marinades and Oriental mixes and such, and I was afraid to throw out any liquid I couldn’t identify.  He can look them over when he gets home.

This was about it.  Darrol had left without shopping, as he wouldn’t be here to cook and he and I have different palates.  When I addressed the freezer, however, I saw he would never leave the kids without some of his delicious offerings.   There were single servings of beef stew, traditional chili, white bean chicken chili, turkey soup and ham/bean soup.  I pulled some of the single servings out and put them in the fridge for Jacob, who loves Darrol’s cooking with a passion.  These would be Jacob’s “go-to” foods for after school or evening snacks.  The freezer also held some 4oz frozen salmon steaks (Target’s Market Pantry brand, which is incredibly good), some breaded fishsticks, 4 chicken breasts and lots of frozen vegies.  I pulled the chicken breasts out and stuck in the fridge to thaw as well.

Our pantry holds the usual fare; the challenge was to start using it up!

Pantry staples

DAY 1:  Pulled the salmon steaks out of the freezer to thaw.  Picked up some broccoli at the market (we were dying for some fresh veg) and cooked the salmon on the stovetop grill with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Served with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

DAY 2:  Marinated the chicken breasts with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt/pepper.  Grilled on stovetop grill and made a brown rice/broccoli salad with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

DAY 3:  Made pizza dough with AP flour and cornmeal and divided into 4 individual dough balls.  We made 4 pizzas: 1 plain (sauce only, for Jacob’s girlfriend who came over for dinner), 2 pepperoni and one with only olive oil, kosher salt and minced herbs (rosemary is still going strong in the garden).  These were amazingly delicious (the herbed one being the hit of the evening).

DAY 4:  Vegie Fried Rice:  All the leftover rice, 2 eggs, and chopped onion,

Fried Rice

celery, carrots, red pepper, broccoli stems (trimmed), garlic, plus 1/2 the white wine (the other half lubricated the cook) and soy sauce.  I was out of sesame oil so didn’t add any.  We had also made a loaf of N0-Knead bread (which is basically just flour, salt, yeast and water), so had a slice or two with dinner.

No-knead bread

For desert, I made a simple syrup and cut up the kiwis.  After popping those two ingredients in the food processor with the juice of one lemon I put the slurry into a countertop ice cream maker and we had a very refreshing kiwi sorbet for desert.

Bulgar wheat and lentils over homemade bread

DAY 5:  Lentils with Bulgur Wheat and Caramelized Onions, and more homemade bread.  This recipe is a result of googling some of my ingredients to see what recipes came up and is from Emeril Lagasse.

I also made some banana muffins with 3 overripe bananas and 3 wrinkly apples.  I made some stovetop applesauce from the apples (just peeled, chopped, and cooked down with some water), and adapted a recipe using AP flour, oat flour (I just whirled some oats in the food processor), some leftover unsweetened puffed rice cereal and the usual muffin ingredients (baking powder and soda, egg whites, vanilla, etc.)  We made 24 mini muffins and 6 regular sized muffins in all, topping some with demerara sugar and some with chocolate chips.

Banana muffins; plain, cinnamon-sugar topped, and with chocolate chips

DAY 6:  I worked all day, so premade some pizza dough for the kids so that they could make up their own pizzas.  Still plenty of cheese left, plus some pepperoni or bacon.  I took leftover lentils in a pita pocket for lunch.

Chickpeas and Chorizo dish

DAY 7:  Darrol home!  I celebrated by making a Mark Bittman recipe of Fried Chickpeas with spinach and Chorizo, along with some toasted bread with feta cheese.

So how did the clean out go?

*Purchased: 1 small head of broccoli, one red onion, one red pepper, a package of pepperoni, 5lbs of bread flour (a staple), a 5lb bag of yellow onions (another staple), a small bunch of parsley and a small package of Chorizo sausage.   All-in-all about $15.

*Used up the leftovers daily with creative repurposing (yes, that’s what I’m calling it).

*Ate very healthy, reasonably sized meals every day.  Our breakfasts consisted of some bagels we had purchased in bulk from our local bagel shop, omelets (Jacob made a very creative one with cheddar and pepperonni), oatmeal (pantry), or toast (from our homemade loaves).  Snacks were fruit, cookies Darrol had made before leaving, pantry staples (like a handful of chocolate chips) or leftovers.  The refrigerator is pretty darn empty…I know Darrol’s going to start making a list as soon as he gets home!  (oh, and BTW, I lost 2 pounds pretty effortlessly.)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: