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The no shopping for a week (or longer) challenge

November 18th, 2009

A couple of months ago my online friends at egullet.org came up with an interesting challenge: don’t shop for food for a week or more, and only use what you have. I was intrigued by the idea, but never got past reading along with them, while happily filling my house with more food.

Well, they’re at it again, and this time I decided to join in. I probably have enough food to last us until next year, aside of fresh fruit, salad, veggies and milk.

So, here are my rules for this week and probably more:

No more shopping for food except for what the kids need fresh, like milk. I won’t buy any major food items, the only things I allow myself is maybe some special spice or sauce I might need for a particular dish to work myself through the freezer. I’ll also try to finally bake my own bread again, and make some pasta and pizza dough from scratch, projects I had planned for anyway.

First night’s dinner was rib eye steaks with oven roasted beans, self made potato chips (i.e. thinly sliced potatoes, parboiled and then fried to finish) and sauteed crimini mushrooms. Turned out great.

Lunch will be a piece of an other sülze I made with turkey. Basically turkey with veggies in chicken broth based aspic. Yumm!

This challenge makes me realize just how much food we have in the house, I really think we could live a month with no problem. Would not have salad, but there are frozen and canned things, rices and beans, potatoes and lots more.

Now I’m thinking about setting up a simple proofing chamber and start feeding my sourdough starter so I can bake some bread this weekend.

Hopefully I’ll think of taking some photos along the way :-)

2nd night dinner was going to be something with pork tenderloin. I had a vision of cubed pork tenderloin in Asian sauce on skewers on the bbq, maybe some apple on there too, rice, salad. Sadly once thawed ,the meat had an off smell despite that I froze it right after I bought it. Even after a thorough washing it had a sour smell and was somewhat grainy on the outside. I could not bring myself to cook with it. Ne resolution: from now on I will unpack every shrink wrapped piece of meat I buy, inspect it, and then vac-seal it again for freezing. Then I could at least return it if it’s bad…

So I decided to pull out some wild mushroom and truffle flat breads from Trader Joe’s, along with one 3 cheese flatbread. I still made a nice salad, one quarter of a gigantic avocado from the Asian market, pomegranate, persimmon, wild arugula, olive oil and sherry vinegar, s&p. Of course, I did not expect some what ever it was that fell/dripped down in my oven to burn. Literally. I open the oven and there’s a small pile of something on fire on the oven floor! Now, that’s a new one! What ever was down there was either new or had hidden very well before, I sure did not see a big fat lump of something down there when I turned it on. Needless to say that you can smoke some things in some ways to deliciousness. Well, now I know you can also smoke things into something almost inedible….

You know, just one of those days. Started with a dropped cup of coffee in the hallway. The one with carpet. A flat tire on my wife’s car, a misscheduled surprise playdate for my boy, more complicated faimly home work than I realized, fire smoked flat breads, just an odd day.

I don’t eat breakfast, made English muffins with Nutella for the kids and a sandwich for my wife to take to work. Lunch was mac&cheese for the kids, they’ve been after me for days for that, and I finished my poultry in aspik Sülze thing with some bread.
I did find an other pork tenderloin in the freezer, this one seems just fine, so I’ll be making the pork with raisins and pine nuts and balsamico from Marcella Hazan’s book tonight. Glad I found that recipe as I have an open package of pine nuts waiting to get eaten in the fridge. Salad will be some more of the gigantic avocado, persimmon from the inlaw’s garden, the other pomegranate I have and wild arugula. Might make some rice to go along with the meat.

I did buy more milk and English muffins today for the kids, there’s just no way around that. And minor cheat (I hope), some extra herb salad. And coffee.

Now, I just got word that my 1/6th of a cow will arrive tomorrow and a small turkey on Tue. All this was ordered weeks ago and of course has to show up in my no shopping week. I might use some of the fresh beef instead of thawing what I have, depending on the cuts I’ll get. Since I bought this stuff weeks ago, I’m not sure it qualifies as shopping. But since I have assorted poultry and beef in the freezer too, it probably doesn’t matter much.

I must say that it felt a bit strange to walk out of Safeway with one gal of milk, 3 packs of English Muffins and one box of salad (plus the coffee). I had to keep my eyes from wandering and my brain from wanting….

As for condiments, I could probably feed a small army with pickled things, sauces, powders, dried leaves, curries, etc. That’s what I’m actually really looking forward to with this experiment – going shopping at home and discovering hidden treasures!

Having fun so far :-)

Oh, and my sourdough starter just finished it’s first round of re-activating, off to it’s next feeding and I can turn the light in my cooler (improvised proofing box) off. Couple more days and I’ll be baking some real San Francisco Sourdough. Yes, they make it just down the road from me, but this will be selfmade and not shopped for. Well, aside of the ingredients of course.
I also see a sourdough pizza in my near future, I’m just starting a canned tomato tasting project and have 5 or 6 or so different brands to play with.

LOL, I’m starting to wonder if I secretly planned to open a small food store here???

We have an other surprise play date, this time for my little 2 year old. Friends are prepping their place for sale and their little boy is here to play with Mia. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on dinner w/o the rest of the house turning in to chaos :-D

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