One thing that’s been happening in my kitchen lately is an attempt to utilize my “food hoard.” Before you picture me sitting on top of a mountain of old food and wrappers, sleeping in my car, and having to use a phone to talk to my husband “across the hoard” (I’ve actually seen all of these things really happen on hoarding reality shows), allow me to explain.
Multiple factors have contributed to me having A LOT of random ingredients around. I have a full freezer, pantry cupbard, additional cupboard, and 2 rolling trolleys housed in another room, also full of food. So yes, my food hoard is neatly organized, but it’s still a bit excessive. I even have an additional refrigerator in the garage – you know, for food-storage emergencies.
My day job involves recipe development and testing. Sometimes, recipe testing means that you need to make a recipe or part of a recipe several times to get it just right. This means that you need to make sure you have extra ingredients on hand. Well, sometimes you get it right on the first try. Then you still have those extra ingredients. Sometimes, a recipe will call for 1/2 cup of wild rice, but the grocery store only carries a 1 lb. container.
I love to try new recipes from magazines and the internet, as well as invent my own. So I’m often buying new ingredients in order to try new things. I also like to visit specialty food shops (like Biercamp Sausages in Ann Arbor). In addition, my “souvenirs” from vacations are most often foodstuffs I can bring home (tupelo honey from Savannah, maple syrup from Maine, chicory coffee from New Orleans). People also buy me food gifts (which I love! don’t stop!)
All of this has combined to mean a mega-sized food hoard for my tiny-sized house. And I’ve gotta start paring it back. For real. So, at least once a week, I’m going to try to make a dinner using no newly purchased ingredients. Or, in a pinch, maybe just one new ingredient.
This week’s dinner was pretty easy – I had the whole hoard to choose from! I decided to make a cajun-style shrimp, andouille (Biercamp!) sausage, and polenta dish. I kept casually referring to it as “shrimp and grits,” which confused my husband. Turns out, there’s really zero difference between polenta and grits. I think polenta is just something fancy northern people say to pretend they’re not eating down-home grits. But, they are. For this dish, I had all of these ingredients on hand, except for the handful of shrimp I bought to prevent the dish from being too sausage-heavy.