Many of you may remember my great pantry and freezer clean out (to read the post click here). I think I made mention during that post that my spice pantry was is massive need of cleaning and organizing. I tend to be very Type-A (I sometimes think they modeled Monica Geller after me), so I am not sure how it got so out of hand in the first place. My excuse is going to be that when you have young kids and all the activities that come with that, something has to give…I guess it was my spice pantry.
A few weekends ago we had a much-needed day at home. NOTHING was planned. Sometimes that is so blissful. The kids were given the rare opportunity to veg in front of the TV for longer than their allotted hour, and I took to cleaning out the spice pantry.
I am embarrassed to say that there were multiple duplicates (does anyone really need 3 half used jars of oregano?) and quite a few spice jars that had completely caked together, thus rendering them totally unusable. It was so cathartic to combine the duplicates and trash the caked jars (that part wasn’t fun…I hate waste).
Now that my spice / vinegar / oil pantry is organized (yes, it is alphabetical), I find that it is so much easier to cook. I can see everything I have and I don’t have to go hunting for the ingredient I need.
Are any of you in need of a spice pantry clean out? If so, take the time and do it. You will be so happy that you did.
It has been a month since I challenged myself to only buy produce and bread products (to see my original challenge post click here). I am sooo happy I did this. My pantry feels so much more manageable and it really forced me to get creative with my meals and use things that I already had in the pantry, freezer, and fridge.
I did end-up buying some things that I was not supposed to, but let me explain… while on this challenge my meat-loving husband decided to try living plant based for a month (with the occasional bit of seafood). He was not ready to jump into eating plant based AND eating all whole foods, so I did buy him some mock meats. I am so proud to say that he has been sticking with it and doing really well!
What is clear to me is that even after completing this challenge I still have a lot of food in my pantry. I also still have a bunch of food in my freezers, but a lot of the food in there is food I always use (I am a big fan of making big batches of meals and freezing them for another night). I also still have a bit of meat and seafood in my fridge that I plan to share with others because I don’t see the point in throwing away food (Although I’s LOVE to throw away the chicken wings…no one’s heart needs that!).
I really think this challenge has changed me. I am going to try much harder to plan out my meals and not impulse buy. I don’t need to have so much on hand. Fresher is better!
When I was a kid I HATED lima beans. My dad loved them, so we ate them a lot. Just thinking of lima beans used to make my mouth dry…they always tasted so mealy and intensely dry to me and no amount of butter could fix that. To this day I see one of the bricks of frozen Jolly Green Giant lima beans and shudder.
Fast forward to adulthood. A few months ago my husband and I had the priviledge of enjoying an amazing night at the Segerstrom Family Farm in Costa Mesa. Our friends invited us to join them at the farm for a charity event (The Festival of Children) and it was truly one of my favorite events ever. We began by going out into the fields to pick the produce that would be used in our dinner. There was a private chef who prepared all of the food with her team and we spent the night dining outdoors under the stars right next to the fields. It was spectacular. The food was phenomenal and the company was even better.
The Segerstrom Farm began as a lima bean farm, so when the night ended we were all sent home with bage of dried lima beans and fantastic pumpkins to take home to the kids.
Segerstrom Lima Beans
For the holidays my mom and dad gifted me a HUGE (750+ pages) vegetarian cookbook called World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey and one of the lima bean reciped jumped out at me. The time had come for me to give lima beans another try…I already had some outstanding beans in the pantry from the Segerstrom Farm, so I had no more excuses.
Shockingly I LOVED this recipe. The beans were creamy and so flavorful. I am sure it is attributable to high quality beans and a well written cookbook.
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 5 inches. Drain, discarding the soaking liquid and rinse with cold water.
Dry Beans vs. Soaked Beans
Put the beans in a pot with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil. Remove the scum that rises to the top. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are just tender (If the dried beans are very fresh it may only take 20 minutes).
Skim the Foam
Meanwhile, put the oil in a flame and ovenproof casserole-type dish and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the onion has just wilted. Put in the carrot and cook another minute, stirring now and then. Now put in the tomatoes and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened. Turn off the heat.
Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes
Sauteed Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
When the beans have finished cooking, add them and their cooking liquid to the dish with the onion, carrot, and tomatoes.
Gently Mix in the Lima Beans
Add the salt, lots of black pepper, the parsley, and oregano. Stir to mix.
Add the Herbs
Put the casserole dish into the oven and bake, uncovered for 2 hours.
Ready for the Oven
Serve hot. I served this with a salad and some crusty whole wheat bread, but it would taste great over barley or pasta as well.
Some people have a show addiction, some people have a substance addiction, I have a pantry and freezer stockpiling issue. I think I could run a neighborhood bomb shelter for an entire month and we would all eat like kings and queens!!! I am putting myself into rehab. I have now made the commitment to ONLY BUY PRODUCE, BREAD, or DAIRY ALTERNATIVES for the next month. Yikes! Putting my goal out there in the cosmos is going to help me stay accountable.
I took a trip to Mother’s Market today (where my husband likes to say I am amongst “my people.”) and I have to be honest, I actually had to put three things back on the shelves. My daughter who has a gluten allergy ran out of her box of flavored gluten free (GF) oatmeal, so I absent mindedly put its replacement in the cart. I had to stop myself and realize, “Nope, Gretchen you have plain old GF oatmeal at home.” I am perfectly capable of flavoring plain old oatmeal for her. My second boo boo came when I saw some vegan hamburger patties I just read about in Kris Carr’s new book (more on that later this month) and again, they went into the cart. Ugh…back onto the freezer shelf they went.
So, here goes. Here are the pictures of my pantry:
More and More
And my freezers:
I’ll check back at the beginning of February and show my progress.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
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