{03/08/2012}   Out of date store cupboard food

This morning I have made cheese straws and coffee fairy cakes.  For the former I needed mustard powder and for the latter, Camp Coffee.  As these are two things I make fairly often, those two ingredients are always in my kitchen, yet I still get a sense of smugness for having less common ingredients to hand.  This has got me thinking about the stuffed-to-capacity drawers of ingredients I have and how few I actually use and how many are probably embarrassingly out of date.

Last night, in an attempt to get brown rice to taste more exciting, I opened a stock cube.  The colour and texture looked odd so I opened another.  I ended up chucking them all out; there was a distinct past-their-peak look to them.  In rummaging around for a newer box of stock cubes, I discovered ingredients I didn’t know I had.  There was an extensive selection of flours, more pulses and dried beans than I could ever want to eat and a few niche tins and tubs.  So much waste as most of these will have to be chucked, though I’ve convinced myself that old dried beans can be transformed into stuffing for a door stop I desperately need (yeah, like I’m ever going to make a door stop!).

I absolutely hate wasting food, especially unopened packets.  The dried beans and pulses are always bought when I decide I need to diet (there are quite a few duplicate bags!!) but I can never look at a bag of lentils and get excited.  I occasionally use dried chickpeas as they taste so much better than tinned ones, but part way into the process of overnight soaking, I realise that I will also have to boil them and this is just a faff too far.  But I do do it occasionally, “occasionally” being about once a year.  I fear there is a small part of me that thinks that if I have healthy beans and pulses in my kitchen, I will feel healthy and virtuous.  I need to find a tasty, healthy pulsey or beany recipe, then – and this is the key, buying to requirement – buy the relevant dried wonder food and follow the recipe, instead of buying them with a view to finding a way of using them.  Which is never going to happen.  I have guiltily thrown out kilos of the things over the years and still never learn.

I have a lot of nuts too.  Nuts don’t excite me either, but I do at least use them more as they can be added to yummy things, like chocolate brownies.  I have also found a staggeringly delicious salad recipe using pecans so I’m actually low on pecans now!  Likewise, a large jar of cashews has started to go down as I have rekindled a fondness for cashews in stir frys.

The lesson here is that there are some things you should only buy if and when you are planning to make something in particular, rather than thinking, “Hmm, I might like black eyed peas”, then never using them.  At some point over the next few days, I am going to have a food sort-out and get rid of out of date and never used dried goods.



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