Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pantry Pressure

I can't stop making this dish exactly the same way: whole-wheat spaghetti, anchovy paste, garlic, butter, walnuts and Parmesan cheese.
Cranky made it for lunch yesterday, and he forgot the garlic. He also happened to riff with a dollop of sour cream. It was very good (and the garlic was not missed).
Even so, I'm not eating pasta as much as I would like. I blame it on my sudden, and unexpectedly deep, conversion to a local diet. There is only one source of wheat within 100 miles of my home, to my knowledge. I could use it for homemade whole-wheat pasta — and I think I probably will, because Santa brought a funny, wacky pasta tool.
But there is still a pantry full of foods bought before my conversion, in August of 2005. Now the food is getting old, and I think I ought to use it. I hate to waste food.
Technically, a lot of the larder is designated "earthquake supplies," but it does have expiration dates and needs to be cycled through every couple of years. Unfortunately, "earthquake supplies" is as much a part of my local definition as backyard baby lettuce — my terroir moves.
My taste buds have changed, though. It's getting harder and harder to imagine eating, much less enjoying, canned beans, canned tomato juice, packaged soup powder... I'm not even sure I should confess to the boxes of Kraft "Dinner" (they were on sale! — and they're really handy when finicky kids come over to eat).
There is a lot of dried "grown-up" pasta, too, and I think I'm giving myself permission to eat it. I think I would enjoy it.


Beccy said...

Why don't you eat the pasta and chuck the canned beans and packets of soup? You can feel good about eating some stuff and not so bad about throwing other stuff away!

Very impressed with the pasta machine.

Anita said...

I am in awe of your locavore ideals. But, Cookie dear, I think denying yourself the pleasure of purchases made in the past is probably going a teensy bit overboard.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, you could bring the dry goods (presuming they have some shelf life left) to the food bank, next month, no?

cookiecrumb said...

Beccy and Anita: You have both freed me up. I think, since I can afford to, I will cycle my earthquake supplies -- maybe annually, so it doesn't look like I'm trying to poison people -- to the food bank.
OTOH, we ate "two-bean" salad for lunch today. Oh, yeah. Canned beans. Not too bad. (I'm not *completely* crazy!)

Greg said...

Plant some wheat soon!Life without pasta....well it would be dull.Oh and then no bread. Heavens

Dagny said...

I must admit that I could probably live because things like rice? Pasta? Bread? Not really a huge fan of them and I actually eat them in pretty small amounts. Might also come from having too many diabetic relatives. Anyway, I think that it's lovely that you're thinking of donating the stuff to the food bank. Much better than letting it go to waste.

Anna Haight said...

IMHO better to use/give away what you have and apply new standards to things brought in anew unless there is a health issue involved. I'm still in search of local soybeans. I found flour at Full Belly Farms, but don't know its suitability for pasta.

Passionate Eater said...

Oooo, "purty" picture! And there is no shame in buying Kraft Mac n' Cheese for the earthquake supplies! Just tell people you bought it for the "macaroni" pasta only, and that you won't use the package of powdered cheese. Then you can eat it privately in the comfort of your own home.

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: I wonder what size harvest I could get from my little patio? Not sure if I want to give away the space designated for the tomatoes!

Dagny: So you're sort of low-carb by inclination. That's good.

Anna: Yup, that's the wheat I was talking about. I might end up wasting a little, but I'd like to see if it would make decent pasta. If you click on the link in this post, scroll down, you'll learn a few things about whole wheat pasta. I'll let you know how it goes.

PE: Trust me, there are deeper, darker secrets than Kraft Dinner in the privacy of my home. Once it a while, it rhymes with "otato ips."

ilva said...

I seem to remember a post about your pantry packed with strange things, I think it was when the bird flu was around. Am I right? How much do you pay me to shut up about what I saw??

cookiecrumb said...

You are absolutely right, Ilva. And bird flu hasn't gone away yet, so we've still got survival supplies. Funny thing is, every now and then we find ourselves nibbling on that stuff. The saltine crackers are long gone (which is a shame, because I was going to bribe you with a box of saltines to shut up!) :D

Anonymous said...

So here is my guess at the recipe for this pasta sauce. Tell me if I'm in the ballpark:

4 - Tbl unsalted butter

3 - garlic cloves finely chopped garlic

1- can of anchovy paste

1/2 C - chopped walnuts

1/2 C - grated parmassano- reggiano

Saute garlic in butter until soft. Add anchovy paste. Saute for another minute.

Pour sauce over hot pasta in bowl, Add walnuts and cheese and mix. Serve immediately.

cookiecrumb said...

Very good guess, Anonymous. The only difference I can argue is that we use anchovy paste from a tube. We squeeze out about three or four good inches from it. If there is such a thing as anchovy paste in a can (?), I think it would be awesome to use a whole one. (We may not be quite as generous with garlic, either, but to each his own.) Also, at the end, perhaps a little less cheese than you specified, but here we're only cooking for two.
Nice calculation. Definitely try it your way first. xxx!

Anonymous said...

I'll try your suggestions, except the garlic. Here in Southern Marin nobody seems to complain when I go crazy with the garlic. I was thinking of a can of anchovies crushed up.
I can't wait to taste it.

Thanks! Call me Orson.

cookiecrumb said...

Southern Marin! Ooh. Tiburon? Sausalito? Mill Valley (my former, despised-no-return-burg-still-love-it-heh)?
Nice to meet you, Orson.
Totally whole-wheat spaghetti: that's the ticket. (Trader Joe's! How weird, how convenient.)

Anna Haight said...

Well that pasta link took me through a couple hours of drooling -- you'll have to let us know how your chitarra pasta making works out.

Catherine said...

What should I sub for the anchovy paste? Black olive paste would probably work, eh?

I'm embarrassed to say I haven't tried whole-wheat spaghetti. Is it good?

Sadly, my kids are too finicky to eat Kraft. Sweetpea really likes thai noddles though (Thai Kitchen Garlic & Veg). My son is a marmite boy.

cookiecrumb said...

Catherine: Black olive paste would be a brilliant sub. Whole wheat spaghetti is good, but the texture is rougher than plain white. (I think it was Trader Joe's.) We like the chopped walnuts on it to sort of play along with (or disguise) that texture.
Wow. Marmite, eh? Clever boy. And Thai. Clever girl.
I don't have kids but getting kids to eat -- what an interesting story.

Katie said...

This sounds really good - and all pantry stuff.
I've just found whole wheat pasta here and I love it!

cookiecrumb said...

Katie: I am a victim of my pantry. I will prevail. Oh, darn, fresh food is about to "surge" (that word) in the farmers market.