Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Weird Foods List

Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme has started a 30-day makeover series. I absolutely love it. Ramit at I Will Teach You to be Rich is just finishing up something similar, but I lost interest in that one pretty early. It wasn't, well, extreme enough for me.

One of Jacob's first posts is about grocery shopping. He recommends a "staples-based" diet--eating the same few meals over and over again. I'm interested in trying this out, but according to Jacob, first I have some housecleaning to do: "Before switching to a staples based dinner plan, I recommend getting rid of all the weird things in your cupboard. The best way is to not buy anything until your last strange ingredient is gone."

One of my weak spots is a tendency to go crazy at the supermarket buying things that I've never heard of and have no use for, but that look intriguing. Since one of our usual shopping places is an ethnic grocery store with lots of weird foods, this happens pretty often. Combine that with the low-carb diet I was on for a year, and I have an impressive (scary) number of weird things in my cupboard and freezer. I don't think I can actually not buy anything until they're all gone, since a number of them are things that can't be eaten on their own, but I can at least give it the old college try.

For my own recordkeeping and your horror/amusement, I herewith provide a full list of the strange foods I need to use up (along with a few possible uses). By including these foods on my list, I do not intend to cast aspersions upon the foods involved. They are simply weird because they do not make up a regular part of my diet (i.e., I have not opened the package for a month or more).

Weird Foods/Ingredients
soy nuts, sizeable bag
unpleasant protein powder (for protein shakes)
fiber/Metamucil, orange flavor
bruschetta (found a good pasta recipe that will use the whole jar)
pork rinds
sugar-free jello (three boxes)
marshmallows
corn syrup (apparently I can make this into fake Crunchies, which I wish I'd known a year ago when I purchased the corn syrup, as I have in the interim purchased several overpriced and disappointing imported Crunchie bars)
malted milk powder
sunflower seeds (could shell and mix in with my oatmeal)
mate
kasha (there seems to be only one actual recipe that you can make with kasha, and I didn't like it. Adding raisins might make it palatable.)
grits (just made most of these into an ok grits casserole)
onion soup
cous cous
generic Slim Jims (ew)
cream soup mix (homemade, but I never use it)
soy flour (the pancakes I made with this were hideous and I haven't touched it since)
flaxseed meal, way too much (flaxseed muffins were a pretty good breakfast when I was on Atkins, but they're not good enough when you're eating real carbs)
cocoa
cornmeal
rye crackers
mint extract (failed attempt to make generic vanilla ice cream taste like mint ice cream)
molasses
honey wheat germ
TVP (God, I think I've moved twice with this stuff)
lentils, small amount
whole frozen strawberries
roasting chicken
freezer-burned hot wings
buffalo chicken skewers
French fried cheddar onions (don't ask)
dry milk (I used to use this for cooking all the time, but now we almost always have fresh milk in the house)
2 sour cream containers full of pepperoni
hamburgers wrapped in bacon (nice idea, but the bacon never seems to cook)
3 round steaks, possibly too freezer burned to eat
frozen corn
whole cauliflower, frozen in a moment of desperation just before I left on a trip
whipping cream, ditto. Less likely to defrost successfully than the cauliflower
two kinds of sugar-free jam
malt vinegar
balsamic vinegar
red wine vinegar
white vinegar (WHY? Why FOUR kinds of vinegar?)
peanut sauce
tandoori chicken marinade
mild curry paste
sauerkraut, large container
dijon mustard
Frank's hot sauce
horseradish sauce
Gum (Juicy Fruit and Doublemint, can't fathom where we got this; I never bought it)
granulated Splenda, lifetime supply

Spices
chili powder (three kinds, huge amounts of all!)
Splenda packets, 50 or so
onion powder (I thought it was the same as dehydrated onions)
thyme
rosemary
5-spice powder (from when I lived in Chinatown)
coriander seeds
pod-like spice (cardamom?)
tons of colored peppercorns
bay leaves (what IS the point?)
hamburger seasoning (R. might use this)
feta cheese
mulling spices (which one would use for making cider, which I have never made)
pizza spice grinder
steak
spice mix
Mrs. Dash (original), purchased in a wild phase when I thought I might cut down on my salt intake
Mrs. Dash (spicy), ditto

7 comments:

Carrie said...

Wow, that's quite an impressive list. There are very, very few foods that I just plain don't like, and kasha is one of them. Blech! Good luck with that one.

You should use your white vinegar for cleaning! It's so cheap and easy and ecofriendly.

Also, I'm having a solstice party in Pilsen on Friday and we could put those mulling spices to use... send me an email if you want to come!

Brandon said...

grits/cornmeal and cous cous are hardly weird ingredients. I keep them around as staples.

Like rice (for stir-fry and risotto), potatoes, and pasta, they are refrigerator/pantry velcro; anything you throw in a pan with them sticks.

That little bit of lentils and some of that frozen corn will go great in the cous cous (use the rest in that cream soup mix for corn chowder). The frozen strawberries in some creamy grits, and the frozen cauliflower in polenta using the cornmeal (and more cornmeal for cornbread for the chowder).

And why four kinds of vinegar?
malt: french fries
red: roasting/salads
balsamic: bread dipping/salads
white: well, okay, nobody really needs white vinegar.

And finally, don't forget you can mull wine too. Yum.

shoyu said...

Rachel is alive!

Working Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Working Rachel said...

@Brandon: Thanks for all the ideas...I'll have to post again when I'm down to the last few and see what you can come up with for Splenda and pork rinds. :)

@shoyu: Yup, alive and well!

Anonymous said...

Bay leaves - make a very very good addition when cooking lentils or split peas. (Remove before eating)... As lentils are such a great cheap, high protein, quick cooking food staple, you may want to look at how you can use them that way.

Example recipe: (I usually make it up as I go along)

Saute some small diced onion, carrots, celery in your pick of oil/fat...

add water and/or broth (whatever variety you have)

add fresh or frozen spinach if you like it/have it on hand

add lentils

add bayleaves/salt/pepper... whatever spices you like

cook until lentils are tender.

I like it more hearty and so usually add less broth/water than others... but it is a personal choice.

healthy/cheap/easy/yummy

stays good in the fridge for 4-5 days? I also freeze in zip lock baggies...

Working Rachel said...

@anonymous: Hmm, sounds good. Thanks for the recipe. I still have the lentils so I'll have to try it.