I'm blessed to know many fine chefs, cooks, bakers and restauranteurs--all foodies. I've learned from them even more about food than I'd expected. I recently asked my friend Carol about her foraging experiences for foods that she keeps in the pantry and freezer. Carol is an accomplished bread baker who's breads are simply beautiful (she actually mailed me yeast a few weeks ago when I couldn't find it anywhere--I sent her coffee in return). Here's a guest post from Carol about foraging foods for a meal (we both have deep freezers which are helping to feed us).
My hubby and I are in the so-called high-risk age group, and we’re determined to stay home. On the food front, so far, so good, although our fresh produce and dairy products are about gone. Unfortunately, curbside grocery pickup doesn’t seem to work in our rural Michigan area. The one store that offers it is overwhelmed, and their website crashes with my every attempt. No grocery delivery service comes to our little town, either. However, we have a well-stocked pantry, including lots of onions and garlic, sweet and regular potatoes, various beans, grains, pasta, and canned tomatoes.
And, I just acquired six cartons of UHT shelf-stable milk (thank you, Amazon). I’m a longtime bread-baker, so I’ve always had at least fifteen pounds of various flours on hand, a good supply of yeast, plus my trusty sourdough starter. And we have enough frozen proteins, fruits, veggies, and this-and-that’s to last at least two months. For decades, both of us traveled constantly for work. Weekend time was precious, and neither of us cared to concede much of the grocery shopping. So, we got into the habit of infrequent, stock-up shopping, including lots of frozen food. Not prepared items, because I love to cook. But I’ve always kept enough frozen ingredients on hand to make lots of wholesome, satisfying meals. Our fresh foods are dwindling now, but the freezer—most recently topped off with a late-February Costco trip—is still well stocked.
Here’s a glimpse of a recent meal—foraged from my freezer and pantry. Aside from some root vegetables, I used no perishable foods. First, the frozen ingredients: A cup of homemade stock and chicken breasts, which I dry-brined for a few hours in the fridge. Also, frozen mushrooms. I wouldn’t sauté these for steak or any other dish where only fresh will do, but I use them often in soups and other dishes that get a long, slow cook.I also pulled some broccoli from the freezer. That’s a favorite frozen veg, because it retains its color and a good bite when steamed. Finally, some leftover bacon I’d diced and frozen a while back.
From the pantry: Salt and pepper, extra-virgin and blood-orange olive oils, dried thyme. Chicken base and dehydrated mushroom powder, for some concentrated flavor boost. Add fresh onions. Plus white wine, flour, sweet potatoes, and some very special granola!
As an experienced home cook, even I'm challenged for creative ways to make simple, yet delicious meals from what's on hand. Thank you, Carol for sharing a peek into how you're cooking these days.
I’m glad I could share my foraging strategy, Pat. By the way, we loved the granola-topped sweet potatoes. Highlight of the meal!