Snow is coming to Washington, DC. We are not Chicago, or Fargo, or Buffalo, and we don’t handle snow well. And this is not just a little bit of snow, but major snow — perhaps two feet. It has been seven years since we had that much snow on the way, and the city shut down for a solid week back then.
There was panic at the grocery stores yesterday, and, from all accounts, the shelves have been stripped bare. I find this amusing, since we live in a major metropolitan area, not in the wilderness — it is unlikely that people are going to starve. We should be more concerned about making sure that the homeless are sheltered and warm. The rest of us will be just fine, and statistics would indicate that a lot of us could do without a meal or two.
My only nod to the grocery issue was to pick up a half-gallon of milk, thinking that we might want hot chocolate this weekend after tromping through the snow, or I might want to make a loaf of bread, and my favorite recipe calls for a cup of tepid milk. However, otherwise, I have decided that this coming storm presents a perfect opportunity to raid my pantry.
Our pantries tend to be chock-full of really weird things, along with the requisite bags of stale chips and cans of pumpkin that we forgot to use at Thanksgiving. The corners of my pantry are always tucked with those jars of things that come in gift baskets at Christmas; I tend to feel guilty about getting rid of the fancy jams and milk chocolate truffles, and then they seem to breed like rabbits. This morning I discovered Maple Mustard Dip, Hot and Sour Wasabi Mixed Nuts, Candied Apple Caramels, Cocktail Onions, and a pound of Dried Kiwi. Now, that’s a meal.
Of course, once you get past the Kirsch Royale Chocolate-Covered Cherries, there’s a fair amount of decent stuff stashed away in my pantry. I figure that a pantry should have enough stuff in it to save your dérriére on those nights when you actually don’t have anything fresh to cook. A pantry should also include your freezer, which can be stuffed with frozen fruits and veggies, various proteins (mine are meatless, but yours may be chicken, sausages, and leftover turkey hash), and, of course, really good ice cream. I am one of those people who picks up things like frozen challah out of the “Hebrew Foods” section in the “Ethnic Aisle” (I love the way they categorize things in grocery stores). You can pull it out of the freezer in the morning, set it out to rise while you’re at work, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes when you get home. There is nothing like the smell of baking bread to make even the worst day at the office suddenly insignificant.
I have gone through my pantry today and found enough meals to get my family through the Storm of the Century and keep me out of the grocery store insanity. Even if the air is soft and warm wherever you are, check out your own pantry, and see if you have enough to ride out the next calamity. Here’s what I found:
Pasta E Fagioli: One pound of Dried Tubetti, can of Great Northern Beans, can of diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, jar of Cocktail Onions
Thai Curry Stir-Fry: Rice Noodles, can of Coconut Milk, Extra-Firm Tofu, Cashews, Red Curry Paste, Frozen Bell Pepper Strips
Cuban-Influenced Black Beans and Rice: Can of Black Beans, package of Minnesota Wild Rice, jar of Sundried Tomatoes in Olive oil, bottle of Uncle Brutha’s Fire House Sauce No. 9, supplemented with limes and onions from my produce bin
Winter Stew with Salted Apple Dumplings: Flour, Dried Apples, Dried Morels, Yves Meatless “Beef” Strips, Frozen Petite Green Peas, Frozen Sweet White Corn, Dried Plums, Mushroom Broth, Red Wine, supplemented with Yukon Gold potatoes, onions, carrots, and Brussels sprouts from my produce bin.
Garbanzo Beans with Curried Polenta: Dried Polenta, can of Garbanzo Beans, frozen shredded zucchini (from my garden last summer), dried currants, jar of Farmhouse Chutney, supplemented with frozen Garlic Naan bread and yogurt from the refrigerator.
What’s in your pantry? Let me know!