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update – food planning aborted due to pantry moths

So I punted on Tuesday’s dinner plans – hopefully the eggplants will still be okay by Sunday.

Did not acquire more free peaches in a rare act of prudence (even if they would have been free again, I just don’t have time to even cut them up and sugar them this week. Maybe next week)

Came home last night to realize that I had a few kitchen moths so I did a pantry purge. Luckily, I grew up with a mother who was terrified of having kitchen moths, so most of my moth-friendly staples are in the fridge (all of my flour and most of my rice). But since I am sans-internet at home these days, I got all of my moth information from Meghan and my mother, each of whom has only dealt with them once. So I threw out the spices I had in plastic bags from the indian market because they are kinda floury (curry powder, ground coriander, etc.) and no one knew for sure either way, though both guessed they’d be fine. It’s cool – they were getting old. And I threw out my baking soda (the baking powder is in a canister) and corn starch and the bag of corn meal I bought 5 years ago and only used 2 Tablespoons of. I threw out my opened, but tightly clipped, bags of legumes but I did not throw out the new bags, which I suppose are just as likely to be permeable and/or infested, but meh! I did not throw out the oatmeal in a sealed plastic container, nor the basmati rice in a screw-top plastic jug. I threw out the tail end of a box of rotini, but I did not throw out the open spaghetti or lasagne noodles. And, without opening it, I think I figured out that the one thing most likely to have moths in it was the canister of bread crumbs, which hasn’t been opened in 6 months or so. So is there anything I haven’t thrown out that you think I should? What about the string of dried chilies hanging from the ceiling? Ooh, and the internet says they eat candy – I guess I’d better polish off my two fancy chocolate bars tonight.

Dinner = Fail

I ate most of my produce before heading off to Boston and then New York, and I finished off the two wrinkly potatoes (in an upcoming post) and the remaining kale earlier this week.

So yesterday and today, I have been steaming chicken dumplings that I bought frozen in Chinatown.

Fail #1 – not reading the package
How hard could it be to steam dumplings? I’ve done this before, and it’s pretty simple. The only hard part is having the water line low enough that it won’t boil up to the level of the dumplings (making them hard and chewy instead of soft and silky, but still delicious).

Well, I missed the part where the chicken meat was not pre-cooked and you should check the internal temperature. Until I was 2/3 of the way through the package (i.e. the second day of eating them). And even when I did notice, I decided that that rather than tossing the pink piece back into the steamer that it would just leak everywhere, and it was tasty anyway.

Right, so if you never see the post about mustard oil, have someone check my apartment to make sure my cat isn’t eating my salmonella-poisoned body.

Fail #2 – Overcompensating
So, once I noticed that they needed to cook a bit more, I walked off and left the pot unwatched for about eight minutes. *cue ominous music*

This was enough time for the subsequent dumplings to steam to tasty perfection.

It was also enough time for the liquid to steam away completely (in a well-covered pot) and for the bottom bamboo tray to stick to the burning non-stick coating of my pot.


So I’ve had the same cheap, thin, crappy basic apartment-warming set of pots for about four years. Really, they were cheap and crappy. And the coating was starting to wear around the edges of two of the saucepans.

But I kind of loved them. For all kinds of reasons I hadn’t been expecting to.

And now that I definitely need to replace my pots, I have to figure out whether I want quality cookware (foodie guilt!) or whether another set just the same will suit my needs.

What I like about the cheap set

  • the pots nest together, so I’d like another proper set regardless of quality
  • I love the crappy-set wee sizes – the 1 qt saucepan that exactly holds a square of ramen or 2 person quantities of hot chocolate or 1 can of campbell’s soup & the 5 qt soup pot which makes exactly the right amount of stock for one of my large airtight containers
  • I like the knob handles on my lids much more than the ones with two attachments points that you can fit your fingers in, which seem to be more prevalent in higher end lines. I think the lids stack better with just the know resting in the apex of the lid above.
  • Would you believe that I haven’t scratched the non-stick coating on the cooking surfaces at all? It’s dead easy to take care of, if you know how… and I don’t even have a dishwashing machine. The only wear points for the coating have been around the rims where the lids rest

What I would like to be better in my next set of cookware

  • I don’t like handle rivets poking into the inside cooking surface. When I was young, we had no pans that did this. The technology can’t have been lost.
  • fine, slightly more even heat distribution might be nice, but it hasn’t been much of a problem

What I would like, but can’t afford/fit in my apartment

  • I’d love me some enameled cast-iron. I’ve used my friend’s, and it’s easy to clean, surprisingly non-stick, and sexy as hell. But she could find hers at the local thrift stores and had a lot of storage space.
  • I can’t fit a full-sized stock pot, but now that I know three or four people interested in canning, a big ass pot is looking appealing. If I can just figure out where to put one.

So please offer me cookware suggestions.

Flavored cream cheese

I’ve written about flavored cream cheeses before, but my latest attempt was not an unqualified success.

So cream cheese.

Then I cut some dried tomatoes into fairly small pieces.

And shredded the last of my Double Gloucester I bought at Tesco New Years Eve.

Mixed it all up and ate it on a bagel.



Two days later, I came back with another bagel, and the cheese was very dubious, indeed.

It had turned a grey-ish brown and was a bit crackled in texture.

I almost chucked it. Bun instead, I kept thinking that it really was too soon for it to have gone off. So I poked it and sniffed it and decided it was all the fault of the tomatoes.

Apparently, you need to plump your dried tomatoes a bit before trying this, or they’ll dehydrate your cheese to the point where its texture is fine, but it looks sketchy. And the color is just unfortunate. Perhaps you just shouldn’t serve this to company.

But it was still tasty on my bagel.

It was even tastier with some chipotle sprinkled it.

More miscellany – betrayed by greens

What happens when broccoli rabe goes off
Broccoli rabe, rapini, whatever you want to call it – it’s pretty tasty. And I picked up a bunch the last time I was at the farmers’ market.

So I’ve had broccoli rabe go off once before, and you could tell because the stems got hollow and squishy.

Well, this one was pushing its lifespan, so I checked that and it was fine… possibly because these had been well trimmed by the woman selling them. I also smelled them because I remembered that there had been a cleaning solution kind of smell to the leaves, and I did not detect anything off.

So I went ahead with preparing a delicious meal.

First, I browned a slice of bacon until is was very crispy.

In a pot of water, I boiled a link of turkey sausage I pulled out of the freezer.

When the sausage was cooked through, I pulled it out of the water and pulled off the casing as soon as it was cool enough to handle. Then I sliced the sausage into 1/2″ thick rounds, and put it in the bacon fat to brown.

I also added an onion (cut in half and then sliced), some sliced garlic, and two jalepeno peppers (cut off the seeds and then sliced). Oh, and some sliced bell pepper, too.

Then into the pot of water, I dumped 2 ounces of rotini pasta and brought it back to a boil.

About 3 minutes before the pasta would be ready, I added the stems from the roughly cut up broccoli rabe.

About 1 minute before the pasta would be ready, I added the leaves and buds.

Splash some of the pasta water over the leaves to help them wilt and to add a little more liquid to the dish.

Drain the pasta and then dump the noodles in with the sausage and veggies.

I cut up and added some fresh herbs: fennel sprig and basil (and there might have been a leaf of sage or two)

I put up one portion for freezing, and I poured the rest into a bowl and sprinkled with cheddar from the farmers’ market.

And then two bites in, I got this overwhelming taste of ammonia. URGH!

This would have been a great dish, if the broccoli rabe hadn’t gone off.

Let this be a lesson: eat your greens, and eat them promptly!

I least I had already nibbled on the bacon while making the dish.


So there’s pretty much 1 recipe for green tomatoes (fried, fried with cheese and tomato sauce, fried in pie, totally fried), but there are a ton of recipes for tomatillos. And, to me, they taste pretty similar.

Can you think of any reason why I shouldn’t try tomatillo recipes with my green tomatoes?

In the dysfunctional food vein

If I make it through the night without devouring the cheese dip (even a little bit), I get blackberries with real sugar and milk for breakfast.

ETA: Did not eat more cheese dip. Had blackberries for breakfast. Harrumph – next time it’s with heavy cream! Cheese dip and tortilla chips are now safely located at work where people who are not me will eat them.

ETAA: Gad! I got into work at 8am! (I’m supposed to be in at 9am, but I thought I’d sneak in before the rain starting coming down.) And the whole rest of the week will be morning hours, too.