Stuffing the Larder

What the heck is a larder anyway? Probably where one kept fat at one time…lard = larder? Who knows.

Hello, pour yourself a big glass of wine and sit and chat for a bit.

Who am I? A housewife who thrives on shortcuts. Since getting married, I have learned — much to my amazement — how intrinsic the domestic world is to the degree of happiness shared in world of couple-dome. Who knew? When I was single, the refrigerator was where one kept perfume and bottles of vodka. The oven? hahahahaha. I had a housekeeper. Me mop? What does one wear to mop?

Then I got married. We moved to a tiny apartment in a cool city…unfortunately, when I mentioned hiring help for a 600 square foot apartment, my DH only laughed. I panicked.

I actually “Googled” how to mop a floor. Food was another area full of epiphanies for me. Husbands require feeding. A well-fed man is a very happy husband. Yea, I’m sure he would cook, but I like to do this for him…he’s grateful usually.

Good food is the foundation of a good life. The fact that we can enjoy the sensuous pleasures of what we eat, makes us human. A stellar combo of puff pastry of goat cheese and truffles is as humanizing as a day spent gazing at a Monet. It’s all about appreciation. So making a meal for someone you love, be it spouse or a group of neighbors is an act of love.

Lest you think I’m all smarmy and totally loving–I am, really, but to a point. For example, I love my husband and I love puff pastry and cheese (any cheese). However, I’m not going to ever, ever make puff pastry for him or anyone. Ever. It’s one of those recipes where it takes more than two pages to explain. That’s never a good sign. But I will happily unroll a frozen sheet of the stuff and score it into squares, placing a mound of goat cheese, a spoonful of orange marmalade and a piece of hot dog (yes!) onto each–I forgot how I came up with that, but dang, it was good–the sweet salty thing is a good thing as Martha might say. Also, tho’ not a health fanatic by any means, I love the idea of eating organic when possible. The above mentioned hot dog was organic. My philosophy is that processed foods are fine as long as you smoosh some organic good things into the pot too.

Think of it in mathematical terms: the organic kale cancels out the boxed mac and cheese you’re serving…even better if you chop the kale and add it to the mac and cheese…hey, throw in a chopped heirloom tomato or two, a little prosciutto and top with grated cheese (love the bag stuff), brown in the oven for a bit = instant gourmet entree. And in, like, 15 mins. I like that a lot.

I use things like mac and cheese…again, I am not a health fanatic as much as a fanatic for good taste and wholesome food. To me, the key component is that ephemeral state of balance…yea, right, to be honest, I am a lazy cook and a lazy housewife, besides, I get bored easily. If it takes more than an hour to prep, we ain’t eating it.

So, creative shortcuts rule in my kitchen and home.

To use shortcuts that result in amazing meals there are rules:

  1. Use the BEST ingredients you can afford–farmers markets are a good deal, because you are buying real food, you need some real food.
  2. Stock up on boxes of chicken and beef broth –these make everything taste home cooked…low sodium is better, but unless you’re dying from high blood pressure, the regular is fine.
  3. Use real butter. Margarine will kill you. I swear. Plus, butter really does taste better.
  4. Stock up on a mixture of sauce packets, you know, those ones by Knorre, McCormick, etc. They contain nothing more than seasonings and spices already mixed for you. You can use them for more than what the label says…for example, the hot taco mix by McCormick is awesome if you sprinkle some on sliced potatoes with olive oil before roasting. Just beware, a little goes a long way.
  5. Buy a decent olive oil–Safeway has a good one (really). as does Trader Joe’s.
  6. Same for a balsamic vinegar–I like Colavita. It’s cheap and tastes good.
  7. Stock up on jams and jellies (store brands are fine). I always have orange marmalade, raspberry jam and apricot on hand. These diluted with a splash of balsamic vinegar or wine make super quick glazes for fish or meat and poultry.
  8. Garlic. We all know this, right? Tons of garlic.

There you have your pantry. The next post, we’ll get stated cooking!

Published in: Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 9:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

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