DARK - art and words about night, lights out, deepest fears, and obscured perception.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kitchen Confidential

By Sandy Caribou

I initially thought it would be fun to write a post about all of the crazy weird things that I have created in the kitchen – (see: that time I baked a banana mashed with Nutella and marshmallows that was somehow inedible); but then I realized that a real contribution I can add to this blog is a list of things I have done in the kitchen that come from my inner-Jewess need to not ever, never never, waste food. Food in the garbage is a sin, it is a crime, and most of all, it is a GD waste of money (see: being poor from working in a non-profit). I feel like Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child would both be appalled and amused by this list, so I dedicate it to them.

1)   Freeze everything.
These are things that I have frozen and reused in some capacity, but get creative:

The rind from the end of most cheeses (especially parmesan).
When you finish a cheese, wrap it in saran wrap, throw the hunk into the freezer, and add it to future soups and stews (I prefer lentil and tomato). The rind will actually season and salt your food.

Vegetable refuse.
Have a bag in your freezer for vegetable skins, veggies on the brink of going bad, celery tops, onion and garlic skins, etc. Once the bag is full, make your own vegetable broth.

Animal bones and skin.
Not a vegetarian? Good. Save your skins and bones, throw them in with your veggie refuse, and make broth. You won’t regret it.

Freeze said broth into individual bags.
Do yourself a flavor favor, freeze a giant pot of broth into small usable batches. Buy some baggies, load in two cups of broth, lay flat, freeze. Enjoy your tiny batches of broth that look like the pee from Gattaca for months.

Fruit that is very ripe but you don’t’ have time to eat.
Chop it up. Freeze it.

Vegetables that are “too ripe” but you don’t have time to eat.
Chop it up. Freeze it.

Bacon. Freeze it.
I find myself buying bacon when it is weirdly on a BOGO sale. Take that bacon, make little packets of 2-3 pieces, wrap them in saran wrap, and freeze for future brunches.

Brown mushy bananas? No problem. Peel, wrap, freeze. Thanks for the future smoothies and banana bread yo.

Ground coffee can be kept freshest if you keep it in the freezer.

Coffee Ice Cubes.
Got extra coffee in the pot? Got an empty ice cube tray? Freeze that coffee and use the cubes in iced coffee.

2)   Refrigerate your bread.

Bread is delicious, but it also goes bad really quickly (especially if it is made sans preservatives). My family was always deemed as weird for storing our bread in the fridge, but I have been known to make loaves last a long time because I keep them refrigerated. Also, don’t shy away from making your own breadcrumbs, crotons, panzanella, and French toast with stale bread.

3)   Turn berries into compote or dessert.

If you have berries that are very ripe, why not try making them into a crisp or crumble? Or make a jam or compote. Beautiful, seasonal, berries covered in mold in my trash is a small tragedy to me.

4)   Make sauces.

Tomato season is upon us, and we are about to turn a corner where we will have an abundance of tomatoes. If you have too many tomatoes on your hands, make a sauce from scratch, and freeze it!

5)   Greens.

Keep asparagus upright in a glass of cold water in your fridge. The water will keep them crisp.

When you buy leafy greens, wash them in a salad spinner ASAP. Then wrap them in a dry cloth towel, and keep them in an airtight container. You will be amazed by how long you can make a head of lettuce last.

Only wash fruits and vegetables right before you are going to eat them. If you wash something and put it back in the fridge, it will mold more quickly.

Also, this.

6)   Hard boil some eggs.

I live alone, eggs come in giant boxes of 12. I’ve started hard boiling some of my eggs, and find that I am actually eating my eggs before the cross over into that suspicious grey area of not being good any more.

7)   Plan your meals / shop more frequently, but in smaller batches.

Here’s a thought, stop buying in bulk. When I lived in Europe we went to the market daily. Meals were basic, but fresh. Leftovers were almost unheard of because we were only cooking enough for each dinner every day, and only buying the freshest ingredients shortly before we cooked. If you go to the store every other day, you’ll notice yourself eating better, and wasting less food. Trust me on this.

Another tip, only buy what you can carry. I don’t drive, so when I shop, I have to carry my groceries home. I only buy what I can carry which limits impulse purchases as well as prohibits me from buying in bulk.

8)   Frittata.

Clean out your fridge by making frittata. It’s seriously one of the best ways to roll and you’ll be surprised by how awesome this can turn out with just a few basic ingredients from your fridge and pantry.

9)   Stock your spice rack based on what you will actually use.

I’ve had people ask me to help them pick out what spices they need for their homes, and my answer is always “What do you like to cook?” Let your eating patterns dictate what you need in the kitchen. There is no right or wrong.

10)  Inventory your kitchen.

We live in a world of smartphones and grocery lists tracked in apps. Why not inventory your pantry, spice rack, and fridge so that you never wind up buying things you already have when out shopping?


  1. Totally put my bread in the fridge, but these days only when I am worried about not being able to consume it in time (I also freeze it). My parents very weirdly and without announcement just started doing it one day after I moved to Chicago in Grade 11... I was very confused when they started.

    1. OMG I feel like way less of a freak knowing that someone else refrigerates their bread. We also freeze it! But I neglected to mention that...

    2. I was similarly relieved after reading this post. I don't think I could have come out of the "bread box" about my bread refrigerating without this post...

    3. Several friends have responded saying they also put their bread in the fridge/freezer. We aren't alone!!