Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Most Epic Pantry Challenge Ever

I've blogged about pantry challenges before, but I've never actually described the rules for one of these. Basically, there comes a point where every foodie / enthusiastic home cook / bargain hunter collects enough items that it starts to become ridiculous. I am slightly guilty of this.

For one, I love Big Lots, and with Big Lots, many of the items you see on the shelves are a one-time-only, first-come-first-serve thing. If you see a really good deal, you pretty much have to snag it up because it probably won't be there later. Although I don't usually buy multiples of the same item to put back for later, I do sometimes, and that would explain the large amount of organic canned tomatoes I have.

Another way the pantry pileup occurs is when you love to cook, especially when it comes to authentic ethnic cooking. I have a large rack of spices. They range from smoked paprika to berbere to Chinese 5-spice to white pepper. I also have a lot of flavored vinegars, Asian cooking essentials (tamarind paste, gochujang paste, toasted sesame oil...), various flours (oh, gluten-free baking, you have really taken over my pantry!), and many different species of legumes. Yes. I said species. Lol. Also, I did to buy the occasional ingredient to make that one recipe and then I just never get around to doing it...

So, every once in awhile when I start to run out of room, I do a "pantry challenge". It basically consists of me using up as many of the ingredients in my pantry as I can, while only buying produce and the basics (tea, almond milk, etc.) at the grocery store. It typically lasts for a full month and it mostly involves me getting around to cooking all those recipes I had previously picked out and bought the ingredients for.

This pantry challenge, however, is different. That is because this is going to be my most epic challenge yet. I need to pretty much use and/or consolidate every single ingredient in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. How long will this challenge last? Well, probably about 2 1/2 months. And why such a hardcore deletion of my personal ingredient stockpile?

Because I'm moving to Georgia.

I mean, a little challenge is good for when you have a few too many cans of black beans, but when you're expected to pack up your entire kitchen and move it across multiple state lines, everything must go! So for serious this time, expect lots of ethic dishes, bean dishes, and gluten-free baking because I have a LOT of cooking to do (luckily, it's pretty much one of my favorite things, lol).

The non-vegan stuff isn't mine... but everything else is!
Of course, as I look at it now, it's not really that much stuff to use up in it's entirety...

You might be wondering (or you might not be, who knows), why the Midwest Vegan would pack up her kitchen and her person and move to the South. Well, it's because I've decided that I need a Ph.D., and the plant biology department at the University of Georgia agrees with me! Although, I'm going to be studying fungi more than plants. Truth be told, I am a girl who loves her fungus, and not just the delicious, eatin' kind either! Not only am I glad to be going to school to get an advanced degree (I've been working really hard the last couple of years with that goal in mind), I am super stoked to move to a city where there are lots of other people like me. I honestly don't fit in here. People here just don't understand why I care about recycling, or why I eat organic produce, or for that matter, why I enjoy taking a good run or dip in the pool. There is no music scene (well, in my taste.. well, actually, yeah, there's no music scene), no places that show indie flicks, no health food stores, no yoga lessons... There is nothing here in this town even remotely interesting, so instead of being like so many others I know and just "settling for" this place, I'm actually leaving it. I've found somewhere else I'd rather call home, at least for awhile.  

And since I'm pretty excited and I can hardly contain myself at the prospect of leaving this dirty little river town, I'm going to make my boyfriend take a picture of me flipping off one of the various Pony Express statues around town.

Nah. I'm just joking... Though, I will for sure take a picture of some corn. Just to be ridiculous. Then I will put it on my fridge next to the photo of me flipping off the Pony Express to remind me of what Missouri is like. I'm dramatic like that.

Let the cooking begin!


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your move and the PhD program - how exciting! I also have pantry challenges like that before I move or go on vacation. Then I wish I did that sort of thing more often!

Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

Thank you!

My pantry challenge officially started yesterday, so we'll see how it goes. :)