Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Termites That Ate Christmas: Eating down the pantry

So! We had termites! Awesome!


To start the New Year off right we had the house fumigated for termites.  All food items remaining in the house were supposed to be packed in special bags, including everything in the fridge and freezer.  Ergo, we wanted to have as little as possible left to bag, because I will not be eating a damn thing nuked in the Kill All The Termites Campaign.  We packed everything left in rubbermaid bins and storing them in a friend's garage.

I love reading what other (real) people eat for dinner (I read a million cooking blogs, even though I detest cooking)(oooh, leave a comment about your favorite cooking blog!), so I have compiled a list of what a (my) real family will eat for dinner when trying to only eat what we have in the house. For the ten days prior to the end of the year, we ate down only what was in the pantry, minus eggs and milk (and Christmas Eve's Feast of the Seven Fishes).

We started out with a fairly full freezer.  We buy ginormous pallets of chicken at Costco and freeze them, and we also buy ribs and pork on sale and freeze them.  I am wayyyy sick of pork (somebody went on a pork-buying bender a while back), but this week's menu happened to be heavy on the pork, since I have been letting all the pork I didn't want to eat languish in the freezer.  In the freezer we also had broccoli, cauliflower, peas, edaname, butternut squash, frozen homemade bread, and garlic bread.  The pantry had lots and lots of pasta, chicken broth, and potatoes, and very little rice or other starch products, which was a shame, because I would have liked to eat less pasta and more quinoa, but oh well. 

Breakfast is usually cereal or waffles or oatmeal.  I make pumpkin waffles on the weekends and freeze whatever isn't eaten; the kids are adept at getting waffles out of the freezer and making their own breakfast during the week. 

Lunches were either leftovers, or pasta with butter.  There was an excessive amount of pasta with butter for the last ten days of the year.

grilled pork ribs
roasted cauliflower with garlic, lemon and parmesan cheese I looooove this recipe and we eat it all the time.  You can easily just roast broccoli or cauliflower with olive oil and salt and it is also delicious, but the roasted garlic and lemon and parmesan in this recipe just make it that much better.  Yum. 
pasta di frittata (we usually put peas, or chopped up ham in ours. It is an easy way to use up leftover pasta and make a meal out of not much.)
home made bread We make this about twice a week; it is delicious and so worth the time. 

Lemon rosemary garlic roasted chicken thighs with potatoes, made with the last frozen packet of chicken. (From here on out we eat pork. This sounds like a Ken Burns documentary.)  I made this for the first time and thought this was delicious, but it was met with whining from my children (one child went so far as to spit it out say "pfaugh! That tastes disgusting!").  But I made it again last night and every child ate it and said it was delicious.
Penne with butter. In the future I would make rice, or a loaf of fresh bread, because the lemon garlic sauce was delicious but needed something to sop up the sauce, and noodles didn't cut it.  However we were eating down the pantry and the remaining rice was planned for another night so I used noodles.  It paired fine, I just would have like something that would have soaked up the sauce a bit more. 

Tuesday (Christmas Eve): Feast of the Seven Fishes:
I am Irish and German, with a wee bit of Polish thrown in, so I do not feel bound to the dictates of All The Fish Must Be Prepared Italian Style.  It was also our first Christmas ever without our families, and we are making our own traditions, and thus three of the fishes happened to be sushi from Whole Foods.
We had a hard time finding the fishes we traditionally eat--we went to various fish markets but had to settle for similar substitutes. Now I know that I have a whole year to search alternative fish markets. 
We had:
Rainbow rolls
Broccoli with lemon and garlic (same recipe as Sunday)
Bacala (salted cod)
Pasta with tomato sauce with tuna: this sounds gross but is delicious. I cannot find the right recipe on the interwebs, but you just chop up half an onion, sauté it in olive oil, add a can of tuna packed in olive oil, a 28 oz can of peeled tomatoes, salt, and simmer for half an hour, then serve over pasta.
Fried calamari 
Fried octopus
Pumpkin pie and sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, for the sole purpose of using the baking supplies in the pantry

Wednesday (Christmas):
homemade pizza with olives, sausage and sautéed garlic kale for me and the Mister, pizza with sauce but no cheese for Peter, pizza with sauce and cheese and dipping sauce for Princess, and pizza with cheese and no sauce for Greg.  It is on my list to buy small cast iron pans to use as personal pizza pans, so that all this customizing is easier and no one's sauce-free/cheese-free pizza slice abuts someone else's cheesy/saucy slice. 

slow cooker pork ribs
rice with broccoli
homemade bread

the kids always have In-N-Out Burger on Friday nights.  The Mister and I usually have leftovers or something the kids don't like.  Today we had homemade pizza with potato and egg on top.  (I am pushing the pizza, trying to eat down the enormous supplies of flour we have. Plus, its cheap and easy.)

Grilled pork ribs
Garlic bread
baked potatoes

It was supposed to be pork loin, but (hangs head in shame) we caved and bought ground beef for hamburgers, because ugh, more pork.
We did eat an entire jar of pickles from the fridge and the remaining three tomatoes on our burgers.
Romaine salad with corn, potatoes, and tomatoes

I didn't take the pork loin out of the freezer in time for it to thaw; it was a brick of icy pork.  Instead we had pancakes and bacon.  Plus I'm sick of pork. (But not bacon. You can't get sick of bacon.)

Tuesday (New Year's Eve):
Italian tradition dictates that we eat lentils.  Therefore we usually eat lentil soup with potato croquettes, which I think is delicious but leads the children to revolt at having to eat The Worst Dinner In the Whole World.  Really, children?  Lentils is worse than eating pork a million times in one week?  I think not. 

I thought we had lentils in the pantry, but we didn't.  Instead we had pulled pork pizza.  I tossed the finally-thawed pork loin in the slow cooker with some homemade bbq sauce (my supplies were definitely dwindling; I used the last of the ketchup and soy sauce and brown sugar), and then we tossed the pulled pork and some lactose-free Havarti cheese on top of homemade pizza dough with some roasted garlic and onion.  I thought it was delicious, as did Princess.  The boys cried at the dinner table, if that gives you some idea of how they liked it.   

New Year's Day we flew to Costa Rica on a red-eye flight.  We had takeout for dinner before we left.  PORK BURRITOS, for the love. 

We did manage to eat down a significant amount of the food we had.  We finished all of the flour and sugar, most of the condiments, all of the fresh vegetables, and most of the frozen vegetables.  There was still pork left over, if you can believe it; we gave it to a friend (two packages of pork chops and one rack of ribs).  The fridge was completely empty when we left; I used the emptiness as an opportunity for washing down the whole fridge and tossing any wee bits of remaining food. 

We probably could have soldiered on eating nothing but the pantry for at least another week, but it would have been pasta and chicken broth at every meal.  Happily that is behind us and we are back to eating pork once a week instead of every meal.

Seriously, though, if you have a favorite cooking blog I'd love to hear it.  Mine is How Sweet Eats.


  1. The thought of termites scares me so much. I live in Australia and back on to the bush where those nasty bugs like to live. I hope they stay as neighbors and not move in as housemates. I hope the infestation wasn't too bad and if so I hope it was in a part of the house you want to remodel ( there has to be a silver lining sometime ). My favourite food blog is stonesoup - she does great recipes for quick easy meals with limited ingredients and shows how to vary each recipe for dairy free, egg free etc. My favourite lentil recipe is so easy and delicious. 1 large bag arugala leaves ( we call it rocket) , 1 can lentils rinsed and drained. 2 cucumbers sliced and halved , 1 red onion sliced finely, 4 tomatoes ( I love tomatoes - you can use less ) chopped, drizzle the salad with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and mix. put some on everyone's plate and then top with cooked haloumi cheese . this is so quick and easy and delicious - yum.
    congratulations on your porkathon - I could never have done it
    Kind Regards

    1. Lentils come in a can? I've never seen that! That does sound like a delicious salad.

  2. It gives me the creeps when we visit California and see the termite-infested houses in what appear to be circus tents. Favorite cooking blogs: Dinner: A Love Story and The Vegan Stoner. Enjoy!

    1. I assure you that it is more creepy to have termites swarming in your attic. But yes, the circus tents things are weird. I am sad that we did not have someone take a picture of the tented house while we were gone.

  3. I'm hoping that a trip to Costa Rica almost made up for the massive amounts of pork you consumed the week prior. Almost. My favorite cooking blogs are Smitten Kitchen and Skinnytaste. I'm not sure if they could be further apart on the spectrum.

    1. I read both of those! I have never once attempted any of the delicious-sounding recipes from Smitten Kitchen (they seem like a lot of work), but I make stuff from Skinnytaste all the time.

  4. 1. Boo termites!
    2. That is a lot of pork. And pasta.
    3. My brain cannot comprehend letting one's children enjoy the deliciousness that is In-N-Out without also enjoying it oneself.


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