It’s spring. Without a doubt, despite the storms, it is spring. That means a lot of things.
Spring cleaning. Gotta love that stuff. It’s also time to go through your cupboards and check out what’s there…and what isn’t there. Make sure your canned goods have been rotated properly, and use up anything that has been hanging around a little bit too long. It’s also time to check out the spice situation. Herbs and spices also have a finite shelf life, and you really can’t use spices that you bought ten years ago and expect them to have good flavor. Like everything else, they need used up and replaced.
So what do you do with herbs and spices that have passed the prime of their lives? Pot pourri! I’m serious. They can be blended together in the same manner that you blend them to cook with, and put into a pan of water which is then lightly heated to release what is left of their aroma into your home. Its great for revitalizing your home, sort of like a spring tonic. For more ideas about which ones to combine, search through books and websites about aromatherapy, herbal magic, etc. Lay in your new stock of herbs and spices with a clear conscience! To save money, buying in bulk and splitting the package with a friend or family member can save big bucks. Often, I have found that I can purchase a full pound of fresh herbs/spices for less than 1 ounce costs in the grocery store that may have long since passed its freshest season. Try my favorites: Pendery’s and San Francisco Herb. Local health food and organic stores can also be excellent sources.
Don’t forget your dry goods too. Flour, sugar, salt, rice, beans, the list can get quite long. Rotate these items every 12 months (maximum shelf life usually.) Sugar and salt are much more inert, but the other items can become stale or rancid. For longer term storage, consider items packaged for long term storage.
Canned goods also need regular rotation. To make it simpler, try marking the cans with a marker when they are purchased with the month and year. This makes a visual inspection for anything that has been shoved to the back and forgotten much easier. There isn’t anything worse than opening a can of sweetened condensed milk and seeing a thick tan glop rather than the thick creamy goo you were expecting! Canned goods will also deteriorate over time, and cannot be expected to last indefinitely. As you re-inventory your cache of food, write out your list for re-stocking your pantry. With food prices expected to go up, a well stocked pantry might well be a better investment than the stock market!
All of that cleaning and inspecting is sure to occupy way too much time, so don’t forget to be prepared with some pantry-friendly and fast recipes to make up for the time you have to invest in your annual inspection of your supplies. One family friendly recipe is the tater puff casserole.
Tater puff casserole
- 2 lbs. ground turkey
- 2 c. bread crumbs
- 3 eggs
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 c. “angel hair” cole slaw cabbage (or finely shredded cabbage) (OPTIONAL)
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning®
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup 1 c. cheese (optional)
- 1 small package tater puffs
Mix ground turkey, vegetables, seasonings, and egg well. Add bread crumbs and mix well with hands. Pat into 9×13” baking pan firmly. Spread cream of mushroom soup over top, and sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Top with tater puffs in single layer. If desired, more Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning can be sprinkled lightly over the tater puffs.
Bake at 400°F. for 30-45 minutes or until tater puffs are golden brown.
Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Cut into generous squares and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
o 1 can cream of mushroom soup