My excuse is I have a very small kitchen. That’s my excuse for just about everything. Like why when you open the fridge door does it look like a wall of food. The same with the pantry door.
My excuse is I can stand in the middle of my kitchen and touch the sink, stove, counter island, and fridge (but not the pantry).
But the truth is, if the kitchen was bigger, it would still be the same. I’d just have a bigger fridge with even more stuff in it. And a bigger pantry with more things in it.
My daughter opens the fridge door, stares at all the full shelves and declares there is nothing to eat.
Of course there’s nothing to eat because the fridge is full of fruits, vegetables, and condiments, like four kinds of mustard and a similar number of hot sauces. There are jars of green, and red curry pastes; red, and white miso; chili sauce, black bean sauce, hoisin sauce; ketchup, regular mustard, and pickle relish; red salsa, green salsa, guacamole; Worcestershire sauce, horseradish; and enough jams to host the queen’s birthday tea party.
There are multiple varieties of carrots, bok choy, Napa cabbage, lettuce, peppers, leeks, onions, cucumbers, a mango, oranges, lemons, limes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple in there.
And, of course, there is butter, creamers, coconut milk, anchovies, preserved lemons, various bouillon, waters, and lots of homemade salad dressings in various quantities.
There is no milk.
I need to get some.
The pantry has no fewer than four types of rice noodles; five kinds of rice; various pastas too numerous to list; most kinds of flour; vinegars of various countries; every kind of food coloring; golden syrup, molasses, Karo; nuts, lots of nuts; baking chips of many flavors; brownie mixes; and half a bag of chips. And a bunch of other stuff that I have to use a flashlight to find.
My daughter likes to stand in front of the cupboard and shake her head in disgust.
She does not bake.
So, clearly I have a problem. This summer, when I start Meadballs as a dinner service, I will have to use a rented commercial kitchen. The concept is fresh seasonal foods. My pantry will need to be minimal, since space will be at a premium. That won’t be too difficult since the fresh vegetables will be the star, condiments will be in supporting roles.
There are times when you can turn take fresh fruits and preserve their natural flavors to use at other times of the year. This week I made some room in my freezer by pulling out a bag of frozen local sour cherries. Instead of something sweet, I turned them into an accompaniment to a pork loin roast that I had grilled. In my case, I roasted the cherries to concentrate the natural sugars, then adapted a recipe from Laurel in Philadelphia to create a conserve by adding them to a mixture of brown sugar, vinegar, miso, mustard, garlic, and port to kick dinner’s butt. Combined with roasted broccoli, this dinner was a great.
You don’t have to have sour cherries in the freezer to make this – all you need is some sour cherry preserves, which is in most grocery stores either with the jams and jellies or in the specialty food aisle.
This will turn grilled pork chops or chicken into a special dinner on a weeknight.
It will certainly be on my menu when the cherry season arrives.