There's nothing to eat.
Oh, there's food in the house. The shelves are stocked and the fridge is full, but it's a bizarre hodgepodge of odd ingredients that somehow got left out of their intended recipe - a can of black beans forgotten from chicken nachos, sliced water chestnuts Kevin begged to be left out of the beef stroganoff (because they're crunchy), mushrooms not added to last Sunday's chicken noodle soup, 3 cans of fat-free (aack!) cream of chicken soup clearly bought by accident, 3 jars of jalApenos, frozen blueberries from last summer's pickings, and 4 potstickers (because they are packaged by the dozen and I had 8 for lunch one day). This is not to mention staples like crackers, rice, pasta, bisquick, and Pop-Tarts.
Normally, this is when I would head to Kroger to fill in the gaps with $75 worth of meat and dairy and cookies and berries.
Instead, I'm challenging myself to EMPTY the kitchen before I refill it.
(Read the rest with Alton Brown's image in your head):
Welcome to Kitchen Stadium. My name is Stephanie and I've been cooking for 26 years. My mission is to charm the palate with savory dishes for two men who couldn't BE more different.
Man One (aka The Cowboy) will eat anything as long as it's bland. Forget the spices. Forget the seasoning. Just DON'T forget the mayonnaise. Noodles and rice are fluff and just get in his way. Meat is a prerequisite for every meal, food should be served in abundance, and MUST be followed with something - anything - sweet. He wouldn't touch a Pop-Tart if it was the last item in the house (they are DRY), but will eat an entire box of Pecan Sandies in a mixing bowl full of milk for dessert. He drives through Dairy Queen 10 mornings a month and orders the Jumbo Artery-Clogging Breakfast Platter - with extra ketchup. He likes his food WET - drenched in whatever condiment is available. It's a texture thing.
Man Two (aka the Manchild, the Ginger, the Kevie-poo) is, shall we say, selective. His metabolism rivals that of a small army platoon. He wants cheese, and lots of it - especially if you combine it with noodles and rice. Spice is good - his fries are incomplete unless saturated with black pepper. Condiments are a curse - just a PLAIN burger, thank you very much. Without his Pop-Tarts, he wouldn't know the definition of breakfast. And while green beans and broccoli are fine, don't even think about serving him a brussel sprout. Oh, and most importantly, he doesn't like crunchy food. Yeah, you heard me. Crunchy food. It's a texture thing.
So my quest is to feed these two growing boys something they will both eat using only the existing ingredients in our kitchen until my cabinets look like Old Mother Hubbard's.
This week I pan-seared a salmon, mashed ONE sweet potato, baked a corn casserole (dryer than usual - no butter), grilled chicken breasts with onions & mushrooms, made turkey bacon sandwiches with jalapenos and black beans, and boiled ramen noodles with olive oil & parmesan.
So far, so good. But we're now out of all things dairy and for Man One, we are dangerously low on mayo. There are only a few chicken breasts left and possibly some lunch meat. The only veggies are frozen. We do have an abundance of oatmeal, so constipation shouldn't be a problem, and I made an emergency stop yesterday for fruit, because I have an irrational fear of scurvy.
So tonight, while Iron Chef Roberto created Lobster with a Chocolate & Peppercorn reduction garnished with Mint Leaves, I got inspired to work on Friday night's menu. I call it "Kentucky Fusion": Microwave Popcorn in a canned Cream of Mushroom Sauce, mashed with Refried Beans and Wasabi Cashews, garnished with 2 Girl Scout Thin Mints that have been hiding in the freezer since the spring of 2009.
Eat your heart out.