fall pantry-clean-out top ten, y'all

     My husband was called out of town on business... a trip slated to last three days, tops. He was in sunny California for six. Subsequently, I had some free time on my hands... you know, since husbands require quite a bit of upkeep.
     Bright and early one morning, I began the arduous task of cleaning out my pantry and food cupboards. I was inspired by a recent cleansing at work... in our commercial pantry-room.
     I'm a bit more lax in my own kitchen. I don't purge as often as I should. I've compiled a silly little list of things I discovered while cleaning. More serious organizational stuff might be useful another time, but for now, in my delirious, I-have-a-hoarding-favorite-dry-goods state, hilarity is the order of the day. (If you need REAL help organizing your pantry, look here.)
Here's the top ten:
1. I own enough dry pasta to feed Italy. The country.
2. There are nine varieties of rice in the Rice basket and not one is long-grain white. I heart: short-grain brown, long-grain black, Camargue red rice, Valencia pearl, saffron yellow, Caribbean pineapple-coconut rice mix, organic five-grain and two types of arborrio risotto rice, (Campanini and Nano.)
3. I was horrified to learn that I'm nearly out of mustard. I only found six bottles. (Read the mustard-hoarding story here.)
4. The winner of the longevity-in-the-pantry/ most-outdated item award goes to a small box of Jello brand Cook-and-Serve Banana pudding mix, dated November of 2006... An entire year before we even moved into this house. Ugh, smh.
5. If you ignore mini marshmallows long enough, they form a solid mass, taking the shape of the container they're in. Once they've assumed this shape, marshmallows are reticent to give up their new lodgings. I'm sure given a large enough quantity, you could use them as foam insulation.
6. An old, forgotten potato will eat the paint right off a pantry shelf.
7. I have a slight obsession with anything saucy and anything used to make something saucy... but I don't stop with one type of anything. Variety is the SAUCE of life. In my arsenal are several types of each: barbecue sauce, chutney, jam, relish, mustard, salsa, vinegars, oils, syrup, oriental sauces, hot sauce, flavorings and extracts. I also like things that are pickled and brined.
8. I never think to myself, "Let's bake something!" The baking section is sorely neglected. The new can of baking powder is two years old.
9. I have a lot of canned pumpkin... it's a good thing that Autumn is here! Time for Pumpkin-Apple Muffins!
10. I have more than enough, am so blessed with abundance. I'm pledging to buy less, use everything I purchase and try not to buy out every sale on imported pasta or French mustard I happen to stumble upon... (Okay, okay. I did say, TRY.)
Psalm 65: 5-11
 "You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.
You formed the mountains by your power
    and armed yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
    with their pounding waves
    and silenced the shouting of the nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth
    stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
    you inspire shouts of joy.
You take care of the earth and water it,
    making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
    it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
    for you have ordered it so.
10 You drench the plowed ground with rain,
    melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
    and bless its abundant crops.
11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
    even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
I Peter 1: 2, 3 "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."   

stir fry: a tale of the farmers' market bounty

     You never know what will turn up at your local Farmers' Market from week to week. It's very exciting in a what-the-heck-am-I-cooking?  sort of way! If your pantry is well-stocked with basic ingredients, you can whip up a healthy, satisfying meal in minutes!
     So, what do you do when you've gotten carried away again at the farmers' market? Get creative!
      Refrigerator foraging expedition produced the following: Three cups of cooked short-grain brown rice, roasted chicken carcass still plump with meat and a few whole carrots, plus oils and seasonings from the pantry.
     Occasionally, when they're on sale, I buy those tubes of spice blend or paste to keep on hand. They have a longer shelf life than fresh, seldom used items. Today, I have lemongrass and ginger pastes.   
     Locally grown goodies from the farmers' market are: Spring onions, Brussels sprout greens and mung bean sprouts. Let's stir-fry!
2 t. coconut oil
1/2 t. sesame oil
2 carrots, sliced on the bias
a few spring onions, sliced on the bias
1 garlic clove, minced
3 c. cold, cooked rice
1 c. cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
a handful of sprout greens, cut into strips
1 c. bean sprouts
1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. lemongrass paste
1 t. ginger paste
1 T. hoisin sauce
Prepare all recipe components before beginning the cooking process. Stir-frying is quite fast! The goal is for the veggies to retain their bright, fresh appearance and to still be crisp-tender to the bite.
Heat oils in bottom of wok on medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook for a minute or two, then add spring onions and minced garlic. When veggies are a little soft, turn up the heat, add rice and stir-fry rice until it begins to brown. Add chicken to heat through. Toss in sprout greens and beans sprouts. Stir food around in wok to insure even browning.
Salt and pepper everything to taste... but be very conservative with the salt at this point. We're not done seasoning and hoisin is rather salty. You can add to your dish, but never take it away once it is too salty.
Stir together lemongrass and ginger pastes and hoisin. Mix into wok ingredients and simmer for a minute or two. Taste once again for seasoning, then eat immediately.
Whether it's lunch or dinner... You're done in a snap! And look how crisp and bright those veggies look! Sigh.... I heart the Farmers' Market.