What to do with odd items in pantry, freezer,etc.

publickmanJanuary 13, 2014

Since Booberry suggested I start this thread, I will begin with the question: What odd ingredients do you have in storage that you do not now know how to use? Since I am at work, I cannot check to see, but I think I can remember a few:

Yuzu lemons (still on the tree, but I will freeze them soon - see photo)
Leftover orange sauce (from duck)
1-1/2 quart (not Gallon!) can of sesame oil (I use it for a few things, but how will I use the gallon I just bought?)
Dende oil (Brazilian palm oil)

I'll have to look for more when I get home.

I use sesame oil in a lot of Japanese dishes plus hummus, but that's about it. I use quite a bit in hummus, however, which is why I bought large quantity, and it was cheap.

I have some beans that I cannot identify - maybe I will photograph them - or else just cook them and eat them like any other bean. I have a lot of ingredients that do not have many uses, but they all seems to have at least one!


This post was edited by publickman on Tue, Jan 14, 14 at 18:22

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My problem is that I buy an ingredient for a recipe and then either forget what the recipe was, or make it and don't care for it and then have a bunch of the ingredient left.

I bought powdered sumac to make your Algerian chicken, which I like very much, but I don't use the sumac to make anything else so I have a lot left.

I have pomegranate molasses and tamarind paste that I don't remember why I bought, and a can of boiled quail eggs in the pantry that Elery picked up at the Asian grocery to make scotch eggs with, but he never did. In my freezer there is currently 18 pounds of beef liver, but I do intend to make some more liverwurst.

And why in the world do I have SEVEN cans of sardines?

Sometime we'll talk about all the different vinegars I have too, everything from espresso balsamic to strawberry, fig, orange champagne, tarragon, rice wine, it's just crazy. And there again, most were purchased because I wanted to make a specific recipe and now have the rest of the bottle to use up.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 11:04PM
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Odd items in the freezer are for :

Odd fried rice.

Odd pizzas

Odd meatloaf

Odd salads

BTW, I cut away all those thorns on my Yuzu tree. A psychiatrist friend of mine calls those "Hostile projections".


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 11:18PM
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Annie, I posted this recipe in the other thread but I might have a better chance that you see it here, it seems good but I have not tried it yet.

I need to buy some pomegranate molasses, or borrow some from you, lol.

Here is a link that might be useful: chicken pomegranate stew

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:34AM
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If I have like a little spaghetti left over Ive been putting things like that in canning jars.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:12AM
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I'm with Annie - ingredients that go with a recipe, and I forgot where the recipe is by the time I locate, or order on-line, an ingredient/s needed for the recipe. What I call good intentions - poor execution.

But what about those six-sided Nestle Abuelita cocoa "hockey pucks"? I found them drastically discounted, and I've made yummy cocoa with them before, and I think I got them because they can be chopped and used instead of chocolate chunks or chips. Stay tuned as I look up more recipes for using them.....

Leftover from making Christmas goodies:

-Organic Cacao Butter
-Cacao Powder

I found a pint jar of Moringa powder this morning, and now that it's been located, I'll put it to good use. As if drinking wheatgrass juice wasn't weird enough - now I'll add some Moringa powder to it!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:18AM
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Annie, you can make Za'Atar to help use up your sumac:

1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp whole thyme
1/2 teaspoon whole dry marjoram
2 tablespoons sumac
2 tbsp unhulled, toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tsp dried ground lemon peel
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek
2 tsps cumin (optional)
All ground up together in a coffee grinder

You can omit any ingredients that you do not have, and you can also use some of the dried garlic you have in place of garlic powder. You do need to have either oregano or marjoram, and the sesame seeds and lemon peel are traditional. Use Za'Atar to season any kind of meat (not fish), and you can also sprinkle Sumac on Basmati or white rice, to give it a Persian flavor.

Tamarind paste can be used in Indonesian/Thai recipes or in making Oaxacan Mole, although I buy mole already made at Central Market downtown.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Annie, here's one to save for summer when you have vine-ripened tomatoes. I am guessing you'll still have some sumac powder on hand.


3 large tomatoes
2 medium size cucumbers
2 medium size Green Peppers
1 large red onion
1/2 bunch Parsley
7- 8 sprigs fresh mint
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (or less to taste)
Sumac powder

(This is not a marinated-type salad and is best when all the ingredients are chopped and mixed close to serving time.)

Wash the vegetables; peel and halve cucumbers, removing seeds; remove stems and seeds of the green peppers, and remove the surplus parts of onion, parsley and the mint. Chop the onions, green peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers into cubes about 1 cm. In size (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.). Finely chop the mint and parsley. Add lemon juice and salt to olive oil, whisk well and pour over the salad immediately before serving. Sprinkle lightly with sumac powder. *Note: if you don't have sumac powder, increase the lemon juice to 2 Tbs.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Lars, here's a salad using sesame oil that's a good side dish for grilled or baked fish.


3 cups firmly packed watercress, thick stems removed
3 Tbs. roughly chopped cilantro
3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
5 small scallions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
2 Tbs. sesame oil
4 1/2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbs. sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a skillet

Was watercress well and spin dry. Put it in a bowl wit the cilantro and scallions and set aside. Beat together the ginger, oil, vinegar, and soy sauce until well amalgamated. Toss the salad with this dressing and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. 6 servings

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:35PM
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Thanks, Ruthanna! As it turns out, I also bought excess sesame seeds, but I'm storing them in the freezer. I buy them already toasted. That looks like a really good recipe - too bad I no longer have watercress in my back yard. I kept some in the pond in Venice. I think I could substitute arugula, however, or maybe even wakame and make it a seaweed salad. My seaweed salad recipe (which I made up myself) is quite similar, except that it uses wakame instead of watercress and has red pepper flakes to make up for the spiciness of the watercress and no cilantro. I also have tons of cilantro right now - I should have planted arugula, dill, and parsley instead of some of the cilantro, but I got a six pack of cilantro, and all the plants grew to be huge.

Since it is winter, I should be able to grow dill now. I have some seeds I can try, I think.

I don't have as much sesame oil as I thought, but still quite a bit.

I might try your Turkish salad with the tomatoes I have in the yard. I also have mint but still need parsley. I bought Japanese cucumbers a few days ago to make a salad.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 6:31PM
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Mitch, that chicken sounds really good, I'm definitely going to make that. Heck, if I like it I might have to buy more pomegranate molasses, LOL.

Ruthanna, thanks for that salad idea. Actually, I'd probably just sprinkle the sumac on the tomatoes and skip the rest of it. I never considered just using it as a seasoning.

Lars, I never thought of making my own Za'tar either. It's another thing that I have a whole jar of, a free sample from Penzey's. Somehow I can't pass up the free samples, but now I know that I don't have to buy any more when mine is gone, I'll just make a batch.

Grainlady, I call it more "good intentions-bad memory". I buy the ingredient, put it in the pantry. Three months later I find it and can no longer remember what I was going to make. (sigh)

I've tried making a menu, but Elery promptly cooks something that sounds good to him and there goes my menu planning. Since he's a good cook and it's nice to have supper ready some times when I'm doing other things, I guess I'll just have to figure something else out...


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:12AM
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I can't remember why I bought galangal from Penzey's...it was for "something that looked really good". Sigh.

I have tamarind paste, too. I bought it for another batch of tamarind chutney, but haven't gotten around to making it yet. I don't think it goes bad or anything - I can't read the Thai lettering on the package.

Carob powder - oh, wait, I remember now that I bought it to make frosting for my dog's birthday cake.

A seasoning packet for salt cod fritters...I have no idea how that ended up in the pantry.

And the list goes on.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:42AM
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The one ingredient I really can't figure out what to do with it... black bean sauce. It sounds likeI could do something pretty neat with (fermented and salted soybean), and yet, I have only used it for a dish I cannot even remember if I liked it or not?!

Here is a link that might be useful: ah ha! I'm inspired. Thanks for the thread

This post was edited by rob333 on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 7:49

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 7:46AM
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No tamarind paste here but I do have one unusual ingredient in my pantry - Kurbiskernol, which translates as pumpkin seed oil.

DD brought me a bottle of it from a pumpkin festival in Germany. It's a beautiful green color and has a nutty olive oil flavor but very strong so it's used as a flavoring more than as an oil.

She said a few drops are often added to a vinegar and oil marinade for tomatoes and/or cucumbers and It was good drizzled on steamed Savoy cabbage but I'm sure there are other creative uses for it. Any pumpkin oil users out there?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:52AM
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I don't have all day to list the "odd items in pantry" so I'll just throw one out...DUCK FAT.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:00AM
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I have a bagful of tablespoon-sized blobs of duck fat and goose fat in my freezer right now. They're great for caramelizing onions or cabbage, browning meat or poultry before stewing or braising, adding one for an extra layer of flavor in split pea soup, or rubbing on corn on the cob in summer. I melted a couple to brush on the top of that Smashed Potato recipe instead of the olive oil. I don't see recipes with duck fat as an ingredient but it's a good non-pork substitute for recipes using bacon.

I have eaten but not made French fries cooked in duck fat and they are heavenly.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:31AM
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Thank you Ruthanna, I will use some today to brown mushrooms and onions today.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 9:33AM
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That sesame dressing is like what I put on pickled radish greens. To pickle the greens I wash the greens from about two bunches of radishes. Mix them with a tsp each of salt, sugar and fish sauce. Enough water to cover. Leave overnight. Rinse and spin. Chop and dress. Reminds me a little of seaweed salad.

I started making this salad as an exercise in stinginess.. or frugality. But I really like it. As do various friends and family now...

As for pantry orphans.... I too have pomegranate syrup, sumac, korean dried pepper, odd vinegars, weird canned soups etc.... I recently threw out a box of kishik - dried yogurt bulgar combo. I decided the smell had changed from sour milk to sour milk rancid wheat. Yuck.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Galangal root is used in a lot of Thai dishes, but you can generally substitute ginger root for a similar flavor. I have both dried and frozen galangal, and I use it when I make Tom Yom soup, which also uses Kafir Lime leaves and lemongrass from my yard. However, I also have a jar of Tom Yom soup paste that includes galangal, Kafir lime, and lemongrass in it and is much easier to use. When I make Thai dishes with these three ingredients, I simmer them in stock or water and them remove them, as they really are not edible and only need to impart flavor. I also have lemongrass in a tube that is a lot more convenient than cutting lemongrass from my yard and crushing it.

Korean dried pepper is an essential ingredient for making kimchee, but I have not done that yet. I need to get a ceramic pot for that, I think. I've been buying it but lately have been thinking that I could make better. My favorite brand does not seem to taste the way it used to.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:38PM
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I have always thought of buying a Kaffir Lime tree, but I have no more room in the house. I do have a Persian (Bearrs) Lime and a Mexican Lime (Key Lime) - could I use leaves from either of those as a passable substitute?

Has anyone else tried that?

The idea for soup sounds good. I have a pot of lemongrass growing in the living room, and I should use more before the cats eat it all. I had no idea they love the flavor.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 6:06AM
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Lars, thanks for the tip on Tom Yom soup paste! I am challenged to get galangal and lemon grass for my Tom Ka Gai. At your suggestion I even planted lemon grass last year without success; it's huge but doesn't have a usable stock.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Well, I have tahini sauce. I did use it for its intended purpose, but still have half a jar left. I also bought garam marsala. I think I bought it to use in an Indian / lentil dish, but now can't find the recipe!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:01PM
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I go through a lot of tahini, but I use it mostly for hummus. However, I also make a Lemon Tahini Sauce that is fairly versatile:

Tahini-Lemon Sauce

2/3 cup tahini
2/3 cup yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
3 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup parsley, stems removed
dash of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne (or less, to taste)
1/8 tsp paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Put all ingredients in a small food processor and combine until onions and parsley are finely minced. Store in the refrigerator.

I make it for falafel, but I also use it as a dip and sometimes on cucumbers.

I use garam masala a lot and usually mix it with Indian curry to make a garbanzo or lentil stew. I don't use too much because it is too sweet for me, but I like using it in small amounts and then add more of the other spices that I like better, like cumin, garlic, onion, ginger, etc to give the dish enough spice. I never follow a recipe for these stews.


Here is a link that might be useful: Uses for garam masala

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:10PM
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Thanks Lars!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:41PM
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