Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pantry Supplies

I recently bought a stash of magazines...Bon Appetit (even though I'm still working my way through the last one with all those glorious stews and pot pies), Delicious - Australia (with another gorgeous stew to hook me in), Saveur (the ribs on the cover got me instantly), EatingWell (for those asparagus - I'm craving Spring so badly) and the latest Donna Hay Magazine (just because I can never resist anything with her name on it.)...surprise, surprise!

I noticed that a couple of them had articles on pantry staples....so perfect for this time of year when at least the Northerners among us are often house bound due to winter weather. We've come a long way since I grew up when the only boxed anything in my mother's pantry was Kraft Dinner and canned...well we did have Campbell's chicken noodle soup and cream of mushroom that my mother used for her awesome Creamed Salmon on Toast. My mother really did have to make just about everything from scratch. I know, it was a different, slower time, but still... I want the home cooked flavor but faster!

And a couple of weeks ago I was sent a giant box full of goodies from the latest President's Choice and Blue Menu line to try and if I liked them, to share my thoughts with you.

Before I tell you about any of the products, let me state up front that:

  1. I do not get paid for mentioning any of the items you read about anywhere on my site;
  2. I am not a dietitian or nutrition expert, so I will never tell you how good something is for you, but like many an art lover, "I know what I like";
  3. I remember the lessons my father and mother taught me - "If you have nothing good to say...say nothing" and "never tell a lie" (which in my mother's mind was the very worst offense because who knew what world of crime it would lead to);
  4. I really only use this blog to write about things that make me happy, and frankly, I don't have enough time to even do that well;
  5. I've loved and used President's Choice products for years, and, naturally was excited to have them contact me and ask me to sample their newest goodies. (An aside: When my daughter moved to Chile to teach English for a year or so, one of her first emails was to tell me how thrilled she was that there were PC products in the grocery stores there!);
  6. Lastly, while I do love to cook (obviously), I also like to take short-cuts and thus having my fridge, pantry and freezer stocked with staples... (like those magazines suggest- like jars of marinara sauce, tapenade...) lets me experiment and play whenever the mood strikes me regardless of the weather or anything else that seems to get in the way of preparing a meal.

My latest favorite (not part of my new stash) is from their line of fresh pastas, imported from Italy...Trentino-alto-adige (Porcini Mushroom Tortelloni) that I made with a creamy sherry sauce(and more mushrooms, naturally). The only complaint was that I should have made more.

I am, however, sipping some very delicious Fair Trade medium roast 100% Arabica coffee from Africa that was in the package and enjoying every mouthful.

Yesterday was one of those days...feeling achy (but that's another and very uninteresting story) and not wanting to leave the house. Plus I was busy making tonight's dinner (another great slow braised short rib recipe from last month's Bon Appetit that needs overnight in the fridge before the final cooking) and a Cassata alla Siciliana . By suppertime, I had to scrounge around the kitchen. Okay, not totally true, I've been meaning to try the box of Barley & Mushrooms from the Blue Menu which the box says is high in fibre. (Note: All the Blue Menu items tell you what they're good for...like the Omega oil that's a good source of omega 3 & 6 polyunsaturates, and the On track plus protein cereal with 13g of protein per serving, but you do have to read the nutrition facts on the back - some have lots of sodium).

Back to last night's delicious dinner....the barley & mushrooms took about 30 minutes (one minute to dump the contents of the box and some liquid into a pot and the rest left to bubble on the stove to soften the barley). Although there was plenty of dehydrated mushrooms in the package, I can never have enough, so I sauteed some sliced cremini and shitake mushrooms in a little olive oil and added them to the mix just before serving. I also used low sodium chicken broth instead of water - just because, that's what I always do.

Sitting on top of the barley & mushrooms in the photo above, is what looks like potato latkes (pancakes), but are actually Quick Chicken Cutlets that were prepared in less time than it took for the barley to soften. In other words, a perfect dinner - delicious and very little effort.

Thank goodness for handy ready-to-use staples! What's your favorite time saver, always on hand staple?


Sarah said...

Oooh, lucky! I got a NoName swag kit a while back, but I like the PC blue menu stuff better... glad you enjoy it too :-)

Pam said...

Wow! A fresh stack of magazines and some new products to try out. You are one lucky girl!

Max mickle said...

Wow!!Barley & Mushrooms, this sounds good. I would also like to try the Cassata alla Siciliana recipe - without the Mushrooms. I am sure it will still taste great.The Photos are amazing... I am already feeling hungry.