Continuing on from my “What’s In My Pantry?”, here is a rundown of what is in my refrigerator today. We just purchased a new refrigerator… our previous refrigerator was twelve years old and “died” suddenly after a two-day power outage. It seemed a good time for a ruthless clean out.
A few of my hostas
- Milk… lots of milk for drinking and for making yogurt and cheese. I have strong feelings against the bovine growth hormone and I won’t buy milk unless the container states that it is hormone and antibiotic free. Happily, over the last several months more and more brands are offering hormone and antibiotic free milk, so we have a better price choice now.
- Orange juice… 100% pure orange juice and the kind that ISN’T made from concentrate. I usually buy juice with pulp,
:o)although my husband insists that I don’t like the pulp and I have not been able to convince him otherwise. We buy either Florida Natural or Tropicana orange juice.
- Other juice… I love the taste of V-8 Juice but even the reduced sodium is more salt than I want us to consume on a regular basis, so this is a very sometimes thing and I haven’t bought any for a while! We have tried several brands of combination vegetable/fruit juice and didn’t like them because they all seemed to have an aftertaste. I make my own V-8 type juice, which we all like a lot. I make it with much less salt.
- Butter (lightly salted because unsalted butter usually has added soy)… we buy organic butter so we can be sure it was made from milk that was hormone and antibiotic free. I use butter for baking but we have cut way down in using butter over the last several months. We use extra virgin olive oil on vegetables instead of butter, and we actually prefer it now. I also sometimes make a soft butter spread for toast, waffles, pancakes, etc. I keep a couple of boxes of butter in the freezer and only one square of butter in the refrigerator now… we don’t purchase butter very often these days because we just are not using it very much.
- Eggs… until recently we always kept a few hens and always had our own eggs, so we never had to think about E. coli or salmonella. Since I have been buying eggs (locally), I do have concerns, but we buy organic eggs and I don’t let anyone eat raw eggs any more (like licking the beaters when I’m mixing up a cake or cookies), and I am careful when handling raw eggs and any dishes or surfaces they have come in contact with. It is also important to me that the hens have been treated humanely.
- Dried eggs… I buy these in an 8-ounce container (the Deb El Just Whites brand) for when I make mayonnaise or anything else that requires eggs but no cooking. These dried eggs are 100% dried egg whites and are salmonella negative and are “pasteurized for safety.” The dried eggs mix up easily in warmish water… results are the same as with fresh eggs. I prefer whole dried eggs but the stores around here only carry the egg whites and they work very well.
- Mustard… we prefer a spicy brown-type mustard. When I find one without soy, I buy several containers. Some mustards contain hidden soy, so I usually call the manufacturer to check unlisted “propietary” ingredients. I also make mustard from scratch.
- Mayonnaise… it’s difficult (or nearly impossible) to find a mayonnaise that does not contain hidden soy, so I have been making mayonnaise for a number of years. I have tried making cooked mayonnaise but we like the uncooked types better. I make a simple mayonnaise using olive oil, lemon juice, dry mustard, dried egg, and small amounts of sugar/honey and salt. I use a food processor and the mayonnaise makes up in a matter of minutes… quite unlike the lengthy process when I was using the stand mixer or the immersion blender. We eat very little mayonnaise these days, and I make it fresh when we need it.
- Ketchup… I no longer buy ketchup, again because of the hidden soy and high fructose corn syrup. I make ketchup in fairly large batches from fresh tomatoes or smaller batches from canned cooked tomatoes and freeze it in small quantities. We think the homemade ketchup tastes much better anyway.
- Vinegar… cider and white vinegar. I do keep this in the refrigerator because it is convenient.
- Carrots, celery, cabbage, peppers, and lettuce… we grow these in our garden. I also buy organic and store these vegetables unwashed… and wash and prepare only as much as I’m going to use because I have found that vegetables last longer this way. (And supposedly keep more of their nutritive value than vegetables that are washed and cut and refrigerated.)
- Always bananas and apples… I don’t refrigerate the bananas but they seem to belong in this category.
:o)I have to admit I do consider price when buying fruit, so any other fruits I buy besides bananas and apples are usually the ones that are in season. We have two plum trees and buy apples and pears in the fall to eat and freeze. We have black raspberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes growing wild near our house. I never buy fresh berries from stores because each year we buy large quantities of strawberries and blueberries from pick-your-own farms and freeze them.
- Oranges, tangerines, grapes… I buy organic and whichever is least expensive. Right now we’re enjoying oranges.
- Tomatoes… I don’t keep tomatoes in the refrigerator either but they deserve a mention. We buy fresh tomatoes special-ordered for us by one of our small local stores. These tomatoes are grown hydroponically and organically and taste like they just came from the garden, even during late winter and early spring. In the summer we grow huge quantities of tomatoes in our own gardens, and I make sauce and juice to freeze.
- Cheese… I have had some success finding cheese that is made with hormone and anitbiotic free milk, but unfortunately many of these cheeses are off limits because they contain various forms of soy. Also, some of the cultures and rennets contain such things as propylene glycol, artificial color, sodium benzoate, acetate… and these are not listed on the cheese label. I would love to make my own cheeses, but I am finding that most (if not all) of the rennets… even vegetable rennet… contain ingredients that are not acceptable to me. I do make yogurt cheese and ricotta cheese, and I’m still looking for a more natural vegetable rennet.
- Yogurt… we make our own yogurt a gallon at a time. We use it in smoothies and as yogurt cheese and in cooking and baking. We also make an “ice cream” made from 100% yogurt that we think tastes better than ice cream made with cream.
- Yeast… I buy it in bulk and freeze all but one small jar that I keep in the refrigerator for our daily bread making.
- Pickles and relish… I’ve been making pickles and relish again. This past summer we had an outstanding crop of cucumbers and I made several types of pickles and relish. I store the jars of refrigerator pickles and relishes in the refrigerator.
- Salad dressing… I can’t buy the ready made, again because of the soy, so I make our own in small quantities and usually have a couple of types in the refrigerator. Right now we have only a tomato-based Italian type dressing, but it takes only a few minutes to mix up another type. I always have pots of basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, and sage growing inside during the winter, or the same herbs growing outside during the summer.
- Honey… and yes, I know I don’t need to keep honey in the refrigerator, but for some reason I do. We buy organic honey and I’m using it more and more in baking instead of white sugar.
- If you’ve noticed I didn’t list any deli meats or packaged luncheon meats, it’s because we don’t buy them… partly because of the soy issue but mostly because of the high salt content and the nitrites, nitrates, and other additives, all of which I try to avoid. I have VERY occasionally purchased wheat meat (seitan) hot dogs or sausage, and I’m experimenting with making these.
- Also missing… soft drinks. We stopped drinking these years ago, and this one really hurt because I do love anything fizzy! During the summer I sometimes make ginger ale using ginger root and yeast, and we drink iced tea occasionally… but mostly we drink water… LOTS of water.
I guess that’s it. I have received a lot of private e-mail about my pantry article… thanks to everyone for the great response and for the comments, and if I haven’t gotten back to you yet… I will!