Best By

I hate wasting food. The ideal result of this sentiment is that I hack together meals that use what’s in need of being used, even if it means we’ll never have that particular meal again. The less ideal result, though, is throwing things out, and I had to do a bunch of that today. I got it into my head to clean out the cupboards, and several things weren’t just way past the sell-by date (by which I mean years past the sell-by date), they smelled off. In particular, the two bags of baker’s dried milk–“Best by September 2014” – -had to go, along with some old lentils and two bags (one unopened) of a “toffee crunch” topping I had purchased from KAF three or four years ago. I didn’t like the toffee crunch when I got it, and I kept meaning to use it on something I intended to give away, but I never did, and it smelled (and tasted) pretty bad, and the texture had turned gummy. Out it went.

Oddly enough, the one thing I would have predicted would be off–the almond paste, with a “best by” date of 2010–was actually okay, although the color had darkened to a caramel color. I intend to make king cake this week anyway, so I put it in the fridge. I was surprised it was still good; the oil in nuts can make whatever’s made from it go rancid, but maybe this had enough sugar in it to preserve it. Whatever; at least it will get used.

It was also an opportunity to do an inventory: I have been working my way through a substantial pile of cocoa powder, but there’s still quite a bit left (despite dumping some on the counter and the floor as I combined two opened bags). And there’s an opportunity for an experiment. Both bags of diastatic malt powder and the bag of malted milk powder have turned into bricks, but they don’t smell or taste off, so I’m wondering if I can essentially melt them down and turn them into syrup–combine them with water and cook them slowly, until the brick melts into the water. I don’t have particularly high hopes for this experiment, but you never know.

So, to continue with the theme, I raided the freezer as well, and tonight’s dinner is going to be lamb meatballs or patties, the cauliflower I roasted two weeks ago and ended up freezing, some carrots, and probably some rice, all spiced with coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, and roasted tomatoes. And maybe some spinach, as I purchased extra for the farm share this week.