I don’t want to get up on a soap box about this, but I’m climbing up there anyway. If you have old food in your refrigerator, THROW IT AWAY! When you open up the fridge and you see old food looking back at you, what do you do? You close the fridge, and you pick up the phone. No good. Old food does not get younger the longer you keep it. There is nothing wrong with an empty refrigerator; if you open the fridge and it’s empty, you’re just going to think, “somebody take me to the grocery store.”
Now this part is going to be hard for everybody, but I want you listen to me, and I want you to be strong. If you have old food in your cabinet, THROW IT AWAY! Just because dry food has a long shelf life, it doesn’t mean it can thrive for an eternity behind closed doors. Open up that bottle of Crisco, and smell it. Even Crisco has a limit. If it smells old, it is old, and it will make anything you cook taste like old Crisco. This goes for all oils, (keep them far away from the stove, and in a dark place), flour, grains, spices, some vinegars, and even baking powder. Get yourself to an international foods store, something that sells Indian or Pakastani food and look at the difference between their cinnamon and the cinnamon that might have taken up residence at your house quite a few years ago. I don’t want to make anybody feel bad, I just want you to get excited about cooking, and you can’t do that with old food. Buy things in smaller amounts if you can, and if you can get yourself to throw the old stuff away, it will get you in the mindset of eating fresh. If you freeze something, freeze it in single servings. Who is inspired to take out a gallon of frozen soup when they’re feeling a little hungry?
If you are a “never eat just pick person”, here is what you should have: hummus, all natural tortilla chips, raw peppers and carrots, low fat or whole milk yogurt (don’t you tell me that you like no fat plain yogurt, because I won’t believe you) to mix with a little garlic, grated cucumber, lemon juice and salt. You should have a can of San Marzano plum tomatoes to add after three whole garlic cloves are golden, and a few fresh basil leaves are dark green from simmering in gorgeous olive oil. For more mini meals buy one chicken breast, 4 ounces of filet, the highest quality dried pasta you can find, organic asian wheat or buckwheat noodles, some pre washed greens, a little artisanal or damn good cheese, olive oil that brings tears to your eyes, some canned beans, and some good olives. If you open your refrigerator and all of this is looking back at you, it is going to make you eat what’s in there.
If you are an “I need to eat, and I need to eat big with fifteen minutes of preparation”, here is what you do: Tie up a 5 pound roast piece of sirloin. Rub it with your olive oil. Season it well all over with kosher salt. Sear it on all sides in a heavy, oven proof pan. Stick it in the oven at 300 degrees for about forty minutes, or until a small sharp knife stuck in the middle comes feeling the same temperature as your lip when you touch one to the other. (125-130 degrees) Let the meat sit undisturbed, with one end on a wooden spoon for fifteen minutes.
Meanwhile, wilt a pound of your pre washed baby spinach with olive oil and a whole clove of garlic (get it golden first), and a pinch of kosher salt. Set aside, and wipe out the pan. Melt a few Tablespoons of butter over low heat. Whisk in a few Tablespoons of flour, and keep whisking for a few minutes, until the flour tastes cooked. Add a pinch of salt, and a cup of cold milk, a little bit at a time. Simmer until it is the consistency of a mayonnaise salad dressing. Add a grating of a whole nutmeg, and season with salt and a little black pepper. If you like cheese, grate in your favorite, or just a little parmesan. Add the spinach. Serve with buttered potatoes.
Be brave. I’m fightin’ for you.