Thursday, April 10, 2008

DM Takes on Moving: Cupboard Inventory

Woohoo, it's another series on DM! Last weekend we went on a preliminary home hunting trip to VA, which left Ed excited and me overwhelmed. This morning I had an excellent conversation at the park with my friend Lindsay about moving, meal planning, home organization and the like, which actually had the opposite effect, and I came home inspired to start somewhere and do something.

It feels a little too early to start packing (we are moving in July) but before you can pack you've got to sort, and this is the most time consuming part. There's a whole psychology to it, but we'll get more into that later in the series. My brother Dave and his family are moving to England - today - and even though they had professional packers and movers do the job, they themselves had to sort, sort, sort - England, short-term accessible storage unit in U.S., long-term inaccessible storage unit in U.S., give away, throw away. A few times Dave called me for a "lightning round" of "Do You Want...?", usually regarding nonperishable food items like jars, cans and pasta, which they will leave with my parents in VA. In fact, when they came to visit in February they brought me a big bag of cake mixes that I am working my way through.

So now that we are about 3 months out I decided to start in the kitchen, especially since that's a good place to work with kids around - either get them eating something at the table or give them tupperware to play with. I am a great Peter Walsh fan, and he would say doing something is better than doing nothing, and you can start small, one room at a time.

So today I got on the stepstool and emptied the cans, jars, boxes and baking mixes from the cupboards. I wrote an inventory of each on index cards and taped them on the inside of the cupboard doors. Did the same for the Bermuda Triangle freezer. Now as I do meal planning, either in advance like I should, or 5 minutes before we need to eat, I can see what we've got and try to use things up that we already have. This is probably good practice for all the time but especially when you need to literally clean out your cupboards in a few months.

Now that I know what I've got I should have no problem using up most of the stuff - chicken broth, pasta sauce, canned peaches, etc. - but a few things left me stumped and wondering how or why I got them in the first place.

So, my friends, I appeal to your combined culinary expertise. I need to know what I can or should do with:

5 to 34 ounces evaporated milk
15 to 30 ounces Bush's Homestyle Chili
12 to 28 ounces salsa verde
canned green beans (besides eating them straight - yuck)
canned black beans
Italian dressing
canned tuna (I don't like tuna salad - gag me - so I'm looking for a casserole here or something that will help to balance or neutralize the strong tuna flavor)

This is much more fun than flipping through cookbooks - someone out there must have good ideas that are tried and true. You can give them in the comments, call me or email me recipes, whatever. No idea is too simple - believe me, I haven't thought of it or else I wouldn't have asked. And I do have almost every kitchen appliance available (except an industrial grade deli slicer) so have at it. Thanks in advance and stay tuned for more of the Moving Out series as my stress level steadily escalates.


Merilee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Merilee said...

Salsa Verde.... Mmmmmm.

The best thing I can think of is "Cheap and Easy Green Enchiladas." You line a glass casserole pan with burritos (or you can make them yourself from the canned black beans...) Cover them with the cheese of your choice and the Salsa Verde. Cook for about... um, I forget that part, maybe 17 minutes on 350? You can just pretty much follow the directions on the burrito packaging. This got me through a lot of weeks of college when all we had were cheap Costco Burritos and almost no money for anything else... Ahhhh college meals... I really like this recipe though.

PS, the Merilee Cummings comment was mine, my mom was signed on my account...

Dan Cummings said...

Ahh! it happened again! (See above, it's me, really...)

Lindsay said...

So, I LOVED chatting with you this morning. So fun and so refreshing! And I'm so glad it left you inspired. Remember...if you ever want that objective opinion, I'm your girl. Plus, it would give us a chance to chat it up again before you move.

Okay, you can make Ridiculous Tacos with the chili. Just heat the chili on the stove and serve it over Fritos or tortilla chips and top with taco toppings (cheese, avocado, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc). It was staple at my house growing up.

Also, about moving...I really liked this post that I saw on Design Mom. As for the organization of it all, I especially liked her Important Documents List she linked in the article.

Disco Mom said...

Yum and yum. (Nice to see you here, Dan...) Keep them coming!

Mia said...

I make a super simple and fast ranch chicken pasta that you might be able to use the tuna for because the ranch pretty much covers up the chicken flavor, or maybe I am kidding myself. Any way here goes

Melt 6tbs (I actually do more) in a skillet and toss in some onions to sauté. Then add a packet of powdered ranch dressing making a kind of creamy sauce. Then toss in the chicken (tuna), cooked noodles, and I add cooked peas (I always use the microwave in the bag kind because that is super fast), I guess you could try green beans, but I am a bit more skeptical about those...

Growing up as kids we would heat our hot dogs up in canned chili then serve them as chili dogs (or even in a bowl as a chili) with lots of cheese. I still do this on occasion, reminds me of home!

Disco Mom said...

Mia - looks great - 6 tbs of what? I assume butter. And how much pasta roughly (like 1/2 box of rotini/macaroni or more/less?)

Maren said...

The evaporated milk can be used for creaming up any soup you make- add it at the end like you would cream- or use it in place of milk when cooking, I think. Italian dressing is a great marinade for roasted vegetables or chicken. I also use it on cold pasta salad (bow tie pasta, chicken, red peppers, blanched broccoli, feta...).
Canned vegetables of any kind do well in soup (minestrone, for instance), and the black beans are good in chili or (rinsed) on a salad of butter lettuce, cucumbers and feta with a light dressing. Chili is good on baked potatoes.

Disco Mom said...

Ha! I knew I was asking the right crowd. You are all geniuses.

Jenifuz said...

Ok Kari, here it goes! My favorite recipe that uses Evap. milk is for no bake oatmeal pudding cookies! put 2c.sugar, 6oz evaporated milk, 3/4c. butter in sauce pan or and cook until boiling. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 3 1/2c. oats and one 3.4oz instant pudding package. Any flavor you want. Mix together and drop by spoonfuls on wax paper. You can also do it in the microwave and boil for 30 seconds on hi. I like the stove better but that's because my microwave is very high up and I don't have my big glass measuring cup anymore. OH well!! Thanks for the inspiration on moving! I'm working through the sorting and packing now! Be glad you're getting a head start!

Davey said...

Hey, stop stressing out, it's weeks before you move! You’ll get it all done, you'll be fine.

As far as your list goes, here are my barely helpful suggestions. :-)

Evaporated Milk-make fudge. It's not just for Christmas anymore!

Bush's Home-style Chili. Give it to charity, it is not delicious.

Salsa Verde- I am in agreement with your other commentors, make enchiladas. In my family, we cheat. We used to roll each enchilada and then do the glass dish thing just as described, but then my mother... got some time management/lazy. We now do enchiladas like lasagna, in layers. Tortillas, chicken, cheese, salsa; repeat until baking dish is full.

Canned green beans- Sister, you are on your own. Unless you need to catch a thief like Mick Dundee, I would leave these as a housewarming gift for the next people who will live in your apartment.

Canned Black Beans. I know a pregnant vegan who practically lives off of them. Find one of those. You live in New York, it should be easy.

Italian Dressing- makes an easy marinade for chicken, and a great dressing for submarine sandwiches instead of mayo or whatnot.

Canned Tuna- Eat at home, straight from the can, lonely, when no one else is there. Drink diet soda straight from the bottle and eat low fat triscuts out of the box. Later, eat half a pie you bought on sale, telling yourself you would share it. When someone comes home unexpectedly, hide the pie in the coffee table and wait until the go to the bathroom to hide your shame.

When I put canned green beans, canned black beans and canned tuna into their recipe finder, it came out with open faced enchiladas (Mexican Lasagna) so it seams like you should mix most of your wayward ingredients into one big untested Mexican night. May I suggest waiting about 3 weeks before activating this plan? Just for aesthetic reasons. :-)

Where were you guys looking for places in VA? There's a townhouse in my neighborhood that has been abandoned. I was gonna start a Meth Lab, or a Pinocchio style Pleasure Island house, but you let me know.

Also, what's up with measurements like: 5 to 34 ounces of evaporated milk? I'm no theoretical mathmagician, but I think we might have a short term solution to world hunger. Or at least a place for Schrodinger's cat to get a little shut eye and something to nosh.

kat said...

i love black beans and corn in salads. gives the lettuce something to get more excited about than the usual ingredients.

evaporated milk would be great in some caramel corn. call me when you make it so i can come eat it, because i think that sounds delicious right now!

how daunting but fun to be moving! while a total pain, i love it when you can get into the purge mode, and do the clean sweep grab and decide immediately game. toss it or use it? no thinking - just go with the first instinct. no rationalizing ' i might use/wear it someday.' but the time i might wear it again, it will be long out of style. and i will deserve a reward for being that size again. ;)

kat said...

oh yeah. and when i first read your list and hit peaches i immediately thought of the peach cake recipe in the cake mix doctor - you throw peach puree in the batter and it makes for a super moist and delicious spring cake.

Disco Mom said...

Yes, I've long since stopped saving clothes for "when I'm that size again." You said it - when that happens they'll be out of style anyway and who wants to be thin in old dumb clothes? Tell me the recipe for caramel corn with evaporated milk, I've never done it that way.

DAVEY - wonderful to have you back! It's been so long that at first I thought it was Ed's co-worker named Davey, but I was confused by the sharp and sarcastic tone - a side of him I'd never seen? Oh, meth lab in VA, it must be DAVEY davey! Awesome to have you back on the blogs, hope all is answer your question we are looking along the orange and blue metro lines, inside the beltway mostly - arlington, alexandria, falls church, maybe vienna/tysons corner. The plan is to rent somewhere that keeps Ed's commute to Rosslyn as short as possible while taking our time to acclimate to the area and find something more long term to buy. That's the plan anyway.

I love all these suggestions - I am making my shopping list tonight for the weekly Saturday morning trip and I'm going to do several of these and make a dent in the inventory - will let you know how it all goes.

Matthew said...

I think everyone is overlooking the obvious here. Add a little ice and sugar and you have a killer smoothie. Mmmmmm, delicious!

Geary said...

Evaporated Milk -- make the chocolate sauce for hot fudge sundaes.
Bush's Chile -- I use it to make my own chili go farther, but the other suggestions sound good.
Chili Verde -- make Chile Verde -- a pork stew that I just love. I searched the Internet for recipes and found them all to be different, so I "averaged" them to get a starting point. My first try was delicious!
Black beans -- what were you thinking of! When I order burritos, I make sure they don't put any on.

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