Commandment #4: Cook most days (or, man vs. garbanzo bean)

Confession: I have made zero progress on Commandment #3, Go to bed earlier. With the move coming up, it’s just not gonna happen. Instead, I’m making the coffee a little stronger, trying to sneak naps when Pat has the kids in the bath and moving on to Commandment #4: Cook most days.

One thing I have enjoyed about being home is that I have access to my groceries all day long. I understand that this is a lame and possibly confusing statement, so allow me to elaborate. While there’s definitely a thrill in a full refrigerator right after a trip to the grocery store, I get the most satisfaction from watching the contents of the pantry or fridge disappear. It’s like I’m playing a strategy game with avocados, containers of ricotta cheese and bowtie pasta as the pawns. And when I’m home, I have much more time to plot and execute my moves.

Use up that bag of lettuce instead of finding it in the bottom of the crisper drawer, brown and watery, two weeks past its expiration date? Boom! Two points.

Throw those leftover green beans and ziti, farmer’s market grape tomatoes and a hard boiled egg on a salad for an improvised vegetarian Nicoise salad? Like a boss!

Put some cream cheese and leftover rice on a stale tortilla to turn the salmon Noah won’t eat for dinner into a bizarro Alaskan roll he’s totally into? Mother of the year.

Use up the last of a jar of Nutella AND finally use the sea salt grinder I bought to make these amazing little cookies? That we polished off in one day? Pantry champion! (Thanks for the tip, Jenny.)

The biggest wins come with the use of farmers market produce. I have a bad habit of going a little crazy at the farmers market – darting through the aisles throwing cash at the farmers like I’m Jesse on Breaking Bad, only to come home with reusable bags full of Japanese eggplant, patty pan squash and heirloom tomatoes that I have no idea what to do with.

My next challenge: to use up as much of my pantry and freezer as possible before the move. I have less than three weeks to go, and more dry goods than a survivalist on the eve of Y2K. So please, please, give me your best (vegetarian or pescatarian) recipes that will help me burn through things like

  • bulgar
  • couscous
  • wheat berries
  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • frozen green beans
  • coconut milk
  • pumpkin
  • chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

(I don’t expect one recipe to take care of all of them, though that would not all in one recipe, though that would be impressive. And probably disgusting.)

In the meantime, I’m excited for the weather to cool off this weekend so I can make two of my fall staples: Tortellini-Pesto Soup with Vegetables an Butternut Squash Enchiladas.

Oh, and more of those Nutella cookies. Definitely more cookies.