My Pantry of Projects

Current projects chez moi

I’m a toothpaste-tube squeezer through and through. You know the type: we force the tube into a contortionist act just to be sure we get every last bit. Well, suffice it to say that habit extends into the kitchen where I make the most out of every ingredient.

Perhaps it’s something I picked up from my grandmother, or from working in kitchens, but most likely it stems from my lifelong desire to play with my food. So nearly every weekend I start a new project while my best friend-roomie looks on with bewilderment. But, with time, effort, and appropriate channeling of creativity, my tinkering turns practical and I’ve got a packed pantry to prove it.

A glance through my cupboard unearths it to be a sort-of ingredient halfway house as at any moment an ingredient is in the process of rebirth. Dried-out vanilla beans perfume salt or are steeping to become extract; old coffee beans infuse for my latest coffee liqueur experiment; over-the-hill herbs become frozen pesto cubes or are stashed in oil to keep things lively; and the last of citrus season is on its way to become a batch of limon-, orange-, or other citruscello. I’ve got a laundry list of projects I’ve done yet so many more I want to tackle — home-cured bacon and ricotta salata are next in rotation.

But enough about my food eccentricities, do you dabble in DIY food projects? It’s not only fun but also allows you to get the most for your food dollar. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend a classic like Joy of Cooking, a newbie like jam it, pickle it, cure it and other cooking projects, or a gander at my old friends at CHOW. So, find some free time and become a weekend food warrior — your friends will think you’re the bees’ knees and you’ll be amazed at how much creativity can come from something as mundane as reducing food waste.

DIY How To Recipes