Or: the Trials and Tribulations of an Uptown Girl with a Boyfriend from Old Europe

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Location: Basel, Switzerland

Friday, January 05, 2007

Get out of the kitchen

With my imminent move, I’m starting to clear out my pantry. It’s like clearing out the refrigerator before going on vacation. In the case of vacation, the goal is to use up food that will spoil. In the case of the move, it’s to use up as much food as possible, period.

Some things will be easy to get rid of. I can think of hundreds of recipes involving basic supplies like chicken broth, dried pasta, canned salmon, and frozen peas. Others will be more difficult. What do I do with a pound of rice flour or two bags of dried jujubes? Still others are downright impossible. There’s no way I’m going to eat two jars of peanut butter, for example. And how will I use up red bean paste when I can’t stand the stuff?

Then there's the packrat part of me that resists using up the exotic ingredients, because God only knows whether I'll be able to find them again in Switzerland.

Well, I’ll give it my best shot. I’m including the list of supplies below, in the hopes that someone will share recipe ideas, particularly for the more esoteric stuff.

Basics in excessive quantities

  • peanut butter
  • basalmic vinegar
  • semi-sweet chocolate
  • honey
  • at least 5 types of tea
  • bread crumbs
  • raw wheat germ
  • barley
  • golden raisins
  • crystallized ginger
  • dried figs
  • cocoa powder
  • sunflower seeds
  • corn syrup
  • Dijon mustard
  • Miracle whip
  • anchovies
  • artichoke hearts
  • vanilla protein powder
  • various alcohols (vodka, gin, rum, port, and wine)
Other basics
  • canned salmon
  • canned tomatoes
  • canned mango
  • farfalle
  • capellini
  • maple syrup
  • all-purpose flour
  • confectioners sugar
  • brown sugar (hardened into a lump)
  • dried chickpeas
  • frozen peas
  • frozen scallions
  • frozen bananas
  • polenta
  • active dry yeast
  • chicken broth
  • espresso
  • homemade spicy bourbon barbecue sauce
Ethnic ingredients
  • s’chüg (a spicy Middle Eastern paste similar to harissa)
  • nori (seaweed)
  • red miso
  • tofu
  • rice vinegar
  • red bean paste
  • rice flour
  • dried adzuki beans
  • dried jujubes (Chinese red dates)
  • Chinese dried noodles
  • Thai garlic-chili sauce
  • coconut milk
  • mango chutney
  • cilantro chutney
  • yellow lentils
  • guava paste
  • masa harina

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Anonymous heather said...

You could do some baking and give gifts to neighbours, co-workers etc - peanut butter cookies (dull, I know but probably gratefully received as a home-made gift). The dried fruits could be made into one of those Italian style fruit cakes where you only need a sliver with a cup of espresso. I throw balsamic vinegar into all sorts of things - it balances out the sweetness in tomato sauces with pasta - just stir a spoonful in at the end of cooking, it works well in many soups, particularly lentil-based soups - it sparks up stuff like Kale beautifully.

If you're having a party before you leave then you could make bloody mary tomatoes for a snack with a kick - cherry tomatoes, cut a cross in each of them and pour some vodka in, put in a dish and season well with salt and black pepper - add a dash of Tabasco to each tomato - refrigerate for 24 hours and then bring back to room temperature before serving.

January 6, 2007 at 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

Just ran through your list: apart from the masa harina (wazzat??) and the s'chügi you'll find everything in the bigger Swiss cities. I can vouch for that (I've lived in Zurich for 8 years).

January 8, 2007 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Masa harina is a meal made from corn that's been treated with lime. It's used a great deal in in South American cuisine - for tortillas, tamales, arepas, etc.

I probably won't get around to the bloody mary tomatoes in the near future, but I will definitely give them a try at some point. In the meantime, I'm off to bake presents...

January 9, 2007 at 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

Thanks on the clarification for masa harina. You'll most likely find it at El Maiz (Josefstrasse, Zurich), they're a specialized Mex shop, they even got piñatas. :o)

January 10, 2007 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

Yep, they got it:

January 10, 2007 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Un-Swiss Miss said...

Great! Thanks, Andreas - you've been a tremendous help! (Though, as with Holland, we may have to travel to the "big city" to find it.)

January 11, 2007 at 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

Having absolutely no luck on s'chüg :o(

Worth trying: one block further up on Josefstrasse, there's a Turkish supermarket (same side of the street as El Maíz), they have harissa, both in tubes and cans.
If they don't know, try the Lebanese snackbar on the other side of the street.

January 11, 2007 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

Or as a last resort, you can try your hand at making your own:
(noticed it was on a kosher website, some supermarkets (notably the Coop on Birmensdorferstrasse (near Goldbrunnenplatz, tram 9+14, bus 32) have a kosher isle. Don't remember having seen z'chug there...)

For even more variety of chilis (other kinds than at El Maíz and the Turk), at the start of Josefstrasse, there's a Thai food shop/takeaway. IOW, you virtually can get anything on Josefstrasse! ;o)

January 11, 2007 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Nadja said...

hey there - stumbled across your blog while having a peep at never mind the skiing ;-) being swiss as swiss can be I can positively assure you that you'll find anything on your list of ingredients not only in "the bigger swiss cities" (by which foreigners notoriously mean Zurich and Zurich only) but in any not-too-small supermarket. That goes for nori as well as harissa. for any Japanese ingredients, try the only real Japanese shop at the Schaffhauserstrasse... welcome to Switzerland!

February 2, 2007 at 8:40 PM  

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