When my Uncle Bill died, my Aunt Polly decided to move from New Jersey to North Carolina.
After the funeral, we all pitched in to help her get ready for the move. My big brother Homer and I were assigned to go through her pantry and fridge in the basement.
We made a discovery.
When Aunt Polly shopped for groceries, she never actually checked to see if she was out or running low. It seemed as if every two weeks or so, she purchased the same list regardless of what she had on hand.
She had jar, after jar, after jar, after jar of mayonnaise. The front jar was recently purchased and good to use. But as the jars got older and older, they got decidedly more toxic looking. The stuff in the very back looked almost radioactive.
She had enough wonky mayo to kill every picnic-goer on the Eastern seaboard.
I get it. I get really nervous if I am close to running out of something and don’t have a replacement. And I was less than conscientious about inventorying my supplies. I have gotten better, but at one point I had enough pasta to throw a spaghetti dinner for every church in North Carolina. Honestly, once I realized how much I had, I didn’t need to buy any for about a year and a half.
I’m just grateful pasta’s non-perishable and I didn’t have a malignant mayonnaise situation on my hands.
But my point is that you probably have way more food on hand than you think.
I’m sure you’ve been seeing the Bedlam that has been visited upon every food retailer as folks stock up, to hunker down.
Shelves are getting so bare that Harris Teeter, Publix, and Walmart have announced they’re all closing early every day to clean and restock. It’s like an ice and snow storm is bearing down on us, riding on a hurricane. The shelves are empty and shoppers have that intense, almost frantic look in their eyes.
Before you rush out and buy another bag of desperation provisions, go through your kitchen and pantry, and take stock. I’ll bet you the first slice of my next birthday cake that you have a pretty impressive stockpile already.
Everything is going to be cattywampus for the foreseeable future. If you’ve got kids, they’ll be home. You are probably going to be home a lot more than usual. So, get in the kitchen with your housemate, boo, or kids and make something that is usually too labor-intensive for a Tuesday night, or even the weekend.
Make your great grandmother’s special grape soda pot roast. Trot out crazy Uncle Seymour’s 9-alarm chili recipe. Work on some sourdough starter and bake up some bread.
To get you started, I’ve included my recipe for Creamy pecan pralines—delicious and dangerous; moderation, Gentle Reader.
My wish is that we’ll all get through this uncertain, anxious time safe and well. And also that you’re able to have a good time making some good food.
But I’ve noticed something that’s been bothering me.
It’s a wonky time, everything seems precarious, and it’s easy to lose your composure in the supermarket. It feels like readying for a weather event, but of course, it’s not. I totally get making sure you’ve got plenty of toilet paper.
But why does everybody need all that bottled water y’all?
Thanks for your time.
Contact debbie at email@example.com.
Creamy Pecan Pralines
3 cups chopped pecans
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
Heat oven to 350°. Spread chopped pecans out on large baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned and aromatic.
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, cream, milk, butter, empty vanilla pod, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, to 230°. Lower heat slightly if mixture threatens to boil over. Add toasted pecans and continue cooking, stirring constantly, to 236° F.
Remove from the heat; let stand for about 5 minutes. Add vanilla beans and stir with wooden spoon until mixture is thickened and slightly creamy, about 1-1 ½ minutes. Using small cookie scoop, spoon pralines onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. If mixture becomes grainy, heat and stir over medium heat for a few seconds, or until it can be easily scooped and dropped.
Makes about 4 dozen.