Look Before You Cook (or Bake)

Over the past year Jason and I have greatly reduced the amount of food we let go to waste.  We didn’t set out to make this an intentional goal.  I’d like to say it came from our desire to help the environment, but in reality it stemmed from the fact that I hate cooking dinner.

Despite my disdain for being in the kitchen I was regularly cooking Sun. through Thurs. with Friday being a “whatever” day (typically grilled cheese) and Sat. being another “whatever” day or going out to eat.  I started to realize that quite often on Fridays we would have several containers of leftovers from the week that usually ended up being thrown out.  I began to stop cooking on Thurs. evenings and told Jason that Fridays would be our day to eat up the leftovers.  It has worked very well and only once in a great while do we end up not having leftovers on Friday to eat and have to rely on sandwiches or takeout.

When I arrived home from track practice today (I was actually able to run as we did a hill workout and I joined the kids!) I saw there were three bananas starting to go bad in our basket.  Randomly motivated to bake, I decided to put them to use and make banana bread.  Jason’s had a rough two weeks at work with computer issues making him stay late and banana bread is one of his favorites, so I figured it’d make a nice surprise for after work.

I learned from past mistakes (or so I thought) to always check that I have ingredients on hand prior to starting a recipe.  Shortening was the only item I had to confirm I had.  Seeing that I had more than the needed one cup I felt good to go.

Once I reached the step that involved mixing flour, salt and baking powder my trouble began.  I normally have two types of flour on hand – white unbleached flour for baking and white whole wheat flour for pancakes.  I realized the flour used for baking definitely didn’t have 2.5 cups in it.  Unsure if I was fine to use the white whole wheat flour, I figured I might as well try since I had a whole unopened bag in the cupboard.  The best by date read Jan. 19, 2018.

“Good thing I decided to use this today” I thought.  I then opened the bag to find three tiny bugs sitting on top of the flour.  Keep in mind I’m someone who rarely relies on package dates to determine whether or not to eat something; I typically rely on the “If it looks fine and smells fine then it’s fine to eat” rule.  For a fraction of a second I wondered if the bugs could be spooned out before I just became utterly disgusted by the fact that they were in there and threw the entire bag in the garbage.  So much for not wasting food right?

I have since pulled up Google images of weevils to confirm that indeed those were the bugs in my flour.  How they got into a sealed bag is beyond me and it likely would gross me out further to know.

In any case there I was in the kitchen with a bowl of mixed mashed bananas and eggs and another of beaten shortening and sugar and no flour to use.  I put the banana/egg mixture in the fridge, turned off the preheated oven and headed down the road to Nells.  My annoyance at having to go out for one item was alleviated when a nice gentleman in line ahead of me asked if I just had just the flour and let me go ahead of him.  It’s nice to be reminded there are some decent people in the world.

My banana bread is now cooling on the counter after sampling an end piece (my favorite part) and I hope Jason is surprised when he comes home.  I am now motivated to go through my cupboards and pantry to scope out what little used items may have long since expired.  I did that task recently with my spice rack as I had some that were best by 2016.  While I realize old spices can’t make me sick I know the flavor in them wouldn’t be anywhere close to as good 2 years later.  My lesson is learned yet again as I will not only be checking in advance to ensure I have ingredients on hand but that they are all usable ingredients!

Here is the recipe for the banana bread if you’re interested.  I normally use three bananas instead of five as I find the banana taste is super strong with more than three.

Have you ever had a similar experience while cooking or baking?  Do you use different types of flour depending on what you’re making?  Do you like banana bread?  Feel free to leave your thoughts below!

About Tracy

Runner. Writer. Reader. Environmental and Indigenous Peoples advocate. Work from home Workforce Specialist. NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Assistant Varsity Track Coach. Fascinated by the ocean, waterfalls and Christmas lights.
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