The Other Kind of Pantry Challenge (+ Colcannon, Reinvented)

These days, my Google Reader is filled with bloggers participating in pantry challenges. Their general goal is to avoid spending money on groceries by only using what they have in their pantries. It’s a fine goal, to be sure. But when I see their lists of pantry items (5 kinds of rice, 7 varieties of dried beans, 3 cartons of almond milk, 4 jars of various nut butters, 2 pounds of tofu, etc etc etc!) I just can’t help but think, “If only my pantry were a tenth as full as theirs!”

The sad thing is that I’m not even exaggerating. As tempting as it would be to play down my foodstuff inventory for comedic effect, the pathetic truth is that – not counting spices – I probably have less than 30 food items to my name at this moment in time, and that’s counting stuff like soy sauce and Bragg’s and ketchup. So… yeah. It’s pretty sad. Being carless in an area with less than stellar public transportation kiiinda sucks. I don’t want to ask my roomie – as fantastic as she is – for rides all the time, so I walk to the grocery store when I need food and she doesn’t. I don’t mind walking at all, even when it’s f-f-freezing outside, but it does limit the amount of food I can purchase. Plus, the grocery store within easy walking distance is rather limited in its selection of non-boring food. The bottom line is that I haven’t been to the grocery store in almost two weeks, and my pantry is takin’ a major hit.

But fear not – my limited resources don’t always result in limited creativity! Tonight I realized that if I didn’t use up a couple of potatoes, they were going to reach levels of softness that would make the Pillsbury Doughboy’s tummy seem like abs o’ steel in comparison. Obviously I had to mash them, but I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I decided to make a modified, empty-pantry-influenced version of colcannon.

Now, I’m not gonna lie – I’ve never actually eaten colcannon, which is stupid because 1. I’ve got me some Irish blood, 2. I love kale, and 3. I love taters. But theoretically it’s one of my favorite foods. Heh heh. Anyway, my sad lack of fresh veggies resulted in my using some frozen spinach in the place of kale or cabbage. Not the kind that comes in a dense block, mind, but loose leaf spinach from a bag. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad.


Now, obviously my ghetto colcannon is nowhere near as pretty as, say, Lolo’s more traditional variety. But I enjoyed it, and other than the potatoes that were on the verge of death, it didn’t really use up many of my limited pantry resources. I just boiled up two taters with some onions, then added the spinach to the mix just before the potatoes were soft. I mashed it all up with some Earth Balance, a bit of garlic powder, and – in keeping with my firm eschewing of tradition – a dash of Tabasco and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. So, was it actually colcannon? Prooooobably not. But was it good? Hell yeah! And will I be making a trip to the grocery store this weekend before my meals cross the line from “untraditional” to “downright revolting?” You better believe it.

Zebras like colcannon, too.

P.S. Isn’t my zebra bowl cute?! Best Goodwill find EVER.