EDF: Home Stretch and a Call for Pizza Night

If you’ve been following along since Sunday, you know that today is Day Six (of seven) of Eating Down the Fridge. For the diehard EDFers who haven’t stepped foot into a grocery store this week, today may be the most challenging day of all. Is that crisper compartment down to the last mangy thing that used to be a carrot? Is there nary a starch to pair up with the remaining six cans of black beans? Are the remaining ingredients so seemingly incompatible and so off-putting that you run the risk of alienating the rest of the family? (A writer for the Orlando Weekly titled her column yesterday "Eating Down the Frickin’ Fridge.")

I can’t say I’ve had that experience, but I do feel like tonight will an appropriately “eating down” denouement to this week-long eating adventure. Although I’ve got EDF ideas for Saturday (both lunch and dinner), tonight we’ll really be cleaning out the larder for pizza.

As I mentioned earlier this week, my friend Leslie lent me a bag of all-purpose flour, and in return, I’ve promised her pizza as well as an opportunity to collaborate from both fridges for toppings.

Here at the Casa, we’ve got about five slices of lip-smacking locally produced bacon, a slew of yellow onions which I plan to caramelize, a hunk of feta, pickled peppers in a jar, some good olives, a tiny bit of Parm, olive oil, a can of tomato puree (and some paste to help thicken it up) and yes! some leftover kale from the other night. There may even be some jarred anchovies in the mix. Oh, and rosemary in the front yard!

I have no doubt that this motley mix of staples will marry seamlessly atop pizza dough, their unique colors, textures and flavors coming together like a beautiful mural. If you’ve got three cups of flour and a wee bit of yeast in the house, I propose that Friday night be EDF Pizza Night and we share our pizza pie stories on Monday in the blog space or on the EDF Facebook Group Page throughout the weekend. Who's game? And how are you doing in the home stretch? Talk to me in the comments area.

Pizza Dough To Save Your EDF Behind

1 cup water
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons from the jar)
Pinch sugar
Approximately 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cornmeal, for lining baking surface

Heat water until about 100 degrees -- THIS DOES NOT MEAN BOILING WATER! -- and pour into a small bowl. Sprinkle contents of yeast packet, sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour over the water. Stir until dissolved and cover bowl at room temperature, until mixture is slightly foamy, about 15 minutes.

In a larger bowl, add 1 cup flour, salt and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add yeast mixture and whisk until just combined. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and switch to a wooden spoon for stirring in between flour additions. You are looking for a soft, sticky dough that just clears the sides of the bowl. Depending on weather (humidity, heat), the amount of flour used will vary between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 cups total. It's unnecessary to use maximum amount.

Lightly dust work surface with flour and pour mixture out of bowl. Begin kneading dough in the following manner: punch (gently but firmly, but no black eyes, please), fold (in half) and turn (rotate 15 minutes on your imaginary clock, or 1/4 turn). Make this your mantra until your dough becomes a smooth, soft, springy ball, as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot, away from drafts. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.

At this point, risen dough may be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated (or frozen) for later use. (Let chilled dough warm up at room temperature for about 45 minutes before rolling and shaping.) For two pizzas, cut ball in half and work with one half at a time.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using pizza stone, place in oven and preheat now.

Wipe work surface clean of dough scraps, then dry thoroughly before rolling out dough. Flour-dust work surface and rolling pin (or empty wine bottle). Gently pound on dough so that it begins to look like a disc. After every few motions, rotate dough 1/4 turn. Roll out dough from center, continuing to rotate, careful not to tear dough. Roll to desired thinness and shape.

Dust a pizza pan or bottom side of a baking sheet with cornmeal, for texture. Fold your dough circle in half and carefully lift onto baking surface. Adjust shape of dough and begin adding tomato puree and other toppings of your choice. A final addition of salt just before baking is recommended. (If using a pizza stone, transfer prepared dough onto stone; do not remove stone from oven.)

Bake until dough makes a hollow sound when you tap the crust and is golden in color. A 12-inch pie takes about 10-12 minutes, but varies by oven. Bottom of crust should be golden. Transfer pizza to cutting board and cut into slices with a serrated knife or pizza slicer.

Makes one larger, 16-inch-ish pie or two smaller, 10-12-inchers

By Kim ODonnel |  March 13, 2009; 3:01 PM ET Eating Down the Fridge
Previous: EDF: The Princess and Her Fridge | Next: Meatless Monday: BBQ Tempeh


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Water boils at 100 degrees. But that is Celsius. It boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. I like pizza.

Posted by: corones | March 13, 2009 3:32 PM

I've been good, including opening a can of evaporated milk last night for tea, instead of stopping at 7-11 for milk on the way home - kudos to the guy for agreeing to try it. Doesn't really taste different, but definitely smells unusual!

My challenge this week was finding veggies. I got around that last night by brining 2 bags of clam base and a homemade italian loaf to a friend's house last night where she provided the salad and 2 pounds of pasta and 8 of us enjoyed dinner.

One eye of round went to 1 meal for 2 and 2 lunches, 1 family sized pkg of yellow rice of yellow rice went for the starch in 2 meals, plus the main bulk of the stuffed peppers, and the chicken on Monday made it 2 days plus lunch.

Dessert last night was leftover homemade chocolate sauce on a warmed flour tortilla with some leftover orange sugar from Saturday's breakfast rolls. I called it "Dessert Surprise With Chocolate." Tonight is a night out, and I will have to hit the store this weekend for eggs, fruit, oatmeal and produce but that's all I need. I'm going to keep eating down so that I have room to freeze berries in a couple months!!

Posted by: capecodner424 | March 13, 2009 3:43 PM

Hi Kim,
We are finishing up a short EDF challenge (we had guests on Sunday and had to do some shopping), but I think we will continue as there are plenty of goodies left--frozen veggies, homemade veggie burgers, and just about every type of grain you can imagine in the pantry! I was thinking pizza myself tonight, and I have some dough frozen from a few weeks back. Also frozen pesto cubes (from two giant market basil bunches that I couldn't resist at the end of the season) and some mozz. You mentioned kale - I have some wilty chard in the fridge. Would you cook it down or put it on raw and let it cook on the pizza? I always worry about the crust and all ingredients being cooked at the same time. Thanks!

Posted by: kadair1 | March 13, 2009 4:47 PM

I found some on the verge zuchinni in the way back of the veggie bin, plus 1/2 red bell pepper. I'm gonna combine with shallots and garlic and use to top penne. Have a bit of parmesan and some capers. I'm also going to add a tomato. That's tonight's dinner. Also using up the last of the salad greens.

I crockpotted a defrosted pork shoulder yesterday using apple juice, an onion raisins, prunes and dried apricots with some sprigs of thyme. OMG it was delicious. I reduced the braising liquid to a syrup.

Posted by: khachiya1 | March 13, 2009 4:54 PM

Actually it's day 13 here! I started on the 2nd, soon after I read your initial post, Kim. I had not gone shopping for a while before that, either - our last 2 food shopping dates were February 19 for 3 pounds a turnips, some scrapple (which we have not touch yet) and 3 dozen eggs, followed by February 26, when I got some yogurt, maple syrup and butter. I do have to say that - since I was not planning on the ETF challenge, I was out of onions so had to buy some last week (before the official challenge date started) and I have a milk subscription, with milk coming in every week (I could not stop it - and would not anyway!)

I do have a significant pantry and freezer- with many canned or frozen produce from the garden, foraged or bought in bulk last summer, as well as pork, beef, venison (my husband hunts) and poultry. And the kitchen garden is still producing some cooking greens and starting to give us salad greens again (I am in the Northern Virginia Piedmont). So maybe it was not such a challenge for me after all...

But it was interesting experiment: I was very focused on preparing good meals (we mostly work from home, so that's 3 meals a day) using only things on hands. Without the challenge, I might have been more fancy and stopped at the store to buy food on the days I was working outside the home or having meetings. I was also recording what we ate - which I normally don't do. Which is an interesting snapshot frankly. We ate a few things that I might normally not have touched and are there for "emergency" (like tuna fish cans), digging into the pasta so we can renew our stock, digging into the freezer to finish the last of the half pig we bought last year (need to before the new half pig arrives in a couple of months)... and making a few things that I have meant to make for a while and was just too lazy to make such as crackers and yogurt. Since we have the milk subscription, I used some to make yogurt (and I am now totally sold on it - no going back to store bought yogurt, except to get a new yogurt culture!) and made more farm cheese than I normally would have. We also cooked more breakfasts than we normally would have, as we had run out of cereal early. I made crepes, pancakes and biscuits more often than I would normally have. A good habit to keep!

I also learned that I need to monitor our flour quantities better (we are now quite low! No pizza for us tonight), and monitor the produce pantry better - I lost a few winter squashes because I did not check on them, and found a box of sweet potatoes (from the garden) that I forgot we had! Definitively need to better manage the food storage.

It certainly was interesting to read everybody's experience!


Posted by: rowandk | March 13, 2009 5:20 PM

This has not been my best effort for EDF, though I try to do this regularly to keep the pantry and freezer in good shape. I may make pizza tonight, but since I have two cans of Pillsbury Pizza Dough in the fridge already, I will use one of those in the spirit of EDF. But, since there is an aging bag of arugula in the crisper, I will make an arugula pesto with olive oil, a scrap of parmesan and the pine nuts that live in the freezer. I know I have other cheese to add...maybe the remnants of the feta from the store and olive salad all the way from the Central Grocery in NoLA.

Since I was so lame this week, I do intend to continue the EDF until next week, especially since I did not get around to making red lentil and potato curry! Thanks.

Posted by: BMore_Cat_Lover1 | March 13, 2009 5:37 PM

Well, tonight was great, because we were invited to my parents' house to celebrate my dad's birthday - i laughed when we got there early and each of my kids gobbled down bowls of fresh berries (the first fruits that disappeared by day 1 of EDF). My Hershey's syrup cake was a big hit, despite having used cake flour that expired in 2005 and a pouch of baking chocolate that had an odd, oozy oil texture...I was so nervous to serve this to guests, but family is family and we all wolfed it down with vanilla ice cream (also a treat, as our own ice cream stash is now gone as well. :-()

The EDF challenge has been interesting - I am exhausted from all this cooking, as I realize that I just do not cook so much normally, but it has been gratifying to see just how well we can eat just based on what we have on hand. I have to admit that I sort of miss the grocery store - unlike other posters, I actually love going food shopping as it is something I try and do alone (without the kiddies). I am now down to my last half gallon of milk, 2 eggs, and 2 onions - have run out of vanilla and confectioners sugar - so my hoarder's mentality is kicking in and I can't wait to get to the store to replace what is now missing - kind of defeats the purpose, I suppose. But I have certainly figured out which pantry items I replenish because I use them all the time, and which are there from lack of use/interest. Those I've had fun trying to use up, but don't feel the need to replace. My pantry in particular has had a real cleanse. It feels great! I hope to continue through Thursday, my normal shopping day, which will bring me to day 12. Might have to do a milk/eggs run before then.

Posted by: holdenfoodie | March 13, 2009 10:31 PM

We kept the faith tonight, though it was leftovers night. I went out for a couple of beers with a friend after work, so got back late. Mrs. Blade was wiped from the week, so she had some brie and crackers and we split some wine I picked up tonight. [Sorry, Kim, I crossed my fingers when it came to wine.] I polished off the spaghetti I made last night. Even better the day after.

There was one hard moment in the day. I dropped by a local place for coffee this morning (Best Buns in Shirlington) and it took a serious act of will to not pick up one of their baguettes. So.... good! It'll be a shame to not drop by there tomorrow for brioche.

Still, we're happy with how everything is going. A few long-neglected jars have disappeared from the pantry and the fridge. I've been forced to be more inventive with my cooking. I'll have to refine my tomatillo romesco sauce as it's a fun twist on a classic.

Tomorrow night, I'm making spinach-ricotta pie for the kiddies and we're having the meal meant for tonight. Salad to start, fried (or possibly baked) zucchini, and pumpkin ravioli with gorgonzola/mascarpone sauce.

Thanks for a great week!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 13, 2009 11:18 PM

Sadly, I cracked on Thursday and bought some milk and eggs and some fresh produce. But, when I pulled out my checkbook, I made the amazing discovery that this was my first trip to the grocery store this month. The last check I wrote for groceries was dated 2/27. I cannot believe I made it through two weeks without going to the store!

But, staying with the spirit of the challenge, we finished off the pork roast and macaroni and cheese that I made earlier in the week and used up the last of the romaine and arugula. I did use a fresh tomato and I cut up some crudite from produce I bought that day. But we also finished off some ice cream and made room in the freezer.

To corones: The reference to 100 degree water means that the water that comes into contact with live yeast should be approximately 100 degrees Farenheit, actually anywhere between 95 and 105. Hotter than that and you kill the yeast. Cooler and it does nothing to help activate the yeast and get the rising started. The problem many people have when working with yeast is that they see "hot water", boil a kettle, then proceed to kill their yeast before it even gets going.

Posted by: margaret6 | March 14, 2009 2:03 PM

I applaud everyone who is attempting the EDF - good job! I've been more mindful all week about what I've got in stock. Bacon from the freezer, sweet cherry tomatoes, and some romaine became a tasty BLT. The romaine was limp but not brown, and after a soak in cold water and a trip in the salad spinner, it was perfect.

But I have to commend Kim on her choice of pickled peppers. Mama Lil's are very popular here in Seattle, and it's nice to see them being used on the east coast. Several months ago, we found found them at some of our Big Lots stores, and for only $3! So we have a big stash.

Posted by: chilannie | March 14, 2009 2:21 PM

We finished off the challenge yesterday with some frozen ravioli and a cheese sauce along with a salad and some baked zucchini. The zucchini was a pleasant surprise. I didn't have the oil to fry them and, truth to tell, that's a bit high in fat anyway. So, I got out the mandoline to slice them thinly (1/8"), coated with egg then a bread crumb/parmesan mix, and baked them in the oven. Very nice, though they could have used a little sauce. Perhaps a dollop of marinara or piperade.

This morning I made a blueberry coffee cake. We keep some whole wheat baking mix around and had latte's with the last of our milk from the challenge. We'll have our first meal from freshly purchased goods today--I've gone into baguette withdrawal. The rest of the lunch will come from the cupboard.

There were a couple of surprises during the week. I knew I was low on canned tomatoes and onions, which was handled by reliance on tomatillos and tomato paste in a couple of recipes. Judicious use of celery helped stretch the onions. The big surprise was running out of olive oil. Making two batches of romesco and one of olive fig tapenade, nearly wiped out our supplies. I usually keep an unopened bottle around.

I think we're going to keep with some aspects of the challenge. Make more meals focusing on the contents of the larder and less "ooh, that looks nice" impulse buying at the store.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 15, 2009 11:45 AM

I fell off the wagon today on Day 7. I bought 1/2 gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a bag of oranges, and some cookies at Harris Teeter. I went out to lunch and dinner last night. So, I'm going to extend the EDF Challenge for another week.

Posted by: LittleRed1 | March 15, 2009 10:13 PM

Although I am not taking part in the EDF challenge (the mini-fridge in my dorm room would not hold enough to get me through it) I do resonate with all the comments about being resourceful and creative with ingredients. I do eat some of my meals in my University's cafeteria but I also try and keep my room stocked with food to cook with and certain supplies always seem to run out before others. I am therefore familiar with using the ends of things and adding to them other things that I would not necessarily think of, but I've found I often like these concoctions. It truly is an adventure being a resourceful cook and anyone who says cooking is boring should try it sometime, it may change their minds.

Posted by: collegegirl1 | March 15, 2009 10:33 PM

We have not been participating in the EDF due to having had a number of family issues lately and having to live day-to-day.

However, I was quite pleased that this weekend, I did manage my token participation in EDF. I had a leg of lamb that I bought for a dinner last year. After 11 months, it didn't even have any freezer burn on it, so I trimmed and cubed it, browned the meat. Deglazed with onions (that were starting to go), garlic and a leftover can of tomato paste and tossed it all in a crock pot with the potatoes that had just started to sprout and the carrots that were a bit old. Stewed it slowly all day and had a wonderful lamb stew that will hold us through this week for lunches. And I cleared a few things out of the fridge and pantry. We'll see what else I'm up to this week, but I did want to share my token effort.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 16, 2009 2:33 PM

Oops...forgot that I also used up a can of beef broth and a can of crushed tomatoes from the pantry, too.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 16, 2009 2:34 PM

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