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Culinary Challenge: My fridge died. What should I eat at home?

t
thebq Nov 30, 2009 02:42 PM

Chow Friends - I'm new to the boards but eager to share my culinary challenge.

My fridge died and I'm resorting to making my meals on a same-day / no leftovers / no refrigerated foods basis (i.e. no eggs, yogurts, cheeses). Life will be like this for at least another 3 - 4 weeks (it's a warranty issue).

I live in NYC, so I'm fine with walking to the market each morning to pick up canned foods, a few fresh items that won't spoil, and fresh breads. I've had more garbanzo and refried beans that I can stand, so I'm hoping you all can suggest quick and easy (and cheap) recipe suggestions.

Just FYI, I don't eat meat or chicken but I enjoy fish (although canned tuna is out, as I am over my limit). And I generally try to stay on the healthier side. Anyways, this has been quite a challenge these last weeks. I can use your suggestions!

Thanks!

thebq

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  1. ipsedixit RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 02:47 PM

    Why have you crossed out eggs? They don't need to be refrigerated, esp. if you say youare "making my meals on a same-day" basis.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit
      t
      thebq RE: ipsedixit Nov 30, 2009 02:48 PM

      Well, it's just me, and I'd hate to see a pack of 6 go to waste.

      1. re: ipsedixit
        t
        thebq RE: ipsedixit Nov 30, 2009 02:56 PM

        Er, wait, do you mean that raw eggs won't spoil if left overnight?

        1. re: thebq
          jadec RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 03:21 PM

          Most countries keep eggs unrefrigerated. They can definitely last 1-2 weeks outside.

          Do you eat tofu? There are small packets of shelf-stable tofu such as these: http://www.morinu.com/product/product...

          1. re: thebq
            ipsedixit RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 07:56 PM

            Raw eggs (in the shell of course) won't spoil at room temperature for at least a week, if not more.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              ChristinaMason RE: ipsedixit Dec 1, 2009 04:31 AM

              It's my understanding that the U.S. is one of the few countries that washes the natural protective film off of eggs and refrigerates them. I'm not so sure they are as shelf-stable as in other countries.

              1. re: ChristinaMason
                t
                thebq RE: ChristinaMason Dec 1, 2009 08:47 AM

                oooh. this is an interesting turn of events.

                i'm considering buying a half-dozen carton and just see how they fare. i'll keep ya'll posted.

                1. re: thebq
                  LaLa RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 10:00 AM

                  you know the hen house doesnt have air conditioning.....lol

        2. bushwickgirl RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 03:13 PM

          I had the same problem in NYC also. It lasted for a year, not a warranty issue but a landlord one. In the meantime, I had a cooler and bought alot of ice. I shopped on an daily basis and since I do eat meat, just purchased and cooked it the same day. Lots of fruit and firmer veggies will last outside the fridge for a few days and I used canned beans, tomatoes and pasta, sardines and samon on a regular basis. I cooked much smaller portions than usual, to avoid the leftover issue. Edit: Eggs don't need to be refrigerated, as other posters have mentioned.
          I suggest getting a small cooler; then you could keep dairy for at least more than a day.
          Now with the colder weather here, maybe you could put stuff out on the fire escape, if you have one. I kept milk out on mine which was moderately successful. I had to buy it by the quart.

          Beyond that, I ended up eating canned chili and mac and cheese frequently, and because I lived in Greenpoint at that time, I got Polish food take-out on many a night. My doctor mentioned that my sodium was quite high, probably due to the mac and cheese consumption, and I should change my diet accordingly. So I finally got a new big fridge and promptly stocked it with a six of Budweiser. Took care of the sodium problem right away...

          My thoughts are with you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bushwickgirl
            t
            thebq RE: bushwickgirl Nov 30, 2009 05:37 PM

            I LOVE this cooler idea. I hadn't even thought of it. And I'm thrilled to learn that eggs don't spoil quickly. So that takes care of another protein.

            To Jadec: Thanks for the tofu tip!

          2. hotoynoodle RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 05:53 PM

            hard cheeses, like pecorino, will also be fine at room temp for a least a week, depending how warm your place is.

            you can buy small (4 oz.) packages of smoked salmon.

            tins of smoked oysters, smoked mussels; tins of salmon, mackerel, herring, escargot, sardines all come in smallish sizes.

            1. The Dairy Queen RE: thebq Nov 30, 2009 07:00 PM

              Some tofu is shelf stable, such as this one http://www.morinu.com/

              Here's a tofu recipe I like. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4341...

              How about cooking with pasta, dried mushrooms, hard cheeses? Maybe some nuts? Pine nuts, almonds, walnuts... Might be good "baking" sales on nuts this time of year.

              For a vegetable that doesn't require refrigeration, hijiki is dried and can be re-hydrated and used in stir-fries and salads.

              How about Vietnamese spring rolls? You can just buy a small amount of shrimp and vegetables as needed. The rice wrappers and vermicelli noodles are shelf stable.

              I hope this helps. Good luck!

              ~TDQ

              3 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 30, 2009 07:28 PM

                Also, not super cheap or lightweight, but small containers of pickled things might be good to have one hand--mushrooms, artichoke hearts, palm hearts, olives, etc. Since they are high in flavor (and salt, ha!), they might be very satisfying to add to pastas and sandwiches. They are shelf-stable until you open them. If you have a small cooler, I'm sure they would keep a long time even after opened, if you wanted to buy bigger jars.

                Sundried tomatoes, either dried or in oil, again, to add to pastas or sandwiches.

                Also, powdered milk isn't bad for some cooking applications, since you can't keep refrigerated milk on hand.

                Boring but true--nut butters. Here's even an intriguing cookie recipe someone posted today you could make from all shelf-stable ingredients. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4062...

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                  t
                  thebq RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 1, 2009 08:44 AM

                  wow, thanks for this recipe...looks great!

                  definitely have tons of nuts on hand for snacking during the day.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    t
                    thebq RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 1, 2009 08:50 AM

                    yes, pasta with olive oil has been a staple so far. i like the idea of adding nuts. nice way to add some protein. thanks!!

                  2. ChristinaMason RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 04:32 AM

                    do you have a windowsill, fire escape, or balcony that could serve as an ad-hoc fridge during these winter weeks?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ChristinaMason
                      iluvcookies RE: ChristinaMason Dec 1, 2009 06:36 AM

                      NYC hasn't been THAT cold the past week or 2. It was 62 F last Saturday and will be in the 50s this week. The cooler and some ice is your best bet to keep a quart of milk, some eggs and cheese.

                      Most fruits are OK out of the fridge, dry pasta with oil and garlic is a favorite pantry staple of mine and the garlic can stay out of the fridge too. Or grab a bunch of fresh herbs, a little cheese from your cooler, some pine nuts and olive oil for a quick pesto.

                      1. re: ChristinaMason
                        t
                        thebq RE: ChristinaMason Dec 1, 2009 08:42 AM

                        iluvcookies is right: NYC (thankfully) hasn't been chilly enough yet, I think, but this could work in the coming weeks.

                        of course, rats / mice are an issue here...blech

                        1. re: thebq
                          bushwickgirl RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 08:53 AM

                          I guess you're not on the top floor? Although, I wouldn't put it past a NYC rat to climb up a fire escape.
                          Seriously, when I had the milk outside, I had no problems and as I wrote, I was buying small quantities of it anyway.

                      2. hambone RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 10:34 AM

                        I will add, as a boy I worked in my local market. We did not refrigerate the eggs until they went out to the customer area.

                        You can get canned salmon and canned shrimp, too. I'm thinking some hard cheese and some shrimp would fill a tasty omelet.

                        You should try one of those rental stores (like RAC.) I'll bet you can get a dorm fridge cheap. (Or try Craig's List -- I just looked and you can get one for $1-$40 on CL.)

                        1. bgazindad RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 02:29 PM

                          when we remodeled our house, our frig got shorted out and we were without a frig for weeks. I would recommend that you buy or borrow a Coleman ice chest. The newer ones claim to keep stuff cold for days and they are build taller so you can put the 20 0z containers in them upright. 40-50 quarts is a good size. They are also handy when there are power failures. I remember we ate a lot of tacos. The ice chest held mostly condiments and drinks.

                          1. chef chicklet RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 02:46 PM

                            I know that this will probably send some folks over the edge, but I make a pretty mean linquine and clam sauce using canned clams. Actually, it's quite good. I'm generous with the clams using 3 clams of chopped clams. Either Trader Joe's or Gorton's. Also use chicken broth, and clam juice, and cream ( small containers are great, but I've used milk before also). White wine, and the fresh parsley and garlic, topped with grated romano and scallions. YUM. You can also make it without the milk, and just use the bottle juice and broth in the can. I doubt you'll have leftovers.

                            Cooking for one and not having a place to store the leftovers is the real challenge. I liked the egg roll recommendation. Also lumpia, in the wrapper you can add small diced carrots and potatoes, they'll keep.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: chef chicklet
                              bushwickgirl RE: chef chicklet Dec 1, 2009 03:26 PM

                              Do not apologize for using canned clams, I have indulged as well.

                              1. re: chef chicklet
                                The Dairy Queen RE: chef chicklet Dec 1, 2009 04:08 PM

                                I always have canned clams in my pantry, for emergency dinners.

                                Chef chicklet, how about using condensed milk in your recipe in place of cream? It's shelf stable.

                                Another thing you can make easily enough is pizza. You won't have to have any leftovers because you make the crust from scratch to be the exact size you want. Top it with parm cheese, clams, olives, artichoke hearts, etc.

                                You can also use a boboli crust. Not the best, but good in a pinch.
                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                  t
                                  thebq RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 1, 2009 05:01 PM

                                  I've never been so bold as to make pizza dough from scratch. But bobli I love!

                                  1. re: thebq
                                    The Dairy Queen RE: thebq Dec 1, 2009 05:06 PM

                                    Dumb, but true, but I like to make my pizza dough in my bread machine. You just set it going in the morning before you leave for work and it's done when you get home. It's not that hard to make pizza dough from scratch (if I can do it, you can, trust me!), but it's the planning ahead (so it has time to rise) that is always the killer for me.

                                    Now, you have to own (and have storage for) for one of those stupid bread machines, but at least you can buy them super cheap at garage sales.

                                    ~TDQ

                                2. re: chef chicklet
                                  susancinsf RE: chef chicklet Dec 1, 2009 05:54 PM

                                  I make a very similar linguini with canned tuna; something I invented for spouse number one, who was alergic to clams...no cream or romano in mine, which makes it even easier, but some white wine. I know that OP said no canned tuna, but when she goes back to it...

                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                    janetofreno RE: susancinsf Dec 2, 2009 10:02 PM

                                    Funny, my boyfriend and I invented almost the same dish when we were in college and short on cash.....haven't had it in years, but suddenly it sounded good....

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