Readers! As Casual Kitchen's readership continues to grow, I've been receiving more and more great questions via email, comments and Twitter. As always, I welcome your feedback, so please let me know what you think!
Regarding your Vegan Potato Peanut Curry recipe: In my local stores, you have to buy a gallon (not literally, but way more than 2 TBS) of tahini. What do you do with the rest? I would end up tossing it, so wouldn't that raise the per-serving cost?
I would appreciate a reply via e-mail. You see, I am interested in the answer & I found this recipe post in a "greatest hits" post so it is not very probable that I would find this post again to look for the answers. Thanks.
Let me first say if I succeed in reaching my goal of doubling Casual Kitchen's readership in 2011, I'm going to have a problem satisfying readers like this who expect privately emailed replies to their questions. :)
However, CK's fundamental purpose is to help readers, so I'll tackle this question in two ways: first regarding tahini specifically, and later by tackling a broader and more important question that lies behind the narrow discussion of tahini.
But back to tahini, and where to get it in smaller and more affordable sizes. First, consider looking outside your regular grocery store. Depending on the size of your community, you should be able to find a health or organic food store, a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods store--all of which should carry tahini in a range of sizes.
Better yet, visit the various ethnic or middle eastern food stores in your community. There, you should be able to find tahini in smaller sizes--and at laughably cheaper prices. As we've discussed elsewhere here at CK, the standard food retailer usually considers tahini to be an aspirational good, which means that unless you look beyond these standard retailers, you will needlessly overpay.
Finally, tahini keeps for a long time. I mean a LONG time. Do not just toss the rest. Our current 400 gram jar expires in two years, and I fully expect to ignore that expiration date for another 6-12 months afterward. PS: If you're looking for other recipes using tahini, CK ran a post of seventeen amazing hummus recipes that I guarantee will meet all the tahini needs you'll ever have.
But this brings to mind a bigger and broader question that many home cooks regularly face: what do you do with expensive leftover ingredients that are sold in quantities far in excess of your needs for a specific recipe? Four thoughts:
1) Before shelling out for an expensive ingredient, read my post How To Tell If A Recipe Is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions. Maybe you shouldn't make the recipe in the first place. If a recipe has an obscure, expensive or hard-to-find ingredient, use that as a decision factor.
2) If you still really want to make that recipe, then look for three or four other recipes that use that same ingredient. Cook them over the following days or weeks. Again, use my Five Easy Questions test to help you make a selection.
3) Scale up those recipes to consume still more of the excess ingredient. Many recipes are incredibly scalable, thus making a double or triple batch involves minimal incremental work. This is one of the key tools CK readers can use to cook far more efficiently. If you find a good recipe that's highly scalable, be sure to keep it in your cooking rotation.
4) Last, many ingredients last far longer than the expiration date says they last. Don't just pitch the rest out, assuming you won't use it. For more on this, see my post When Do You Throw Out Food--and be sure to read that post's incredibly useful reader comments too.
Readers what other thoughts would you add?
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