So you’re wandering through the grocery store, working on checking items off of your carefully-prepared list, when lo and behold you stumble upon a highlighted, “special” item being promoted by the store. You are stuck in the throngs of other carts cued up to head down the aisle for canned goods, when the nice lady with a hair net offering food samples starts talking about this great new item that you just HAVE to try. Heck, you may as well snack while you’re at the store, right? It’s a time saver; you don’t have to have dinner now! Look at you, multitasking!  You try the magical, exclusive fruit spread, and before you know it, you’ve bought 3 jars, just certain that you’ll use them in sauces, roasts, and in creative dishes for all of the friends who are bound to drop by during the holidays. Such a smart shopper you are!

3 months later…

Pantry Line Up
The Pantry’s Unusual Suspects

CRAP!  Where the heck did all of these extraneous jars come from? How did this jar of clementine marmalade wind up in my pantry? And why in the world did I think I needed 4 of them?? Geez. I can’t just throw it away—my lapsed Catholic guilt would get me for sure. Suddenly, it’s like a twisted crime scene line up.  The unusual suspects, lying in wait to confound and taunt you from the recesses of your pantry. Now I have to figure out some kind of “Chopped” TV show scenario to use these items in a way that doesn’t wind up in a nightmare dish that combines white chocolate tomatillo sauce and strawberry rhubarb preserves (shudder).

You’ve done this, right? Fallen into the trappings of an impulse buy, or gathered otherwise unusual ingredients for a trendy new dish that caught your eye? It happens to the best of us. But when time and inspiration fade away, we’re inevitably left with a random assortment of condiments that get pushed farther into the back shelves of our pantries, only to be found when digging for some other long-lost ingredient, or when the movers are on our doorstep (not that I have ANY experience with that last one).

Included in my crazy top 10 list, somehow accumulated in the short 4 months we’ve lived in this house, are:

1. Bacon jam
2. Beer mustard
3. Truffle honey
4. Mostarda (here’s a link in case you aren’t familiar with this mystery ingredient)
5. Strawberry Rhubarb preserves
6. Muscadine jelly
7. Truffle sauce
8. Clementine marmalade
9. White chocolate tomatillo sauce
10. Balsamic glaze

Pantry Unusual Suspects
Some initial grandiose recipe ideas included using the bacon jam in a stew, the truffle honey drizzled over a hard Italian cheese, the clementine marmalade as a sauce for pork roast, and the balsamic glaze in a chicken and roasted red pepper dish. And to answer your question: YES, I have actually tried each of these ingredients separately, and was lulled into a false sense of ability and inspiration for the use of each item. Of course, since these are all still sitting on my pantry shelves, you can see how successful I was at implementing those grand ideas.

And so it begins, the brainstorm of what to do with this list of unusual suspects lurking behind the tomato sauce and packages of rice. So I want you to propose to me (I know, so soon!)!  From this cornucopia of condiments, propose a recipe idea in the comments section below that is not just palatable, but likely to actually be tasty.  I’m putting it out there to cyberspace—what ideas would YOU bring to the dinner table with this list? Whatever the most inspired recipe for one (or more!) of these crazy ingredients, I’ll make, photograph, and post—and give YOU credit for it, I promise!

Ready, set, PROPOSE TO ME!

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