I emptied a jar last week.
It was while cooking my second massaman curry in about 6 weeks (as the first one was a bit too spicy, so the Search for a home-made equivalent to our awesome local Thai take-away continued)
And it wasn’t just any run of the mill jar of pasta sauce or jam; it was a jar of kaffir lime leaves.
And this gave me a happy sense of pride.
For this meant that I had been cooking enough different (and Asian leaning) recipes over the last year or so, to use a WHOLE JAR of such an exotic ingredient that I didn’t even know it existed before I saw it in a recipe (and had to go to a new Asian grocery store to find).
I guess that the Empty Jar validates that weird ingredients can and do get used in a myriad of receipes; as long as you are adventurous enough to Keep Trying New Things. And Empty Jar has also quietened that little voice in my head that whispers as I by yet another jar of curry paste (at last count I had 4 different types in my fridge), “You know you’ll only use it once and then it will sit at the back of the fridge and grow mould”; the culinary equivalent of seeing a cute top on sale and never having the right occasion to be worn. Which did make me feel better as I sourced tamarind puree and black vinegar for yet another New Recipe to try (seriously – how many types of vinegar are out there?? There’s balsamic, white, apple cider, red wine AND white wine… it goes on and on).
But Empty Jar also signifies a shift that has occured in the Basics that one has in ones fridge/pantry. Persian fetta has its own space on my fridge shelf (for spreading over wraps or adding to scrambled eggs), I have added Palm sugar to the caster/brown/white section; rice wine and fish sauce sit happily next to tomato and barbeque sauce; and if I want oil, I can choose from sesame, sunflower, peanut and good ol’ EVOO. Some might call this plethora of ingredients a bit excessive and indulgent, but I like to look at it as Expanding My (culinary) Horizons and Doing the Job Properly. Its like the thrill I had when I saw Szechuan pepper corns listed in a recipe and knew that I already had them in my cupboard; slightly different from the “oooh I’ve never cooked with THAT before” thrill, as it seems to stamp you as a Serious Foodie, rather than one who dabbles.
So to you, Empty Jar I say Thank You. I have had a lovely time experimenting with you through marinades, curries and laksas and look forward to many more delicious collaborations