January is a fine time to reboot your kitchen and start anew! Cleaning out your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer will allow you to get a fresh and healthy start to the New Year.
Spice purveyors would like you to change out your spices every six months. However, I suggest changing them once a year for ground spices and two years for whole spices. Really, my rule of thumb is if I can still smell the spice clearly, if it appears dry (no clumps), and if I can still taste it, we will go with it. (That said, this reboot took me through the process of finding 10 different curry powders, some as old as 15 years! What did I think I was doing, opening an Indian restaurant?!) Be sure to add to your list the spices you really need to replace. Check out Al Papp at the Spice Stop at the Peachtree City Farmers Market for thrifty, small quantity replacements; spices are great and cost only $1 each. Be sure to date them when you get them.
Clear out all of your out-of-date soups, sauces, baking items and pasta. You will be amazed at the space you will save. Hold onto some dry or canned beans for Reboot Soup.
Get rid of the holiday treats! Hold onto all wimpy, but still viable, vegetables and greens. (You will need them for Reboot Soup.)
This is Your Reboot Leftover Soup! It is meant for whatever you have in the form of veggies, beans and spices. Use whatever you have to make this comforting and filling vegetable soup, which will make you feel better. Remember, if you are using dry beans, you must soak them at least overnight prior to making this soup.
- 1 cup dry beans, navy or your choice, soaked in 3 cups of water overnight
- 1 leek, thinly sliced and washed, and/or 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 8-10 cups leftover vegetables: carrots, celery, garlic, green beans, peppers, squash, greens (whatever you have, fresh or frozen)
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, finely diced
- 2 cups tomatoes, fresh or canned in the juice (15-oz. can)
- 3 cups of the beans’ soaking water (or, if you are using rinsed canned beans, just add 3 cups of water)
- Several sprigs of fresh herbs (I used thyme, but whatever you have will work. If you have no fresh herbs, use 2 teaspoons of dried herbs.)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Place all ingredients (except lemon) in soup pot, bring to a boil, and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 – 1 ½ hours.
- Alternatively, you can place in the crockpot on high early in the day and let it cook on high for 8-12 hours.
- Stir in lemon juice.
- Add salt and pepper as needed.