We get it-sometimes you don’t have the time/energy/will to do a full grocery store shopping trip. But before you order takeout or microwave something suspicious, STOP. There’s hope. If you live in a city, you probably have a 24-hour corner store nearby. Yes, these stores are stocked with chips and beef jerky, but if you look carefully, there are ways to make a meal from what you can find here. Yes, it will feel a bit like an episode of Iron Chef trying to make ingredients work, but we promise you’ll come out a champion.
A few years ago our founder Sally Sampson asked: Is it possible to do more than just feed your dog, your hangover, or your sweet tooth at our very own Store 24? She asked chefs with an imagination and a sense of humor to go in and create something out of nothing.
Here’s what they came up with and some inspiration for you, so you too can create a meal from the sundry ingredients at your corner store.
Who: The first guinea pig was Chris Schlesinger, co-owner of The East Coast Grill, Jake and Earl's Barbecue and The Blue Room
What he bought: Chris purchased Oscar Meyer bacon, cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce ("nice lettuce, wow"), an apple, a nectarine, a plum, a green pepper, a cucumber, a Spanish onion, a can of corn, a bag of carrots, a bunch of bananas, Enrico's salsa, a can of pigeon peas, chili powder, adobo seasoning, beef jerky, peach nectar, a lime, a bag of frozen tortillas, Uncle Ben's whole grain rice and Oreo cookies (total bill $28.19).
What he cooked: Cheese and fruit quesadillas: tortillas topped with bacon, melted cheese and mixed fruit chili relish (made with sauteed onion, granny smith apples, a plum, and a nectarine) and then topped with another tortilla. Sauteed lettuce, carrots and cucumbers, pigeon peas, corn and rice. And fried bananas on the side.
Who: Susan Chused- Still and Maggie McNally, co- owners of Venus, Seafood on the Rough.
What they bought: Abox of frozen fried chicken pieces, thousand island dressing, Lipton onion soup mix, marmalade, onions, mushrooms, carrots, frozen broccoli, Crisco oil and Bisquik. (Total $19.20)
What they cooked: Fried chicken with a mixture of onion soup mix, orange marmalade and thousand island dressing. A side of broccoli with freshly squeezed lemon. Banana fritters battered in bisquick. (The idea for the dressed up fried chicken was Susan's who revealed that it was something she'd been served by her mother in law on more than one occasion.)
Who: John Levins, co- owner and chef of Green Street Grill
What he bought: A head of iceberg lettuce, a pear, a lemon, a lime, an apple, a banana (so far, everyone picked bananas), a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a can of Campbell's Pork and Beans ("One of my favorite things in a can"), ham, sardines and mushrooms. (Total $16.19)
What he cooked: Appetizer: Chopped sardines on iceberg lettuce with chopped onion and a little squeeze of lemon. Entree: Doctored up Kraft Mac and Cheese mix with sauteed onions, mushrooms, adobo seasoning, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Entree: Doctored up Pork and Beans with sauteed onions, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, and ham. Dessert: Sauteed apples, pear and banana with a squeeze of lemon juice with iceberg lettuce, a little rum and a touch of maple syrup.
Who: Jimmy Burke, owner of The Tuscan Grill
What he bought: Ronzoni Shells, Whole peeled tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive oil, spinach, sardines, vanilla ice cream, coffee beans and eggs. (Total $20.17)
What he cooked: Salad: Spinach with crumbled bacon, balsamic vinegar, bacon fat, and a soft boiled egg. Pasta con Sardines: Pasta with sauteed onion, garlic, cooked, whole tomatoes, sardines "bones and all" and black pepper Dessert: Vanilla Ice Cream with Freshly ground Coffee and Scotch.