Confused In The Kitchen? Share A Photo, Get Some Help

Apr 4, 2013
Originally published on April 4, 2013 11:02 am

We've all got those strange food items in the kitchen that either bewilder or bore us: A strange can of beans bought in a pre-storm panic. Something in another language, gifted as a souvenir. Bulk items purchased for an ambitious recipe, used exactly once.

And usually, those things just sit there ... forever. But what if you could ask a bunch of people, "Hey, what do I do with this?"

NPR's Morning Edition just launched a project called Cook Your Cupboard to help with that. It's simple: Post a photo of what has you stumped. Then get (and give!) advice in the comments.

Every few weeks we'll ask for something different (like freezer items, spices, surplus produce). But the first round is general: Just pick any three questionable things in your kitchen.

Need inspiration? Morning Edition's David Greene found these weird things: Red and white popcorn kernels, apricot oil from Vienna and never-opened blackberry jam. And the suggestions are already rolling in.

We hope you can help each other out of your kitchen conundrums. And as a bonus, every few weeks we'll also bring one participant on-air — to get expert advice from a chef. First up is Nigella Lawson. We think she can make anything (even watermelon preserves) sound delicious.

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It is spring cleaning season, and if you're like me you probably have a few strange food items hanging around in your kitchen. Well, our producer, Selena Simmons-Duffin, is here to explain a new project NPR is doing about these mysterious items that we all have hanging around. Hey, Selena.


GREENE: So what is this project? Tell me about it.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: OK. It's called Cook Your Cupboard, and it's an online tool that you can use to get advice on how to make your mysterious pantry puzzlers into things that you can use for a meal.

GREENE: Actually eat.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Exactly. Something that you can take from your pantry to the table. So what we're asking is that people find no more than three things that they have around, take a photo, submit it at, or if you're on Tumblr, it's Cook Your Cupboard is the name of the Tumblr. And you can tell the story behind it and then other people, other viewers, listeners will be able to comment with ideas and recipes and advice.

GREENE: They could give you some sort of recipe or they could just say this stuff is way too weird. There's nothing you can...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Yeah, throw it out. That's possible too.

GREENE: OK. Well, all this explains why you had me bring in a photo from my cupboard of some weird items.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: So, tell me what you found.

GREENE: OK. Well, what we're looking at here, this is the photo - it's red and white premium popcorn, a strange jar of something which my wife tells me is actually apricot oil, and Lydia's blackberry jam - was a gift from my friend Lydia, and she saw it in a store in Amish country, Pennsylvania, where Lydia and I are both from. And we haven't used these things. So...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Oh, well, that seems like a shame, especially the jam.

GREENE: So I could put this photo on this website and explain what I just explained to you and people will say, hey, I got an idea for popcorn, apricot oil and jam.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Totally, totally. And already we've just launched and we've gotten watermelon preserves and tamarind paste and pigeon peas and all sorts of things that people have hanging out in their kitchen already that they need advice for what to do with it.

GREENE: Pigeon peas?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Yeah, pigeon peas. Now, I have to say that I am not a chef. We need other people to go and offer their guidance.

GREENE: OK. So a lot of online elements to this. Are we going to be hearing some stuff on the radio, on MORNING EDITION also?

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Yeah. There will be a home for Cook Your Cupboard on air. You'll hear segments with chefs who are talking to submitters about their - things in their cupboard and the excellent, delicious things that they can make out of them. And the first chef who's going to be on is Nigella Lawson, who is one of MORNING EDITION's favorite and a very famous cookbook author and TV personality. So you'll have to stay tuned for Nigella's advice about your pantry.

GREENE: Excellent. This sounds fun. MORNING EDITION producer Selena Simmons-Duffin. Thanks, Selena.



GREENE: Once more, that website is Send us photos of what's in your pantry.


GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.