Billy Doesn’t Like Cheese: Customized Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna with a ‘no-cheese’ zone

My friend, Billy, is, in his own words, ‘freaked out’ by cheese. He’s not allergic, it just ‘freaks’ him out. I find this particularly odd because of my intense love for cheese. All cheese. Even stinky cheese, soft cheese, hard cheese, moldy cheese. I love cheese. I even have a place in my heart for Kraft American Cheese Slices – that would be atop a greasy beach burger. You know, the ones made on the flat top griddle at the beachside or poolside snack stand by the guy you had a crush on in high school?

So, when this past weekend we decided to make Mexican Lasagna and Billy told me we could make the lasagna, but that he didn’t eat cheese, I was a bit taken aback. Uhm, first of all, he dissed my bff, cheese. Secondly, lasagna is like layers of meat and cheese.

And, what about the rest of us cheese-eating people who would be at the dinner? Why should we suffer and sacrifice just because one extremely fit, hot, gay guy says ‘no’ to cheese?

Luckily, I’ve come face to face with a picky eater or two in the past. One of my friends is an occasional vegetarian. Another eats no corn – you don’t want to know. My mother avoids all garlic. So, we formulated a plan that would satisfy everyone and made:

Customized Mexican Lasagna serves 6 (with a cheese-free Billy-Zone)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees

1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat 2 TBSP of Olive Oil and saute one whole yellow onion, diced.

2. Once the onion is fragrant and slightly translucent, add 1 – 1 1/2lbs each of Ground Dark Meat Turkey and Ground Breast Meat Turkey (Billy doesn’t eat red meat either) and brown the meat. Once browned add salt and pepper to taste and 2 TBSP of chopped, fresh parsley and stir in.

Turkey Browning with Onions – Onions should be more translucent

3. While the turkey is browning, heat 1 small can of Enchilada Sauce in a small skillet over medium heat. You can make your own, but the nice people at Old El Paso will do it for you:

Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce

Heating Enchilada Sauce for Mexican Lasagna

Enchilada Sauce heating

4. Once the enchilada sauce is gently simmering but not boiling, add a tortilla one at a time and let soak in the warm sauce for about 1 minute. (We used corn tortillas…Billy doesn’t eat flour)

Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce Softening and Flavoring the Tortillas

5. Layer the bottom of a lasagna pan with the soaked tortillas. You will need 6 per layer for a total of 18 needed. This will depend upon the size of the tortillas and the size of your lasagna pan.

Messy Base Layer of Soaked Tortillas

6. Add a layer of 1/2 of the cooked ground turkey, onion, parsley

The Ground Turkey Layer

7. On top of the turkey, add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of  a combo of shredded Cheddar and Jack Cheese. BUT, Keep an area free of cheese for Billy – see Cheese-Free Zone on the Left of the Pan.

Mexican Lasagna with Cheese-Free Billy-Zone

8. Repeat …On top of the second layer of turkey and cheese, add a final layer of Enchilada Sauce Soaked Tortillas and top with the remaining shredded cheese

9. Cover with tin foil and bake for :30 mins. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional :10 mins.

10. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for :10 mins before serving

Mexican Lasagna with Cheese-Free Billy-Zone. On the table.

We served the Mexican Lasagna with sides of homemade spicy queso and homemade guacamole. Everyone seemed happy – especially, Billy, who ate his entire cheese-free zone.

I don’t really understand how people can live without cheese, but I cherish the differences like these that make life, and cooking more interesting. No cheese? No meat? No garlic? No corn…No problem.

The Etiquette of Artichokes

Roasted Artichokes with Lemon Aioli

Unless you were raised by Emily Post, the rules of etiquette seem to have many different executions and applications. Sure, there are obvious things that are considered polite beyond just please and thank you. Like, we say ‘excuse me’ when we burp or sneeze, we hold the door open for the person behind us and when escorting a lady through the 1880s a gentleman walks closest to the street to shield her from the mud spewing off of the clopping hoofs of the horse drawn carriage going by. You know, stuff like that.

Some manners, though, are location specific. In cities like New York, for example, when getting into a taxi the man goes in first and slides over if his date is wearing a skirt. If she’s in pants, all bets are off and it’s a free for all. Revolving doors in New York regardless of size are one at a time. I used to work in Trump Tower which in addition to being a tourist destination has revolving doors. I’m sure there are revolving doors in other parts of the world – I’ve seen them. Still, for whatever reason, the revolving doors proved problematic for domestic and international travelers. So to make it clear for anyone confused by those pesky doors: Here’s the deal, in the US, the revolving doors go counter-clockwise. The gentleman enters the revolving doors first and then continues to push the doors around until his date is through so that she never has to place a hand on it. I wonder if in Australia the doors go the other way. Regardless, you’d be surprised at how many tourists get stuck in there…

So I got to thinking about the etiquette of vegetable consumption. And, this certainly varies by age and location. At our kitchen table growing up, for example, it was common practice for the kids to try to blow bubbles with our mashed potatoes. And, to make a competition out of it we blew those potato bubbles with a lot of ‘look at this!’ ‘mine is best!’ and so on being shout-muffled through the bubbled mash. At my mother’s table growing up, she and my uncle would fight about who had the prettiest parsley (yes, the ever-popular prettiest parsley competition) – holding a sprig up proudly and shouting ‘First Most Beautiful Tree in the World!’ We’ll cover why my brothers and I are so competitive at a later date.

Bubble blowing and leafy garnish competitions are obvious examples of what might not be considered particularly polite for adults. But, there are examples that are in more of a gray area. I remember reading somewhere that eating green beans with your hands at the table was OK. But are there rules that govern this practice? Like does it only apply to delicate french beans being consumed by French people? Would beans eaten by Americans wearing berets and speaking in French accents count? Or, did I mis-remember this exception to not eating with your hands all together?

Then, there’s asparagus. Again, if it’s OK to eat green beans by hand, does the same hold true for the similarly shaped asparagus. More importantly, if you’re not in the privacy of your own home and know that asparagus gives you stinky tinky, is it really OK to eat it? And if so, then if other bodily functions are followed by ‘excuse me’ should you excuse yourself after a bout of stinky tinky in someone’s guest restroom? I wonder a lot about this one.

But, one of the greatest etiquette conundrums is presented by the artichoke. When perfectly steamed the base of the leaves provide a sumptuous meat that can be dipped in butter or hollandaise and devoured. But getting to the meat is where I run into trouble. I mean you have to use your hands to pry each little leaf from the stem. But is it really OK to scrape the meat off of the leaves with your teeth while making a scraping, slurping sound? It’s really the only way to get to the deliciousness…but, I’m just not sure what Emily Post would have to say about it.

So, when I decided to make artichokes recently, I wanted to avoid this dilemma entirely.

Roasted Baby Artichokes with a Lemon Aioli (side dish or hors d’oeuvre)

NOTE: This takes a little time…Because it’s done in steps

1. Buy 12 Baby Artichokes! Baby artichokes are more delicate but have no hairy ickiness in the middle to remove. Plus unlike their larger siblings, you can eat the entire leaves of the inner part…

Beautiful Baby Artichoke

2. Prepare the Artichokes and bring a pot of water to a boil

  • Prepare a bowl of water with ice cubes and the juice of one entire lemon
  • One artichoke at a time cut the bottom stem entirely off
  • Remove all of the tough outer leaves and every layer of leaves afterwards that holds any purple color at all. Better to err on too many here than too few as the outer leaves have a somewhat inedible toughness.
  • Cut the artichoke heart in half lengthwise. If it’s still bigger than bite size, cut it in half lengthwise again
  • Immediately put the cut heart into the lemon ice water inside down – this will prevent them from browning
  • Repeat with remaining baby artichokes

Baby Artichokes chillin’ in ice water

3. Strain the artichokes from the ice bath and immediately and very gently place in the boiling water. Blanch for 3 minutes

4. Remove the blanched artichokes and put into a bowl. Cover and put into the refrigerator to cool…..If you don’t have a ton of time, you can also put them in the freezer for :15 mins but NO LONGER

5. When the babies are chilled: Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees

6. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place the artichokes on it. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to make sure each one is coated

7. Put into the oven for a total of 15 minutes. BUT at the halfway mark, flip the artichokes hearts over

Roasting baby artichokes

Roasting Baby Artichokes

8. Remove from the oven and place on a serving tray with toothpicks or small forks and the lemon aioli…

Beautifully Roasted Baby Artichokes

Lemon Aioli

Lemon Aioli mise en place

Simply whisk together

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste

You know, when it comes to etiquette the only universal directive might be: Have an awareness of others. If you think someone might have heard you burp, they probably did. And, really what’s the harm in saying ‘excuse me’?

When you’re really not sure, ask yourself if there’s another way or err on the side of etiquette. Don’t use the revolving door, just slide across the taxi seat, or, in this case, don’t boil your artichokes, roast them instead.

Consider What’s at Steak.

Anderson Live!

I have respect for all people and all peoples’ stories” – Anderson Cooper.

Today I joined the audience at Anderson Live. Because my (ahem) schedule is somewhat flexible and I’m on the Anderson Live email list, I was able to attend at the last minute when the show’s audience coordinator sent an email begging for seat fillers. I like Anderson. He seems like a good guy. I’ve been to his show before and he’s approachable, interested and interesting and holds true to his statement of respecting people and their stories…no matter how bizarre those stories may be.

Today’s show was no exception. And the bizarre started from the get go. Anderson’s co-host was Howie Mandel – very funny guy, right? Right, but widely known for his intense germaphobia. So intense that when the production team set the desk with notes and drinks for Anderson and Howie, Howie’s water was unassembled. An Anderson logo Tervis tumbler was shrouded in a sterile plastic bag and next to it sat an unopened bottle of water. The Tervis tumbler and bottled water stayed undisturbed until Anderson hazed Howie about the hermetically sealed bag. Howie did at that point remove the plastic bag  but never touched or opened the water. He even joked that he couldn’t be sure who had handled the sterile plastic bag…too risky. Too much at stake.

In addition to attending the show, filling a seat, I volunteered to sit in the ‘Tweet Seats’ and tweet about the show while it was happening. There were about 10 of us there – designated ‘TweetSeat Tweeters’ and our tweets were scrolled on a screen during the show. The question wasn’t: how many tweets would a seat tweeter tweet if a seat tweeter could tweet tweets – But more of how do you tweet respecting all people and their stories when the stories were what they were today???

I tweeted a lot. Probably too many tweets for my follower. Yes, that’s right, I have a follower not a following. I’m working on the latter.

Anyway, Anderson’s first guest was the ‘Worst Mom in America‘ – a New York City mom who believes in free-range parenting – the opposite of today’s helicopter parenting. If the helicopter moms in the audience had decided to leap up in outrage, there would have been a lot I could have said. I could have mentioned that I find this helicopter-momming a bit too much. I would have mentioned that from the time my siblings and I were very young (maybe 8 or 10) my mother opened the front door at 8 in the morning and said; ‘Don’t come home until dinner’. This was par for our neighborhood…it was also, in the wake of the Etan Patz disappearance.

But the moms in the audience were surprisingly open to a happy medium between the helicopter hover and completely free-range parenting.

Ultimately, the free-range mom wasn’t half as difficult to tweet about as the second guest: a man who believes that a hair loss prevention drug caused him to be transgender.

Uhmmmm, OK. A veritable conundrum for the generally opinionated food/story/blogger/tweeter who doesn’t want to alienate her follower or the lovely team at Anderson Live.

As the interview started, ‘Mandy’ as she is known now, explained that she had even developed transgender and ‘physical feminization’ from hair loss prevention drugs. She bought these drugs online…from India…on the Internet.

There were so many groups to offend and I didn’t want to offend anyone – not transgender people, balding people, people from India, pharmacists.

I took a page out of Anderson’s book and tried to respect all people and all peoples’ stories. I tried to consider what was at stake: losing my follower? Alienating friends? Letting the Anderson Live team down? Regardless, I think I went pretty safe and hope I did ok.

With any decision, there’s always something at stake…And, at the risk of offending vegetarians, vegans and raw food eaters alike, I made this good, quick, easy and affordable skirt steak the other night.

Marinated Skirt Steak (serves 4)

Mise En Place1. In a small bowl, mix together:

1. In a small bowl, mix together:

  • 1 TBSP of brown sugar
  • The leaves from 4 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 TSP Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt
  • 1/2 TSP of pepper
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

The mix should be a thick but not a totally pasty consistency.

2. Rub onto 1 1/2 – 2lbs of Skirt Steak. You can use flank steak, hanger steak or skirt steak.

3. Cover the meat and refrigerate any where from 2 hours to overnight

Skirt Steak post Rubbing

4. About :30 minutes before cooking, temporate the steak: to Temporate is to remove the steak from the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

5. Heat a non-stick grill pan on medium/high heat and spray lightly with Olive Oil spray.

6. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side. The meat will smoke up – so, apartment dwellers, open a window and door to keep your smoke alarms from going off!

Skirt Steak on the Grill Pan

Skirt Steak Grilled on one side

7. Remove from the grill pan, place on a cutting board and cover loosely with tin foil. Allow the meat to rest for :10minutes. This is a truly important step to ensure that the meat will be juicy. So plan for it.

8. Slice thinly against the grain and serve

I served this the other night with a side of Lemon Marscapone Gnocchi and Garlic Bread.

I enjoyed being one of the Tweeters in the Anderson Live Tweet Seats today – even when I had to hold my hands (that’s like biting your lip for a Tweeter/Blogger) a bit during hair loss transgender guest’s story.

Remembering what Anderson said about respecting all people and their stories helped me to select my words carefully and to consider what might truly be at stake.

I-Talian? I’ve had Gnocchi!

Lemon Mascarpone Gnocchi with Pesto – pic from La Scala in Boston. it was prettier than mine….

I have a long Italian last name. The kind that doesn’t always fit in the number of spaces provided. The kind that people constantly butcher when trying to pronounce. This means I have to spell it. A lot. Like all the time. I spell it in a sing-song manner with ‘as in’s for the tricky letters. (‘D’ as in ‘David’, ‘G’ as in ‘George’, ‘V’ like ‘Victor’ you get the point).

It also means everyone assumes I’m Italian. Right – not a big leap. And I am…But I’m also half Irish. Typical catholic combo.

Growing up I didn’t know that there were people who had never met Italians. I couldn’t fathom that since there were a lot of Italians in the town where I grew up.

In the 1990s I was dating someone from the South. This guy, let’s call him ‘Bill’ because that is his name, was well educated, read and traveled. He was from an academic family and, while he was raised in Baton Rouge and joined a southern fraternity in college, he had lived north of the Mason-Dixon for a long time.

That said, his mother’s family was from Kingstree, South Carolina – which when she was growing up was a “town of 6,500 people, 95% black” I was told.

Dr Moonlight Graham

Bill’s grandfather was the town ophthalmologist, and at the time we met, 83-years old. Wearing a black suit and somewhat wrinkled white shirt, Dr. Holmes stood about 5’4″ and spoke with a thick southern accent. He sort of looked like a miniature Burt Lancaster as Dr. Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams.

Very sweet man….but, didn’t know much about Italians.

So, when he looked up at me and with a quivering lip and a southern drawl stammered: ‘Now…Now…Now, Annie…Annie…Wh…Wh…What’s your l-ah-st name?’

Uh oh…I wanted to make a good impression. And I sensed that this might be tough once I revealed my half-Italian heritage. There aren’t a lot of us down south and even fewer I assumed in Kingstree.

‘It’s DiGiovanna’ I said apprehensively.

‘Hmm.’ He said…..and then…’Excuse me. Wh…Wh…What is it?’

‘DiGiovanna’ I repeated kindly and a little louder this time. Maybe he just hadn’t heard me.

‘Hmmm.’ He answered. And, we all went on with our meals.

Dr. Holmes looked up and around for a minute or so and then focused on his grandson and said: ‘William, Wh…What’s her l-ah-st name?’

The meal stopped and Bill looked at the Dr. and told him my name again.

At this point, I thought that we might be able to move on without further incident.

But, ah, no.

‘How do you spe-ell that?’ Dr.  Holmes drawled.

Poor thing. He was trying so hard to figure out what was going on – the southern way…He just needed to know where I was from and who my people were.

Bill spelled it for him – annunciated every letter and used my ‘as ins’ brilliantly. Dr. Holmes soaked in every letter. And I thought it might be over…

And then, the clincher. My never-to-be Grandfather-in-law quivered….’Now Now Now…Wh..Wh…What kind of name IS that?’.

He was trying so hard. And was really sweet. But I knew this was all throwing him a bit. I looked around for help, but then just proudly answered: ‘It’s Italian’.

Silence as Dr. Holmes thought about that for a few minutes. I could see the mental filofax in his head searching his 83 years for a point of reference.

Finally, a deep sigh. Relief appeared on his face as he exclaimed:

‘I-Talian!…. I’ve had pizza!’

And that was it.

So, in honor of my I-Talian heritage, for the first time I made Giada De Laurentis’ Marscapone and Lemon Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce.

Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi (Serves 4)

1. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine:

Mise en Place for the Gnocchi

Mise en Place for the Gnocchi

  • 1 Cup of Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • the zest of 2 large lemons
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt

2. Once combined and creamy, Slowly mix in 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour until it forms a dough.

Gnocchi Dough

3. Form small gnocchis and put them on a floured rimmed baking sheet. I used two spoons and traded bits of the dough between them until they were sort of quenelle shaped. Next time, I’d make them smaller…

Formed Lemon Mascarpone Gnocchi

4. Shake the pan gently to cover the Gnocchis-to-be with flour.

5. Transfer to a floured plate, cover with plastic and put in the fridge for up to 2-3 hours. They can be frozen at this point as well and boiled off at a later date.

Floured Gnocchi going to rest in the fridge

6. Remove from the fridge and gently place into simmering water. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom and then float to the top. Once they are floating, continue to cook for 5-6 minutes then remove and place in a serving bowl.

Gnocchi Risen to the Top of Simmering Water

Pesto Sauce

1. In the bowl of a Cuisinart or blender, combine:

  • 2 Cups of Fresh Basil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup of Pine Nuts
  • The zest of 1/2 lemon – most recipes don’t add the zest, but I wanted to layer in a little lemon to pair well with the lemon marscapone gnocchi.
Pesto Sauce

Pesto Ingredients in the Cuisinart

2. Once combined, slowly drizzle in 2/3 cup of Olive Oil, salt, pepper to taste. We’re adding a salty cheese next, so be careful not to over salt.

Pesto in Cuisinart

Pesto Sauce Blended in Cuisinart

3. Remove from the blender/food processor and stir in 1/2 cup of peccorino cheese

Stir in the Pecorino Cheese

Stirring in the Cheese

4. Gently fold about 1/2 of the pesto into the gnocchi and serve immediately.

I lost track of 1990s Bill and his sweet grandfather, Dr. Holmes. I doubt the good doctor came into contact with many more I-Talians after that night. But he reminded me of the values of a long Italian last name: Even though it often exceeds the spaces provided and in spite of the constant spelling and mispronunciation, it’s my name. It’s I-Talian and I made Gnocchi.

Pantry Raid: Baked Fried Fish

Fish Breading Prep

Fish Breading Prep

One of the greatest benefits to living in my apartment is the trash process. When the garbage is full, I take the bag to the tiny room down the hall, open the hatch and throw the bag down the chute. And it’s gone. Just like that. I can do this any day of the week, any time of the day. Sometimes, I do it in my pajamas – that’s right. In my pajamas.

Recently I was upstate at a friend’s country home. It’s an amazing 1830’s Federal Style home on a big piece of property with nature all around – it’s for sale, I can send you the details. The home is so inviting, in fact, that a giant skunk found its way into one of the window wells and decided to take a nap there…Once we discovered the snoozing skunk, we did what any good Manhattanites would do…we called the police. The officer who arrived kindly confirmed that it was, indeed, a skunk. And that there was nothing he could do to move it. Fortunately for us, country skunk made its own way out of the window well without spraying and well before morning.

Since my friend’s home is for sale, I thought we might want to do an emergency Pantry Raid: go through the kitchen and toss any food items that were expired.

Large Kitchen = Many Cabinets = A Lot of Foodstuff…

The moment I got started, I knew this would be no easy task. There were no fewer than 6 boxes of Chicken Stock (exp 11/11/2010), 2 boxes of Tomato Soup (exp 09/11/2011), 1 box Bisquick (exp 10/15/2010), Nuts, Chocolate, Expensive Cake and Cookie Mixes, crackers, breakfast bars, cereal, grated parmesan cheese from the last decade etc…All well past the expiration dates…

Then, we had to strategerize how to throw all the expired food away. See, trash pick up is once a week up there…and, on Thursdays. We were leaving on Sunday. It’s still pretty hot right now..even upstate. I think you understand the challenge. We couldn’t leave two large garbage bags of post-expiry perishables in a hot bag, in a hot trash bin, in a skunk infested land for a week…uhm gross. Much brainstorming and 3 phone calls later, we found a neighbor willing to come by and take everything out Wednesday night.

Another reminder that living in tiny spaces in NYC, has its benefits.

Regardless of how it happens, I hate throwing away food. As Melissa D’Arabian constantly reminds us: the most expensive ingredients are the ones you throw away.

In my house growing up, expiration dates were just directional information. If cheese or bread had mold, we cut the mold off – ‘It’s penicillin’ my mother would say. Or, ‘stale bread is halfway to toast’. And I turned out OK. I mean, right?

But, I’m not partial to eating penicillin and I’m a little nuts about going through my ‘pantry’.  And determining what is in danger of expiring and creating from there.

Kitchen Pantry

More of a pity than a pantry…but it’s NYC.

This past weekend, when doing my pantry raid I found some well-aged but not yet expired Panko Bread Crumbs and during the freezer-evaluation, some vacu-sealed frozen tilapia…Since there was like totally no mold on either I decided to make…

Baked Fried Fish (serves 2)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a rimmed baking tray with rack insert lightly sprayed with nonstick spray

1. In a bowl combine 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, 1 tbsp Lemon Zest, 1 tsp Lemon Thyme, 1tsp Krazy Mixed Up Salt and 2 tbsp of melted butter.

Panko Lemon Thyme Breading Mix

Panko, Lovely Lemon Thyme, Butter KMUS Breading

2. In a second bowl, whisk one egg white until well frothed – do this by hand to build your arm strength.

NOTE: You can, apparently, freeze the unused yolk.., but I think that’s sort of gross and would opt to keep the yolk in the fridge overnight and jack up an omelet with an extra yolk in the morning.

3. One at a time – Coat 2 medium sized fish filets in the egg white froth (I used tilapia, but you can use any white, flaky fish…cod would work or haddock. Don’t spend a ton of money here.)

4. Put the egg white-d filet into the Panko mix and coat well. If the panko isn’t adhering well, there’s no shame in gently pressing more of the breading onto the top of the fish.

5. Transfer the breaded fish to the prepared rimmed baking tray. Using the rack helps the fish to cook evenly…or so it’s said. I lined the baking dish with aluminum foil for easier clean up.

Breaded fish pre oven

Lovely Tilapia Breaded and Ready for the Oven

6. Bake 15-20 minutes until the breading is golden brown and the fish is flaky and delicious

Baked Fried Fish

Baked Fried Fish post Oven


That’s it. I served it with roasted asparagus and parmesan cous-cous.

While penicillin is derived from mold that develops on grains – I’m not really sure if the particular mold that developed on our bread or cheese from childhood really had penicillin benefits of any kind. And, I’m not sure eating just the ‘good parts’ is really a good idea.

And…even though trash disposal from my apartment is simple…throwing out unused, past expiration date food is expensive.

Best to avoid the penicillin predicament and do frequent Pantry Raids: check expiration dates on your food stock and cook from there.