A TINth Anniversary Dinner

Chris and I have been married for 10 years! I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday we were saying "I do" in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains with our nearest and dearest looking on.

The traditional gift for 10 years is tin. (And/or diamonds, if you want to get technical, but since I got a trip to Paris and anniversary dinners at not one, but two, 3-Michelin-star-rated restaurants, I did not put a diamond on my list.) Tin is not the most interesting of materials to gift to someone. I guess you find a tin of caviar and call it a day, right?  Or some dangle earrings made out of tin?

Maybe if you live at Chez Boring, but here at Chez Gourmess, we do things a bit differently.

Chris and I ventured to our local grocery store, and for the next 90 minutes, perused the aisles for food items enclosed in tin. Our goal? Make a three-course anniversary dinner (appetizer, main, and dessert) using only food in cans or foil packaging. We allowed ourselves limited use of olive oil, butter, spices, herbs, etc., already in stock at home. We could have just picked up a can of olives and some Chef Boyardee and called it a day, but we wanted to see how unusual and well-rounded our meal could be. It was quite a challenge, but at the end of the day, we had three appetizer choices, a tasty main course with two sides, and a delicious dessert. Hooray for us!

Our TINth Anniversary Dinner:

Sardines in oil
Goose pate
Hummus (who knew it came in cans?)
Toasted brown bread (in a can!)
Poppa Dum (Indian crackers flavored with lentils and cumin)
On hand 
Hot sauce
Fresh parsley from the garden
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
  • We started with a toast -- Miller High Life ("The champagne of beers") stood in for bubbly, since we couldn't find cans of wine or sparkling wine at the wine shop. We drank it out of champagne glasses, too. Cheers!
  • The canned bread was very strange -- molasses is one of the ingredients and it was super sweet. It was also very moist and didn't toast easily -- the burned pieces were actually the most interesting, flavorwise. I bet it would make great PB & J sandwiches, though.
  • Onto the toasted bread went either the pate and mustard or the sardines in oil with parsley and a sprinkle of hot sauce. Tasty!
  • We were looking for crackers -- I was sure we'd find some Saltines in a tin, but the only crackers in tins we found were in the "International" food aisle -- some flavorful poppa dum.  They actually went very nicely with the hummus -- which I still can't believe we found in a can! I drizzled olive oil and a sprinkled few pinches of paprika over the hummus before serving.

Salmon cakes (made of canned salmon, canned potatoes, breadcrumbs from a can)
Yellow and green beans with sliced carrots
Matar Paneer (spicy peas and paneer cheese)
On hand
Garlic powder
Parsley from the garden
1 egg
  • We somehow came up with the idea to make fish cakes -- so into a bowl went the canned salmon (which took forever to de-bone), canned whole potatoes (smashed), parsley, salt, pepper and an egg. I formed into patties then dredged in a mixture of bread crumbs and garlic powder.  I browned a few minutes on each side until cooked through, while Chris heated up the paneer and added butter and herbs to the beans and carrots. The paneer was a fun canned side dish. It was pretty spicy, but a nice complement to the salmon cakes. Chris's mixed vegetables were well -seasoned and not overly mushy, probably because we drained them and didn't add any other liquids -- just butter. We drank Guinness with our main course and I felt like we were in a pub somewhere in the UK. Pretty fun!

Mini pie crusts (in foil cups)
Almond pastry filling
Blueberry filling
  • It was tricky to find something for dessert. We settled on little pies filled with almond filling and topped with blueberries.  If we had found canned cream cheese or vanilla pudding in cans, I would have mixed it with the almond filling to make more of a custard, but it was still tasty on its own.

I think our canned dinner was a success. Especially because we learned that we could survive a zombie apocalypse just fine -- as long as we have a can opener and a grocery store nearby. We also discovered that unless you're buying soup, canned food is not as cheap as you think (we spent more than $50 on our meal, not counting the beer). It's also very salty: I rinsed the potatoes, beans and carrots before using. And as for the mess, our recycling bin was overflowing, but clean-up was minimal overall.

It was so fun to put our tin meal together. However, I am so glad that we don't have to do it on a daily basis. I prefer cooking with fresh ingredients, for sure. But, if we had to only use canned food, team Gourmess would do A-OK!

After all, it's the love you put into your food that makes it terrific. Tin or no tin, it's probably the most important ingredient you can find -- and we have plenty of it here at Chez Gourmess.


Please note, any leftovers were wrapped in TIN foil, thanks to Chris's awesome parents who sent us some lovely tin/diamond-themed gifts.