Food can be a conundrum for the average person in any given day or week. The challenge of meal planning can be exasperating – if you let it. This column will be about one particular meal – how one adapts and relies less on a scripted recipe. After all a recipe is only a guide.
I could write a book on what it was like growing up in the 60′s and 70′s – and maybe I will. Everyone had a vegetable garden. There was not the overabundance of convenience or frozen foods like today. But for now I want to focus on one aspect of food preparation. Even to this day I am thrifty when it comes to using leftovers and making do with whatever is on hand to put a meal together. I am my mother’s daughter. If I don’t have what the recipe calls for I am able to substitute something else. And there comes the challenge. For me though I just roll with it. I am hoping to impart to you some of the ways I use and reuse food.
I admit I throw away all the flyers that come in the newspaper especially for the latest convenience foods. Where are the coupons and savings for the food staples that we really need such as milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables? I am cautious even when it comes to boxed and canned items I must buy. I’ll tell you about one key item as the cooking demo progresses.*
I am no expert but I could present a good front on one of those food cook-offs on TV. I trained as a personal chef under the guidance of the United States Personal Chef Association for a short time. But it was not the right decision then with small children to look after. So when my state license came up for renewal (Dinner by Design) I thought long and hard before giving it up. Nothing attempted and pursued is ever a failure. This was a trial I set myself up for and it did end but not before reaching into some amazing places with people and creative projects.
And now back to the meal plan.
The following slide presentation shows how to take another look at vegetable items not quite ready for the compost heap and worthy of redemption.
The soup needed only a pinch of salt and pepper. The flavor was fabulous!
Add whatever toppings (or none at all) to give it another flavor such as a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, croutons or a crumble of crackers.
* The chicken stock is something I never buy. When making any chicken dish I save the leftover layer in the baking dish. Place in a dish and refrigerate. When solidified scoop off the fat layer and you have yummy goodness for any recipe. After using up a whole chicken I either save the carcass and put in the freezer when I have time or right then and there I may heat a pot of water to 3/4 covering the chicken. Add a cut up onion and celery, boil it all for awhile until it reduces somewhat. Strain into a bowl. Ladle set amounts such as 1/2 cup and 1 cup. Put this into coffee mugs and put in the freezer. When solid take out and put into individual baggies. All set and ready to go for your next meal. No cost and the best chicken stock around.
Other suggestions: Add milk or cream for another boost of flavor. If your needs are dairy and/or vegan friendly omit the chicken stock and use water or vegetable stock (homemade the same way as the chicken stock). Just use vegetables you may otherwise discard along with the tops of a celery bunch, carrot peels, etc.
Debbie Curtin writes stories about people, places, events and other topics of interest that engage the reader. As a member of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Debbie keeps ‘in the game’ with other like minded people. She has been an artist and creative person all her life and uses the unlimited sources of inspiration that abound everywhere in her writing as another art form.