Something happened yesterday evening around dinnertime that hardly ever happens for this disdainful kitchen-phobe.
I used bits of food I already had to make a new meal. Pause for effect.
When I was at the grocery store last, it was the usual listless, distracted experience for me. I pondered the mushroom section. I love mushrooms, but when I buy them, most--if not all-- wind up rotten in the trash a week later, either due to discouragement or forgetfulness.
I reasoned that trip that I would ONLY buy the mushrooms. No other produce. I would try to use a whole box of mushrooms before they went bad. My version of 'Julie and Julia.' I made a few omelets and forgot about my promise.
Then tonight, I was thinking how much I'd love pasta and zucchini and whether it'd be worth a drive to the market, and I remembered: The Mushrooms!
Serendipitously, I also happened to have the following leftovers in the fridge--all on death-watch: one pre-cooked chicken patty, half a jar of marinara sauce (it's probably 3 weeks old now or more--but I didn't care! I was using The Mushrooms!), parmesan and fresh basil. I dumped them all into a damn frying pan and let time and chance take care of the rest.
It wasn’t until several minutes into this food nirvana that I realized I could also boil some noodles.
I also happened to have a leftover takeout salad in the fridge that I ate as a first course--presto! It was a great meal, and exactly what I was in the mood for!
It almost never works out this perfectly. Part of my problem in synchronization: Having just the right amount of the exact ingredients that I’m craving. What’s tricky is, even if I buy all the things on the same day, different foods spoil earlier than others, so sometimes, if I don’t get right on it I lose some ingredients in the wait.
Another thing I struggle with is leftovers. Last night, everything fit perfectly, but usually, I’ll wind up with a decent cooked meal PLUS an unused half of a zucchini, most of a head of garlic (are they called heads?), half a jar of sauce, etc. I don’t always have clever ways to use these leftovers.
I can see that one of my jobs for becoming kitchen-competent will be to figure out my staple foods and develop a lot of flexibility with those foods.
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