Eating well without breaking the bank or cooking every minute of the day requires strategies to economize on time and money. One way I like to do that is to start with one dish and transform it into another (and another and another). With a turkey or ham, that’s not too hard because there is usually lots of leftover meat. But even a simple roasted chicken can be given new life several times over. My most ambitious feat yet has been to cook one chicken, four ways. Check it out: slow-cooker roasted chicken becomes chicken pot pie, fried rice and chicken broth. Three out of these four recipes I have shared already on the blog, but now I’m putting it altogether for you to show you how to save time, and throwing in a simple description of how I make fried rice.
I had in my mind that I didn’t like minestrone. I probably got that idea from the numerous cans of it I’ve eaten over the years, with their suspicious cubed carrots and potatoes. All the chunks have the same texture, except the beans, which are mealy. And the taste of tin pervades each bite. Restaurant soup, with few exceptions, isn’t much better. It tastes like nothing more than tomato, holds no surprises, and is still a bit tinny. So I was convinced minestrone itself was deeply flawed.
This weekend a cold took me down like a lion fells a gazelle. It snuck up from behind, bit me in the ass and laid me flat. Like that poor wounded animal I kept trying to get up and escape my fate. In my case it was to attend to my family and home, trying to carry on as usual, but I ended up splayed out and whimpering shortly after each attempt.
Before I succumbed completely, I did manage to whip up a quick broth-based soup with noodles and veggies. The broth I made last week never made it into the freezer, so it was easy to just dump in some chopped carrots, celery and kale and a handful of tiny pasta. Man, did that taste good. And it made me feel better, too.
Recently I inherited a package of pre-cooked lentils when my sister left for a business trip. I’m not sure if she thought they’d expire while she was away (they wouldn’t have) or was just taking pity on my family while we conducted a $200/month grocery experiment (read all about it next week!). Either way, I gratefully accepted them, and then privately scoffed the frivolity of her purchase. Lentils are so easy and inexpensive to prepare. Plus, our mom’s lentil salad is one of my sister’s favorites, and I promise you that recipe does not start with pre-cooked lentils. What could she have been thinking?
I couldn’t imagine buying those little vacuum-sealed packs. However, they were delicious. They had been simmered with a variety of herbs that gave them a lovely flavor. But most importantly they were a wonderful variety (French, I think). Small, firm, black. Like vegan caviar. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But still, they were great. A little balsamic vinegar and olive oil really made them sing. The only sour note (aside from my ugly moment of judginess) Continue reading Lentil soup→
Ripping out four of our beloved tomato plants this weekend left us with about 5 pounds of green tomatoes. Having already made Piccalilli and Green Tomato Chutney, I wanted to try something a bit less New England-y. After browsing numerous options (e.g., Fried Green Tomatoes, green tomato gratin, green tomato jam) I read several Indian-inspired recipes. Bingo! Just the alternative I was looking for. Continue reading Green tomato curry→
We are deep into zucchini season now, and my monster is still pumping out 3-5 lbs of fruit a week. At last count we had 24 pounds stashed in the freezer. As nice as it is to have an enormous supply of garden fresh vegetables ready to cook into something delicious, I find it even more helpful to have my freezer stocked with meals I have already prepared. Continue reading Zucchini soup two ways. And a confessional→