Well, it’s related to many of my old things. It’s food waste. Did you know that Americans on average throw out 40% of their food? Easy way to save $ eh? Just throw out less.
To that end, and because I believe that public libraries should be both paid for and used, I found a listing for a book which looked interesting:
The Kitchen Ecosystem – by Eugenia Bone.
I got a copy via inter-library loan to look at, so I wouldn’t just buy another book. (Also different than years past. I would have bought it with the least amount of provocation!)
And, because I am who I am, I was pleased to see on the title page two stamps: the top one reads: “Library of Congress, surplus duplicate” and the 2nd is the ownership stamp of the library where my library got it. Made me smile. I guess the publisher donated an extra copy to the LoC and it wound up in a small town’s library in rural New England. Must be the used bookseller in me, but I love books where you can trace their history!
Anyway, the book is sorted by ingredients, from Apples to Zucchini and each ingredient has a sort of flow chart.
- Top level is the ingredient used fresh, and recipes listed which do that.
- Preserve some: take whatever excess and put it aside in something.
- Use the preserves.
- Use the scraps.
- Sometimes, there is a 5th level: Make more. Which I guess is what you do if the preserves and scraps still don’t use it all up!
Over the years, I have collected all sorts of left over cookbooks. Also have a small batch preserving book. And of course other cook books.
That said? This is the only time I’ve ever seen anyone who, like me, talks about flowing ingredients from one dish to the next. It isn’t left overs or planned overs. It’s splitting the original ingredient into pieces which can be used in completely different recipes. Sometimes, I use all of something (especially with meat) in which case I will cook the bulk of it as plainly as possible so that it can be used for something entirely different down the road.
To that end? This week we had a potato “one pot” for dinner. I used a HM package of chopped onion, part of a HM package of chopped bell pepper, ditto celery leaves, 1/2 of an individual HM meat loaf, and about 2/3 of a commercial bag of thick cut hash browns. Also used the end of a bar of cheddar.
I sauted the vegetables, crumbled the meat and added it. When that was hot, I turned off the heat, added the hash browns and some chunks of cheese. This mixture went into a Pyrex rectanglular pan and into a hot oven. I kept stirring it to brown the potatoes on all sides. When it was good and hot, I sprinkled some more cheese on top, grated this time, and broiled it until the cheese was light gold.
It was yummy, A one-pot meal, used what we had and essentially was free, or nearly so. The meatloaf, celery leaves, and bits and pieces of pepper would probably have been pitched. The cheese was an end I used up. The chopped onion was a whole onion, chopped because either I simply had too many for the pantry or it looked like it might go bad soon. The only “new” thing in the dish was the partial bag of potatoes. Everything else was the end of something bigger.
No recipe. No meal plan. I looked in the pantry, fridge and freezer and figured out what I needed to use up, and did. I do this or some variation of it almost every night. I use recipes for baked goods and preserving foods. I use other recipes usually as a guide, not instructions, if I use them at all.
There’s a quote in the book I might cross-stitch for my kitchen, I like it that much! Certainly it reflects my experience: “… while gizmos of cooking are very useful, I can tell you from experience that good cooking is not the result of stuff. It’s the result of practice.” (page 5)
No surprise — I ordered the book! (And that’s a story, for another day.)