Saturday, August 02, 2008

Messing with the flavor

We've had quite a few church events this last little while and for me that usually means I've been making and taking some sort of food item. Generally speaking, I like to make something with what I've got on hand to avoid another trip to the grocery store and because it's sort of a challenge for me to see what I can come up with based on the randomness of my kitchen.

On Tuesday, I made "Berry Heavenly Trifle," or that's what it would have been called if I were the kind of person to put these things on recipe cards and give them cutesy names. However, I'm not, largely because I'm pretty sure I'll never have these particular ingredients on hand ever again, so a recipe is really moot. Indeed, that's part of the fun of this kind of cooking (though it aggravates the husband at times): the product is ineffable, never to be repeated, so enjoy it now. Anywho, this "trifle" involved layers of angel food cake (I had a random mix on hand), vanilla pudding (one box of instant plus three leftover little pudding cups the husband bought as snacks some time in the distant past), blueberries (remember when I picked them myself? Still have some), strawberries (remember when I picked those, too?), and whipped cream. I did fold the strawberries into the box of pudding because they became a bit soupy when they were defrosted and I did bake the cake, but that's about as much prep as it took. Results were yummy and plentiful.

Today, I have made pasta salad using the following leftovers: part of one bag of frozen mixed vegetables, 4 really ripe roma tomatoes, one yellow pepper, one small head of broccoli, part of a bag of shredded carrots, some frozen peas and corn, and one can of kidney beans. I also used the cannery macaroni, so I felt even more industrious than usual, given that I was using up my food storage as advised. I have to say, I don't ever use macaroni, preferring other shapes of pasta, but it works quite well in pasta salad because it's about the same size as everything else. And, of course, I used my super secret pasta salad sauce that always gets rave reviews. Oh, you want to know the secret so you can get some accolades of your own? Really? Okay, here goes: one bottle of dollar store fat-free Italian salad dressing and a couple of shakes of Mrs. Dash (table blend if you have it but regular will do). Yep, the cheaper the dressing, the better. I always have some on hand because I pick some up every time I'm in or near a dollar store. Trust me: it's the best, quickest, tastiest marinade for the money out there. Besides pasta salad, you can use it to marinate chicken or fish, as a stir fry sauce, in casseroles, as a dip alone or with sour cream, you name it. Oh, and it works pretty well on a green salad in a pinch! Use most of one bottle on a pound of pasta and lots of veggies and then bring the rest of the bottle with you to pour over everything right before you serve it at a potluck, since the pasta will absorb a lot of dressing.

I learned to make do and make up from my mother, who just this week was telling me how she rescued and turned into something edible a freezer burned bag of chicken breasts and was wondering what to do with several bags of frozen apricots she needs to use up before the next crop comes in. I remember countless times watching her create something from a random assortment of ingredients, most of which were leftovers, and then watching and laughing along with her as people sought her out for the "recipe." Some would say this ability is a skill or a talent, and I guess technically it is, but I've always felt like it was a game because I've had so much fun coming up with all these dishes alone and with my mother.

Can't wait to see what comes out of the kitchen next week!

1 comment:

Scott said...

i am so envious of this attutude toward cooking. if i dont' ahve a recipe i don't even try. what a great example from your mom! i need to learn to relax from this!