Monday, January 9, 2012

Reality Check

I remember when this intended artisan blog turned into a food-and-social-commentary blog.  It began just over a month ago with a whim to clean out my refrigerator and freezer.  To reduce the store of perishable goods which crammed our life full.  To focus more on what we have than what we want or what's easy or what's convenient.  To use what we already have and give the rest to those who need it more.

My friend FJ put much more eloquent words to this notion here (despite or in spite of her description of a questionable taco meal):

It's amazing how an inanimate 26-cubic-foot appliance rules our life.  Don't think so?  Recall how stressed the family got last time the power went out for a few hours.  This appliance speaks to us.  It saves the day.  It's definitely an elephant in our kitchen.  Maybe those science experiments growing in its recesses are what's speaking.
ANYWAY, here's the check-up.  Six weeks into my pledge to clear out the refrigerator and freezer: we're still a long way from clear.  I cheated.  I AM using up food in creative and nutritious and wonderful ways, but I'm also buying groceries.  Maybe not at the original pace, but I'm still procuring ingredients to suit our palettes, fill our bellies, and satiate our minds.  We're so fortunate to be able to do so.  At least I recognize and appreciate this.  Maybe one day those "starving" teens of mine will get it.  In the meantime...

A sneaky leaky pan of lasagna caused me to inventory what's left today.  Inventory - as in, wash every single item in the fridge because it has tomato sauce all over it.  We have 1/2 gallon containers of milk (that'll be gone after breakfast tomorrow) and maple syrup (thank you MOM!!).  We have 10 carrots, 9 tangelos, 8 stalks of celery, 3 crowns of broccoli, a discolored lime and a partially-shaved lemon.  One beautiful Harry and David pear (no partridge): the last of TWO boxes sent by Mom.  Thanks MOM!!  A bunch of slimy parsley which moved directly to the compost bin.  Several cheeses (thanks, Sis).  Dairy products I picked up yesterday in my quest to healthify some baked goods recipes.  A package of chicken for Thurday supper.  Leftovers packed for lunches and dinners between now and Thursday.  A door full of condiments - although a mere half of what was there a month ago.

What we are out of: meat.

What we have LOTS of:  frozen veggies and refrigerated condiments. 

That bottle of pickled ginger and DH's garden experiments are still with us.  Well, some of the pickles made it onto my plate last night.  Not too bad.  With us as well is the cheese-making kit and a package of egg roll wrappers.

Oh, this is going to be a fun month of menus.  Everything Must Go.  What began as a social justice effort has become a creative game.  I never said it would be dull.

Today I "unloaded" a couple of fun freezer items.  The frozen peaches, brown-ish apple slices from the fridge, and some of the bottled ginger were cooked down, pureed, and baked into bread.  The loaf with pecans was devoured by the largest Sunday School class I've ever seen.  The nut-free loaf became my first pay-it-forward homemade gift of 2012.  The rest went into muffins, an attempt to make over the original recipe.  Most of the fat was eliminated and additional grains introduced.  The muffins went back into the freezer for breakfasts later in the week.

I also used up the last pie crust.  I found a nice, heart-healthy recipe for frittata on the WWW and adapted it into a pseudo-quiche.  Sunday brunch and breakfast this week.

Tonight's no-boil lasagna used up the rest of the tomato sauce (what didn't leak all over the refrigerator), meatballs, and mozzarella cheese.  We also had salad (diet salad); I think ONE of the two blue cheese dressing containers is finally empty.  We're getting there, even if the original point has been mislaid somewhere along the way.

Here's where we're going:  a much, much more intentional eating plan.  I love that word, "intentional."  I really mean it.  Not a diet in the deny-yourself-of-the-things-you-love diet, but an eating plan to adapt to our physical challenges (which includes active teenagers and the death of the family mealtime) and our nutritional needs.  That, and a clean fridge.  Shine on!

Canadian Bacon and Potato Quiche
adapted from
Serves 4 to 6, depending on what else is served with it.

1 prepared pie crust, baked until golden (about 8 minutes in a 375degF oven)

6 eggs

2 T. fresh chives or 1 T. freeze-dried chopped chives
2 milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 c. refrigerated southern-style hash-brown potatoes (or one fist-sized potato, shredded)
1/2 c. Canadian bacon or cooked ham, coarsely chopped
2 T. Cheddar cheese, shredded
Paprika (for dusting)

Beat eggs, chives, milk, salt, thyme and pepper in medium bowl; set aside.

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add bell pepper; cook and stir over medium heat 1 minute. Add potatoes; cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently until potatoes begin to brown. Stir in Canadian bacon; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Spread mixture into pie crust.  Pour egg mixture over pie crust.  Sprinkle with cheese and paprika.

Bake at 375degF for 45-50 minutes, until quiche is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cut into wedges and serve.

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