So making a new recipe is good ‘n all, but what’s really the best is The Improvisation.
My favorite dishes are the improvised ones made up out of my head that clean up all the unused extra food around the house. You know, the half cabbage down there in the bin, the carrots that need to have the nasty parts cut off, the carefully pruned green onions that are trying to go bad, the pared down green pepper. I hate food going to waste, so if I can create a delicious meal out of this stuff, it’s as good as finding a bargain on a fine piece of clothing.
So my latest, and it’s been awhile, were these Fantasy Enchiladas. Used up the red potatoes, the red and green pep, the red onion, the white sweet corn, green onions, leftover salsa and the tortillas that had seen better days. Tossed all but tortillas together with some chicken that had been cooked, some sour cream a little chile powder and Adobo, don’t forget the green chilis… wrapped up and threw some sauce, sour cream and cheese? Heaven. I mean for a fridge cleaning meal? Plus I had never ventured out with enchilada, never gotten funky with ’em. Potatoes worked smashingly. Next I am gonna do like crazy things like broccoli and spinach and yogurt instead of sour cream, see what that does…plus the appropriate spicing, naturally, like some garlic and mexican flavors. Addy even liked it (she is 10 months old)
So then I cleaned up the rest of the Veggie bins with this African Chicken Stew. So easy…threw in cabbage, carrots and chopped up them celery plus a potato (we’re moving potatoes these days) and of course the old garlic and onion. Seasoned that with coriander, cumin (and you could go a little further on this, but I stayed mild since I thought I might grind it for Addy) Add the cooked chicken, the potatoes, some broth or water and then the peanut butter, just under a cup. HUH! Not at all bad. I think it needs more spicy though. Since it had peanuts and I added kidney beans (called for garbanzos, but no), can’t feed her this really. It’s a weird recipe, I am always reluctant to make it, but it works. I don’t know how very African it is, but that was what the recipe was called.
The best value in the world is a whole chicken. You get 5 lbs of chicken for like 5 bucks or something. I am so lazy, I take it out of the freezer and boil it from frozen, for like an hour, or till it looks good and done. Leave the gizzard in and everything. And if I want really good broth, I throw in the onion, the carrot and the celery leaves (but remember I am the lazy cook–or maybe just the pressed for time cook, so sometimes I just throw a big old frozen chicken into an 8 quart with lotsa water). That broth is pure gold. I freeze it, make everything with it, rice, soup, use it anywhere it calls for water. It never goes bad at my house, nor does it stick around. Then I make Jeff debone the thing, because I hate that part. Then I have a big old pile of chicken ready for anything–chicken quesadillas, stew, pot pie, sandwiches…any number of lazy weekday must-eat-now type things.
Which leads me to my philosophy on food. When it’s Tuesday night after work, my only thoughts are DELICIOUS FOOD NOW. So the froofroo stuff, it’s got to be made ahead of time, or it’s just not happening. And frankly, when starving, I would rather have a delicious yet not terribly imaginative old bowl of soup than some fancy thing. The more I cook, the more I am fond of new combinations on old favorites. I want to master something, then abuse it. See how far I can stretch it out of it’s comfort zone…
There are always things I want to try, like working with filo, or making risotto, which I haven’t done much of, or exploring the greek stuff–I tend to go towards ethnic foods. Russian food is really interesting, it is more technique than anything else I think, plus the ingredients. For instance, I can’t seem to make a decent borscht to save myself anymore…I have tossed the last two attempts, so unsavory–so far they were from what they should have been.
And now for the best cookies in the world I have discovered. They are basically a toll house chocolate chip cookie, but minus the chocolate chips and instead add cranberries and orange zest. Now, my lame store won’t sell the crans out of season, so I soak the craisins in the vanilla? O man! Also add about a cup walnuts and I think there’s only one egg instead of 2. My favorite part is that I don’t have to mess with all the cookies business, I spread em in an 11×13 and bake em up as bars. I swear they last longer that way and are just as good, plus take less time.