(More from the Leftover Chef)
My idea was to “create a brand” for myself, which is what my job club had advised.
I could teach others how to get by buying next to nothing. An elevator speech unfolded before my eyes. TV’s Food Network made altogether too many demands on the budget requiring the cook to go grocery shopping for a themed repast. Stews, barbecue, Southern cooking, tiered desserts, French omelets, Mediterranean scaffolds of fish and rice.
Not in my condo, bub, which was seriously underwater; I created meals from the back of my refrigerator and from the very shadows of canned food shelves where I had never gone before, a kind of Star Trek of the stomach. I decided to market myself to a niche that as far as my preliminary research had indicated, was nicheless.
My recipes are guidelines. They come from daily life, from ingredients that the average household has forgotten. Didn’t President Ronald Reagan push for including ketchup as one of the four food groups? That’s what I’m talking about. Isn’t pizza simply bread, tomato sauce, and cheese with a fancy name? Fancy names are cheap.
My ingredients aren’t hard to find. Most of them come from the refrigerator door: Ketchup, mustard, relish, chutney, horseradish, and jams. There’s also accumulated food items captured over time in the hopes of trying out something new, a plan that went awry: tahini, capers, pickled cauliflower, puff pastry, an assortment of spices. I think of these as “specialty items.”
What now stands in full view is a food budget poorly managed. This is where the Leftover Chef steps in to concoct all manner of new approaches to eating. See it as part of the green movement. Recycling.
Use my recipes to plummet through the shoals of your own creativity, an invitation to discover your potential in lean times.
- Half a head of cabbage
- Any part of an onion
- Tomatoes from the rejected produce section
- Any other wilting veggies
- Bits of leftover meat (optional)
- Salsa molding at back of the refrigerator (dig to the bottom where the stuff starts to look okay)
- Liquid of any kind including chicken broth, white wine, or water (tap water is fine)
- Cooking oil
- Seasonings like chile powder or hot sauce
- Noodles of any kind
In a separate pan, boil water, cook noodles, drain and set aside.
Heat up a large frying pan on the stove. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of oil.
Put on sunglasses and dice the onion. Don’t cry. Things will get better. If you have different onions wrapped up in plastic like a half of a red and yellow, both or either will work. Saute in oil.
As the crow flies north, cut the cabbage into strips and place into the pan with the cooked onions. Mix around on a low flame until everything is soft about 5 to 10 minutes.
Slice your tomatoes and throw them into the pot to create a nice mush.
Slice and add any other wilting veggies like celery or broccoli from the “crisper.” Cook everything together for another 5 minutes, stirring during commercial break.
Dice any leftover meat like chicken, turkey, or tofu sausage. If you don’t have any, don’t sweat it.
Just get the salsa from the refrigerator door and measure out about 2 Tablespoons into the mix.
Add a cup of some liquid.
Add seasonings to taste.
Mix in the cooked noodles and cook and stir some more.
Serve with a cool glass of water. For a nice touch, add a lemon slice.