"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Challenge Update: A week with no shopping

This morning, we ended up having to go into the big city (a/k/a Ithaca), so breakfast out (again) and quite filling it was.
Pat had a bowl of the white bean and chorizo soup as a snack in the afternoon.
I simmered a stock of leftover beef bones (ribs, both short and long), along with some veg scraps from the freezer (chard stems and leek greens.) I hope to make some French Onion soup on Saturday night, as I will have had a very long day at work. Onions have become like gold. I am fairly stocked, but not as well as I thought. I don't think I realised how many onions I go through. Maybe I give some thought to sources.
Dinner as inspired by Molly Wizenberg's article and recipe on kale in October's Bon Appetit. I followed the recipe-- braising half a bunch of kale left from this weekend's decor-fest with onion and plenty of garlic. It took much less than the suggested 20 minutes, despite having added watr. I deglazed with some Sauv Blanc that got left open last night, and crumbled in two Gianelli's hot Italian sausage patties (who have been sequestered in our downstairs freezer from the grillin' days of summer.) In the meantime, I boiled water for the orphaned pastas in my lazy susan pantry: 1/3 box rotini, 1/3 box of ditalini, a handful of linguini (ok, I'm holding on to some of this for later this week.) The pasta was then tossed into the kale and sausage mixture, and served with some freshly grated parm and a squeeze of lemon. Really delicious, and will be repeated even when I can shop! (I'd like to experiment with frozen spinach, but suspect the texture won't be nearly as good.)

We've learned: kale + sausage (Hot Italian, Chorizo...) + something starchy (beans, pasta)= Success.

I'm discovering that week will hardly put a dent in our stash. We could probably live on lentils for a week, if necessary (and we've only lived in the house since late June!) I will keep it going as long as I can, allowing for purchases of necessary perishables, as well as everything for Thanksgiving.

I must confess, Reverend Mother, Patrick bought milk today (mainly for coffee, though I will use it for cooking as necessary,) and a Hershey bar that he had for lunch (despite there being delicious leftovers in the fridge.)

We both had store brand Cheerios for breakfast today, which I later supplemented with cardomom glazed carrots & parsnips and gorgonzola polenta leftover from the Winemaker's Dinner I worked at last week. (These were side dishes to some amazing braised short ribs, also from Autumn's Harvest. Sam Izzo is a genius!) I may try to recreate this polenta for Christmas. It was beautiful.

I found a dying cauliflower in the back of my fridge, which I had been meaning to roast. Unfortunately, no time for that today, so I made a big batch of Curried Cauilflower soup. I foolishly added too much water, but in a blaze of inspiration I added the pureed root veg leftover from Sunday's braised ribs. This is the sort of creativity I was hoping this challenge would bring forth.
Both are good, so the combo shouldn't be bad. I'll have a bowl for dinner, topped with a dollop of yogurt, and pasta/sausage/kale leftover from last night. Pat is having the one remaining rib and maybe some soup as well.

I am working all day tomorrow, so we'll see how I do under those circumstances. I am defrosting some lump crabmeat that my mum sent up from Maryland.

This challenge is already starting to effect the way I think. Today, I decided to stop agonizing over what wine to buy for Thanksgiving. There are several choices amongst the collection of bottles that I hoard that will be splendid. After all, isn't this one of those special occasions I've been saving them for?

I needed a greasy breakfast today: a hot italian sausage patty (must use them up now that I've defrosted the pack!) and a couple fried eggs. (Gosh, the eggs are running low!)

I took leftovers to work: kale & sausage pasta and some cauliflower, etc. soup. Crabcakes tonight!

I'd had a pound of lump crab mead from MD in my fridge since late August. I put it in the fridge to defrost since last night, and it still wasn't close to defrosted when I got home from work today. I was hesitant to defrost in the microwave, but determined to have the crab cakes tonight. I zapped it in 20 sec intervals and after a minute or so, it was thawed enough to squeeze out and mix with the seasonings. No visible harm done to the meat-- phew! (I used the Chesepeake Crab Cake recipe on the Old Bay website. It worked very well.) I served the cakes on a bed of romaine. The lemon vinaigrette used up a half of lemon in my fridge, but was a little too oily. Will work on the balance.
I missed with the beautiful, buttery Chardonnay I paired with this dish. We would have been better off with a nice, crisp (dry) Riesling. That'll teach me to second guess Dornenburg & Page.

For breakfast I made biscuits and sausage gravy, to use up the rest of the package of sausage patties I opened earlier this week. I've never made this at home, but often order it when we go out for breakfast. Quite successful, considering. Delicious fresh biscuits made from scratch with hot sausage gravy over top, and there's enough for tomorrow morning too. Yay!

Lunch was a little of this and that: a couple leftover empanadas and leftover white bean, kale and chorizo soup.

In the meantime, I went rummaging in our shed to get out the china for Thanksgiving. Our dishes all used to be Pat's mother's. There is a blue willow style pattern, which we use daily, and a pink one that has been packed away. Pat said the pink set would be appropriate for Thanksgiving, as it depicts scenes from American history. What a treasure! They are so charming, and there is such a great variety. I was thinking I might have to buy some serving dishes for the side dishes on Thanksgiving, but this give me an abundance to work with-- and all matching! Hurray for no shopping!

For dinner we had a package of frozen mussels that I found hiding in the freezer. The flavor is nowhere good as fresh, but I bought two packages cheap as an experiment so these had to get eaten! I steamed them with chorizo, onions and a splash of Gewurztraminer, and served with a biscuit to soak up the tasty juice.

Before going to sleep, I sliced 3 small onions from the precious store, tossed with some olive oil, dried thyme, s&p and a splash of Gewurztraminer, and popped them into the crockpot to caramelize overnight.

I started the the day with a healthy serving of biscuits & sausage gravy, and steam some basmati rice to take to work and have with some of the curried cauliflower, etc. soup. I also have made a salad from some fading Napa cabbage and leftover sesame/soy dressing. This should do for lunch both Saturday & Sunday.

It was great to come home after a long day and know I was only minutes away from a great meal. I had made the stock and caramelized the onions ahead of time, so I just warmed these in a sauce pan with a glug of port.

There was a some crabmeat left from the other night, so I shaped it into little crab cakes to serve as appitizer and broiled this for a couple minutes. These wouldn't hold together, so I decided to toss the crab into a salad with romaine hearts and leftover lemon vinaigrette (with extra lemon added.) This turned out to be the ideal counterpart to the soup.

There were lots of crostini leftover from my mom's birthday party the other week, which I froze and will be happy to have in the next couple weeks. A couple of these crostini were used as croutons for the French Onion soup.

Next I set out to clean out the cheese drawer in my fridge. Very little gruyere, and lots of pieces from Cowlick, our friend Andy's farm (yes-- THAT cheese farm.) Patrick, my faithful sous chef, grated an assortment of these until we had the right amount for two crockfuls of bubbly soup and cheese.

Having decided on the wines for Thanksgiving, I also decided I had to try a bottle of Lamoreaux 2005 Merlot to make sure it hadn't completely gone off the edge. It was a delightful pairing with the soup, with lots of nice berry flavours. It may be slightly past its peak, but still a great wine. Looking forward to the vertical tasting with the Thanksgiving feast.

What a satisfying, boost of a meal!

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