Quarantine Week 27

Well, I still haven’t moved my grill outside at the new place. But I am loving my new kitchen. All of my stuff fits, and there is still cabinet and drawer space available. It’s awesome to be able to get to all of my stuff without going into storage or having it piled all over. Now, if I can figure out how to train the kittens to stay off the counters, I’ll be in great shape.

Thursday (9/24) – We had a leftover night. I am trying to build these into each week since I cook a lot of food and am not great at portioning to avoid leftovers. In fact, I typically cook with the purpose of creating leftovers, if you haven’t read my blogs Cooking for Leftovers or Leftovers. I’m working on this skill for things that do not freeze well. It’s a work in progress, much like me.

Friday (9/25) – I made a cauliflower wellington. Think of the traditional beef dish, but substitute a whole head of cauliflower for the meat. For the pate, I blended mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and parmesan. I blanched the cauliflower first. I think next time I would either steam it a little more or roast the head whole first, and then wrap it, as the center was not quite at the doneness I would prefer. But the mushroom pate was a huge hit. I am going to try to use the same technique to try to create mushroom burgers by adding just a few more ingredients next week. I served it with creamed spinach because the kiddo has been asking for it. Yep, our extra picky 10-year-old loves creamed spinach. Surprised me too.

Saturday (9/26) – I took the leftover vegan “meatballs” from last week and turned them into a sort of vegetarian parmesan dish. I topped them with some marinara sauce and sliced mozzarella and baked. They were pretty damned good this way. The kid finished her plate, which I always take as a positive sign. We also made some homemade cheese crackers using Alton Brown’s sourdough recipe. I think my oven was a little hot, so next time I’ll try dropping the temperature just a bit. However, let’s marvel at the fact that these were successfully made with the help of the 10-year-old, and no one (meaning me) ran screaming from the kitchen.

Sunday (9/27) – Chili! I love chili, and while I do not confine it to colder seasons, it definitely has the ability to warm one inside and out. I love my homemade chili, but this time, I varied it up a bit. I added diced red and yellow bell peppers, reduced the chili powder to 2 tbsp, and added 1 tbsp of New Mexico Hot Chili powder. I also left out the siracha because it already had plenty of heat. I somehow got it a bit soupier than normal, but it was delicious.

Monday (9/28) – I made broccoli and cheese soup. This was mostly necessitated by the fact that I had taken chopped frozen broccoli from the fridge over the weekend with the intent to make a quiche before I realized I did not in fact have a pie crust in my fridge. Yes, I could have made my own, but quiche, especially a vegetarian quiche, just wasn’t worth the effort. And the soup was a huge success. Kiddo ate an entire bowl…on a Monday night. You can find my recipe here.

Tuesday (9/29) – I got all ambitious on Monday evening while I was making soup and took some leftover apple cinnamon doughboys (think donut crossed with a muffin) we had from out local bakery, cut them up, and made it into a French toast casserole. It ended up taking a bit longer than expected to cook in the morning, so we had a bit of a rushed breakfast, but it was good. For dinner, I made baked chicken thighs and mini potatoes. This is always a success. I love the way the potatoes absorb some of the chicken juices.

Wednesday (9/30) – I baked a new loaf of sourdough bread. This time, I mixed in chia seeds, so it had a texture similar to a good rye. I think I’ve been craving the rye because my flour guy has not yet added it to his available products since setting up his new shop. I’m really hoping it’s available soon. However, the new bread just screamed for soup, so I just reheated the leftover broccoli and cheese soup for dinner. Even on reheat, it was a smashing success. The bread may have helped with that.

So, I’m learning to balance one or two days a week of leftovers, sometimes done in creative ways to create variety, while addressing my need to cook without creating substantial food waste. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll get to know our new neighbors well enough to be like “here’s half a pork shoulder” or at least know if they would be interested. For now, I’m learning a new lesson in portion control and making sure we use a first-in, first-out method for dealing with the leftovers. I’ve also created a couple of experiments in my freezer to see if certain foods freeze well…can you already predict a future blog post?

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