Friday, June 29, 2012

Food Waste Friday

Well, it's just been ages since I've made this kind of a post, isn't it? I think we can all be honest here and acknowledge that at this point in my life, sporadic posting is about all I have in me. Hope y'all are okay with that.

This last week, there's been no food waste. This makes me happy.

I will admit that there've been a few weeks where I've tossed away something (like the cup of grapes I threw away a week or two ago because I made the really unfortunate discovery that no, in fact, we had NOT eaten all the grapes as I'd thought we had). For the most part, however, we've still been doing really well on the waste front, despite the lack of posting-that-creates-accountability.

One thing I've noticed us doing lately that I feel has really been helping with the food waste is simply not going to the store. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. Y'all know I keep a good amount of staples in the house (even though my Cave is now officially defunct), in the form of canned goods, grains, flour, eggs and flesh in the freezer. So when we go to the store (about once a month, excepting incidentals here or there where we ran out of just flour, or just onions, or just-whatever-that-one-thing-is-that-I-can't-cook-today-without), we load up. And I mean, really load up. The most we've spent on this method is $200, which sets us at a max of $50/week (which honestly really IS a little high for just two people, even when one of those people comes in at 1.58 the mass of the other). We go to the produce section, and buy whatever our little hearts desire in there: fruits, squashes, everything. The produce we select seems to have a strange shelf life breakdown. First week, tons of fruits and super perishable veggies (green beans, lettuce, etc) get eaten, and life is glorious. Second week, there're still apples, oranges, and other fruits that have a longer shelf life, plus celery, carrots, etc. Week three, oh look - parsnips! potatoes! blah blah! And by week four, we're down to maybe a squash, and the remaining onions and garlic (garlic, seriously? We must eat 15 heads a month on a slow month). And then there's simply nothing left in the house in terms of fresh produce, and then I know a trip to the store is in order. By that point our meals are getting pretty boring anyway, so I'm thankful for the trip even if I'm not thankful to put out so much money at one time. I'm finding that by basing my shopping habits on what is happening in the produce drawers, I waste almost nothing.

I know I will want stock for risottos and such, so every scrap of onion/garlic peel, every carrot end, every cucumber end and peel gets stuffed in the freezer for stock later. Why'd I buy so many bananas when Ross never eats more than one? Oh yeah - into the freezer with those for future banana bread. Too many squashes and they're looking a little like they're on their last legs? Slice them and freeze them raw, then use the slices to grill, roast, mash or other things with. Those fresh lemons I didn't need the peels for? I'm cutting them into halves and stuffing them in the freezer. Later, I can zest them (which, btw, is stupidly easy when the fruit halves are frozen), or if I don't want to use them for that, I can even run a piece of a half through the garbage disposal on cleaning day. Or even rub a frozen-then-thawed peel on my wood furniture after oiling it (or better yet, make preserved lemons with your leftover peels). Made too much coffee? Freeze in ice cube trays and make frothy frozen coffee drinks later, or just plunk a few cubes of coffee in a cup of milk to melt into deliciousness.

So this method is working really well for me at this point. How're y'all doing with managing your food waste? Any tips I need to know about? Let's get some more information sharing on this topic!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warm Parsnip and Walnut Salad

Turns out my LDL is a bit high, so I've been eating more walnuts to help bring it down. Mostly I've just been eating them plain and of course my normal, baked goods doses. But I thought I ought to step it up a notch, and start cooking more with walnuts. And thus, this recipe happened. I was feeling lazy so I made Italian dressing chicken with red rice, but I wanted some real food too. There were some parsnips in the fridge I'd totally forgotten about, and one of Ross' coworkers gave him some garden tomatoes, and it sort of went from there. Hope you enjoy!

5 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and grains of paradise (or pepper) to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 tablespoons tangy pickle juice or lemon juice (I used pickle juice from farmer's market pickles)

2 tomatoes, diced
2 sprigs thai basil, chopped
10 pickled cubanelle peppers, diced
1/2 cup walnut halves, chopped or not as you see fit

Heat oven to 400F. Grab your large cast iron skillet (I used a 12", if you don't want to do it that way, a sheet pan will be just fine, or however you normally roast things) and fill it up with the oil, onion, olive oil (I generally use mid-grade extra virgin oil for these sorts of applications), seasonings and pickle juice. Roast 20 minutes, stir and roast another 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, peppers and walnuts, stirring well. Turn OFF oven and put the pan back in the oven for 10 minutes to an hour (i.e., you can make this an hour or so before you plan to serve it. When you take it out of the oven is determined by how hot you want it). Serves 2 as a large side.

No picture, because I realised hours after we'd eaten it that this was new stuff and y'all might want to know about it. I've been quiet since I haven't been doing new stuff lately.