Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lurking Fruits and Veggies

At this very moment, on Tuesday, June 16, 2009, I have a lot of fruits and veggies sitting in my refrigerator. Green onions, two fresh Serrano chiles, Roma tomatoes, jicama, two ears of corn, part of a red onion, papaya, mango, apple, grapefruit, an orange without the zest, mint, basil, cilantro, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, half a red cabbage, a carrot, radishes, an avocado, and yellow patty pan squash. Most were purchased for use in other dishes. Because I always buy a little bit more than I need, just in case, I always have leftovers.

There are at least four ways of dealing with them:

1. I can let them sit in the bottom drawers until they get soft and mushy and I can, without guilt, consign them to the compost bin.

2. I can use them in a reprise of the dish for which they were originally bought.

3. I can practice what my friend Anne in Albuquerque calls “cooking from the fridge.” She and her husband George are experts at it. She looks at what she has and decides how she is going to put the things together—a soup, pasta sauce, stew, omelet or frittata. And she does it brilliantly: she has a wealth of cooking experience and can draw on dishes she has made in the past to inform her.

4. Or I can make myself a cup of tea, sit down in my favorite chair with a couple of the cookbooks I’m currently “testing,” check out the indexes, and see what might work.

The truth is, I do all four.

The compost pile is such a lifesaver sometimes. “Waste not, want not” was a big part of my Mid-western heritage. The compost pile allows me to believe that I’m not really throwing the radishes away; I’m turning them into soil that will help my garden.

The reprise can work, but it is a little boring. I’d rather, if given a choice, make something new.

I do “cook from the fridge” occasionally, especially for lunches on the weekend. But for whatever reason, it is not the option I turn to very often. Somehow a drawer-full of produce doesn’t inspire me to create. I feel as tired as they do. But suddenly a fruit salad springs to mind, maybe with a hint of candied ginger and fresh mint. And maybe a cabbage, radish, and carrot slaw. Or guacamole. Or an iceberg lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing. Anne, are you out there sending me ideas? Maybe there's hope for me after all.

Now the fourth. That’s my favorite. The cup of tea, sitting in my chair with cookbooks on my lap. Let me tell you what I found. A Jicama Slaw recipe in Chocolate for Breakfast that uses the jicama, serrano chiles, red onion, and cilantro. Spicy Corn Frittata with Tomatoes and Scallions in Fresh Food Fast that uses tomatoes, two ears of corn, green onions, and more cilantro. And I remembered the Grilled Asparagus recipe in Bradley Ogden’s Breakfast Lunch and Dinner which I have used with patty pan squash in the past. Pretty good, eh?

I’ll let you know how it goes over the next couple of days.


stokesnet said...

Love the comments about composting. I once had a friend say, "Just because you have aging bananas, that doesn't mean you have to make banana bread."

Anne said...

Looks like you found some excellent recipes to clean out the fridge. I'll need to try the Jicama Slaw one of these's one of those veges (or is it considered a fruit) easily found here in NM along with the other ingredients.