Freezer + Leftover + UseNOW = Oooooweee!!!

translation: sweet potato puree + mixed greens with goat cheese and vinaigrette + quick fry pork chop and roasted beets


If Lydia were a Hipster

Here's the thing about good intentions, single life, and farmers markets, they wield a remarkable combination. Upside being, if I really commit to a well prepared plan, I can rock out a single trip over a good two weeks, maybe more. Downside being if I slip up just a bit, even for a second, I careen head first into "I just blew $40 on leafy greens I can no longer eat" territory. You gotta be quick. You gotta have a plan. You can't just turn tricks forever, you gotta have a goal, do you have a goal?

So in this week's effort to utilize the last of my market booty, I came across the expected lone impulse buy. You know, that item you don't really know why you bought.. usually the result of some daydream of grandeur. The kind that leave you with squash blossoms, goat cheese and no idea what you're doing. The outlier this week was the summer squash. I'm not even a bonafide fan of summer squash. I mean, it's tasty and all when done up with butter and onions, but.... what isn't? What else am I supposed to do with it? Hush, I know there are likely a TON of mouthwatering options, but this creature of habit is always going back to basics. But that squash was all pretty and bright and yellow.... so I HAD to have it...

So you can imagine my sadness when I had to rid myself of it at the end of the week, having come up with nothing new or inventive. I was on the verge of losing it and could feel myself leaning toward habit. Since I hadn't ordered or eaten out in weeks, I was determined to keep the flow going and come up with anything that would make me feel like the Queen of Odds. I readily admit, using the hashtag #masterleftovermakeover makes me feel suuuuuper cool.

I also had a bit of the fresh kale I'd bought the week before that was starting to become a little... soft. So after a few Kim Crawfords, and a round of Titanium Radio on Pandora, the kitchen was getting warm. It was about to be on fiyah! I tossed the remainder of the large spring onions (about 3) with the one summer squash into the food processor and let 'er rip. Transferred to a mixing bowl, chopped up the kale (about 1/2 cup) *chop that kale really really fine* and added that to the mix.

*herein is where I should have squeezed the contents of its water before proceeding.. proceed*

I added two eggs at this point because I though I had enough raw material. I'm not sure if that was my first detour. Added panko breadcrumbs (maybe 1/2 cup? almost 3/4?) as though I was pulling off a standard croquette of any kind. Seasoned with a mirage of different spices. I was still on that coriander/cumin obsession so went that route, with a little cayenne and black pepper plus salt as always. Suit to taste and don't overmix.

Hmmmm, batter too wet. Don't want to add more crumbs. Superstars to remain veggie. Maintain dignity.

So I strained in cheesecloth. Wait, I didn't have any cheesecloth. Ugh. *strain in cheesecloth if you're willing to fuck up to this extent to enjoy the benefits. I promise, it's soooo worth it* Lined a mixing bowl with several paper towels and literally dumped the mix right in. Covered with plastic and slid it in the refrigerator. Then waited. Then forgot. Then waited again. By the time I was ready, amazingly, the panko was still doing its job, but the mix felt too fragile to hold together. I needed something. A binder and NOT an egg. Something else.

So I added what was right in front of me. Yes, Ms. Lydia, YES!

And there it sat. Just the right amount, with just the right seasoning. Hummus. That lone little bit (about 1/4 cup) of roasted garlic hummus that was just begging to be used. "Don't give up on me!" it piped up in a small voice... "Put me anywhere! I won't let you down.." Oh, little chickpea, you certainly did not.

In it went and I formed four balls. Ready for the skillet.

To be honest, I was unsure of all this. I had gone to all this trouble, tried to be all cute adding the kale and wasn't so sure my m├ęthode de croquettes was going to work out in this instance. Even more terrifying, I may have wasted more potential nutritious ingredients than if I'd forgotten about the dang squash altogether. This had better work. A lot was riding on it. Namely, dinner.

Just to be safe, I called in for reinforcements. One obvious ploy for foolproof decadence. I was going to fry it and fry it well.

Dans le beurre.

Melt some butter (with olive oil to prevent burning) and make sure there is enough to really make it special, with plenty to go around. All croquettes will crisp up beautifully and finish perfectly. Throw some red onion in the cooling pan once the croquettes have been removed and let it soak up all that yummy brown (by now, i'm sure) butter. There's your garnish.

I think this is the best veggie burger I've ever had.... and it's my very own! Simply from the odds and ends of a farmers market run. Gotta write this one down. Oh, right...

I served it up with pan fried butter (Paula, we haven't forgotten you) buns, those fried onions, tomato and romaine with a side of cheddar beer potato chips.  I mean, fuuuuuuuuuck!  Come ON!!!


Many A Little Makes A Mickle

Lately, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to waste very little in the kitchen. I mean, VERY little. Fat gets stored, bones make stock kind of effort.  Taking careful inventory of what's in the freezer and trying to really stretch ingredients as far as they can go. I'm completely obsessed with the need to use something to its bitter end and have come to revere the Great Depression approach to the pantry. It's positively addicting.

So. I've been reading this book. Over and over again. It's called The American Frugal Housewife and Ms. Lydia Maria Child, the lady who wrote it is simply not, in no uncertain terms, fucking around. It's the same woman who penned the poem "Over the River and Through the Woods". A handsome and austere woman whose whipping stick jumps out and threatens you through her portrait.

"The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost."

If something is brought into the house, it is utilized. Until it's a remnant of itself. She brags how she wastes nothing, kind of demands you do the same and pretty much screams at you throughout the book. You'll feel inadequately wasteful after the read (pun totally intended), I promise. Slightly dirty with a layer of indulgent film on your skin that's hard to get off.

"Look frequently to the pails, to see that nothing is thrown to the pigs which should have been in the grease-pot. Look to the grease-pot, and see that nothing is there which might have served to nourish your own family, or a poorer one."

With my newfound OCD (people with actual OCD, sorry), I get kind of excited everytime I use something I would normally (obnoxiously) overlook. A little turned on.. a little. So it was the beet greens from last weeks farmers market booty that did it for me. The beets translated into a very good, yet unimaginative, salad that is a common go to for those who love a sweet beet, but head to familiar arrangements that end up garnished with walnuts or pecans. I was determined not to throw out a morsel of my $35 spent at the market, so set about washing greens, trimming asparagus and freezing strawberries as soon as I got home. This was the new me.

This time around, I couldn't bring myself to toss the beet greens. There were a ton. It seemed too great to let go. So I did a bit of research. Google was feeling lucky and schooled me quickly by rolling "Beet Greens: The World's Healthiest Foods"... well alright, alright, alright.

Beet greens get their superfood status by being a leafy green vegetable with the distinction of providing an outstanding source of both calcium and magnesium.  Not 100% sure why this is remarkable, but it sounds really good, doesn't it?

As soon as I read that I could basically use the greens in place of spinach, it was pretty much the wild west. The party was on. I can honestly tell you, I'd read a book by its cover. I'd given beet greens a bad rap and that bitter taste was all in my head. Pure fiction. A classic case of a snap decision based on ignorance.

I basically made a cream of spinach soup with cashew cream in place of dairy. I'm always down with a cream of whatever, so I followed the standard process.

Sauteed some lovely large spring onions I'd picked up at the farmers market in a few knobs of butter then tossed in the washed and trimmed greens.  I pretty much only used the leaves. Salt up the veggies and add spices to taste.  Since I was all pumped about the essential minerals I was going to score in the beet greens, I took the superfood goodness a step further and spiced it up with cayenne, coriander, and cumin. Wonder spices, just ask Dr. Oz. I know, I know, he'll tell you anything, but honestly, there are some big punches packed in those tiny little seeds. I added chicken stock and let all that simmer for about 10 minutes.

I heard a rumor that garlic benefits you more when raw, so before blending I added a good amount of raw garlic to the sauteed veggies and stock.

Blend until smooth in a blender or with an immersion. Add cashew cream to taste and a splash of lemon juice to balance everything out. Season to taste.

I served mine with a few pumpernickel micro breadcrumbs.