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12 March 2009

Whew!. . .I was concerned that it would show me how to make macrame slippers out of food scraps. . .
posted by danf 12 March | 09:54
No, it just tells you how to make food out of food.;-)
posted by Orange Swan 12 March | 09:56
I was hoping for things I didn't already know. Maybe I'm just too used to being poor. :(

One tip they didn't have: After squeezing the juice out of a lemon, I put the juiced lemon halves in a ziploc bag and into the freezer. That way I always have lemon zest hanging around. (It's easier to grate when it's frozen, too. Bonus!)
posted by mudpuppie 12 March | 10:09
I make bread pudding out of bread crusts.
posted by Orange Swan 12 March | 10:20
The problem is that you actually have to have food in the kitchen in the first place to do these things.
posted by octothorpe 12 March | 10:54
...mudpuppie, you're a genius.

(Now I have an excuse for having refrigerated the juiced grapefruit half from last nights's Sea Breeze! I, uh, always planned to freeze it for zesting!)

The article didn't have any new advice for me, but thanks for the brilliant tip, mudpuppie!
posted by Elsa 12 March | 10:57
These ideas probably aren't new to anyone either, but I bake with sour milk and overripe fruit.
posted by Orange Swan 12 March | 11:20
I was hoping for things I didn't already know.

Me too. Between my grandmothers and my years of restaurant work, I have most of these going on already (with the exeption that I never have leftover meats, and leftover wine? Isn't that some kind of oxymoron?) One of my restaurants also roasted empty lobster shells (with shrimp shells) and then turned them into an incredible lobster stock for bisque. I don't like lobster but even I thought it was pretty great.

Timely, though. It's funny, just this morning I was thinking about posting about my strong desire for a chest freezer. I don't have the money and I have nowhere to put one, but to me, the chest freezer is the key to living large for less. My inner 1930s Farm Wife would fill it up right quick. I've been rearranging my freezer all winter to make room for the frozen chickens bought on sale, the large bags of veggie scraps & bones waiting to become stock, the chunks of stale bread waiting to become bread pudding, bread crumbs, or Frech Onion soup croutons, the little cigars of frozen herbs from last summer...the only problem with saving everything is having somewhere to put it. If I had a chest freezer, oh man, I would stock it up with berries picked in season for cheap, ditto corn, green beans, and meat purchased in bulk from the farms, also for (relatively!) cheap.

mudpuppie, great tip on the citrus peel. I was just recently wondering if I could freeze pre-grated zest. This is much simpler and superior - no lost oils! A new trick up my sleeve.

I always have trouble with mashed potatoes. I don't make them that much, but I always have leftovers when I do. Potatoes duchesse are pretty good, but I haven't had much success with other uses. Shepherd's pie, I guess.

And the ultimate last step in the no-waste kitchen -- composting the small remainder of kitchen scraps that are left, or giving them to a friendly local pig farmer.
posted by Miko 12 March | 11:32
The beauty of it, Orange Swan, is that you never know what's going to be a new idea for someone else!

We're more likely to run out of milk than to have it go sour. Yogurt, on the other hand...

We're very likely to have a tiny bit of yogurt lurking in the bottom of the big tub, so I figured out that if I thin down yogurt (plain, lowfat) with water and maybe a little lemon juice, I can use it in baked goods. Sometimes I have to adjust the leaveners to compensate for acidity; I'm working out the chemistry of it.
posted by Elsa 12 March | 11:36
That lemon-freezing tip is great, mudpuppie. I'll definitely be using it. I find that sour milk makes better scones than fresh, so that's what I tend to use it for on the rare occasions that it gets that far.

I deliberately make extra mashed potatoes so that I can make salmon cakes. Mix the mash with a can or two of salmon, an egg, some minced shallot/sweet onion/green onion, fresh herbs if you like (I like parsley &/or dill), s&p. Make patties, dredge in cornmeal, fry. Keep finished cakes warm in the oven on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
posted by elizard 12 March | 11:51
One related kitchen tip. You know how some people have compost containers somewhere on the counter, to take out to the bin when full?

In hot months, we keep this in the freezer, so it will not smell up the kitchen. One bonus feature is that it seems to break the food down more quickly.
posted by danf 12 March | 11:53
For a year I've been using up a huge jug of homemade village wine brought to us by a friend that wasn't quite right for drinking but kills in soups, stews and sauces. I'll be bereft when it's finally all gone.

I'm really happy that now we have Sky, I'm never short of poultry broth. I often boil turkey legs or quarters for her food, and that is fabulous, fabulous broth for soup base, yeeehaw!

My problem is that we have a teenyweeny, itsybitsy, microscopic freezer compartment. It's wee, I tell you. I want to get a stand-alone freezer the size of a washing machine, but V. is resisting. Not because of cost or space, which are both issues right now... but because of sound. Noise. Leave it to a sound engineer.
posted by taz 12 March | 12:04
Oh, a chest freezer! I want a chest freezer the way other people want a convertible!

It's become a tiny joke at home: every so often, I turn to The Fella and say wistfully, "Some day, when we have our own house ---"

And he stops me there, saying, "Freezer?"

Yup. To fill with pies and bread dough and lasagne and jars of stock and home-frozen in-season produce and and and.

A wedding bonus: we hoped to prep all the food for our wedding, making and freezing it and hiring some helpers to cook it on the wedding day, but we'd have to devote our entire fridge freezer as well as my mother's to storing the food.

Then my sister offered to set up --- Yes! --- a chest freezer in her cellar for us to use. Bliss!
posted by Elsa 12 March | 12:13
I always have trouble with mashed potatoes.

Add a beaten egg, some flour, some green onion, and make potato patties out of them. If you want to go irish, add some leftover cooked cabbage to them. Cook/fry in a little bit of oil until crispy, or freeze uncooked patties if you're really sick of potatoes by that point.
posted by mudpuppie 12 March | 12:16
It breaks my heart to throw food away; some sort of Puritanical frugality thing, I guess. I save up citrus peels and candy them. I almost never throw away bones before boiling them for stock. Really, almost never--we ate out at a chicken place last night, and I brought the bones home and made stock, even though it was late, putting in the refrigerator just as I was going to bed. For lunch today, I brought the leftover chicken to work and made an impromptu taco salad with stuff from the cafeteria. I do the same with pasta--our cafeteria is a pay-by-the-ounce place, and they have separate pasta and sauce bins, so I pay only for the sauce. Leftover shrimp or salmon or chicken or ham gets turned into salad (the shrimp shells boiled to make shrimp-and-grits, of course) leftover rice becomes rice pudding, leftover beans become chili, and leftover chili becomes burritos.

I think the only thing that keeps me from being completely obsessive is our compost bin--I can put things in there without guilt, usually.
posted by mrmoonpie 12 March | 12:16
I think the only thing that keeps me from being completely obsessive is our compost bin--I can put things in there without guilt, usually.

Same here -- but for me, it's more about the chickens. If I'm really sick of something and just can't deal with turning it into something else, or if it's too far gone to salvage, I just say "Chicken food!" and I feel like I've done a good deed.
posted by mudpuppie 12 March | 12:18
I'm still skeptical of this:
Don't throw out those dried ends of Parmesan or Romano cheese. They can be tossed into soup and will melt away, adding a nice depth and richness.
A while ago someone else told me to throw them in a sauce.
I thought the rind was actually a sort of wax or something; there doesn't seem to be any flavour to it.
Okay to eat the rind?
posted by chococat 12 March | 12:36
Another lemon tip, which I may have picked up here originally is if you have a lemon you don't think you'll get to, cut it into wedges and toss them into a bag in the freezer.

That way, if you don't have a fresh one to zest, you have one, and even better, you can toss a lemon wedge into your ice tea, and it acts both as a lemon wedge and an ice cube!

I try to use everything up too, adding leftover sauces to new sauces or using leftover rice as a fried rice the next day. Some of my new favorite meals have come from trying to use up leftovers in a new way.

posted by Sil 12 March | 12:45
Also, I'm with Miko on leftover wine. I kinda snorted when I read that. My sister and I are a little confused about decorative wine stoppers for the same reason - why would you need to use one of those? hehe
posted by Sil 12 March | 12:46
Sil, I'll tell you exactly why. Because then you can open the room temp. white wine you just bought, have the first glass with an ice cube (it's okay, I'm in Greece... watering the wine is an ancient tradition), stopper the rest of the bottle and put it in the freezer for a quick chill while you have the first glass, because you are too impatient to wait for the more usual method.

Not that I would ever do that. I'm just conjecturing.
posted by taz 12 March | 12:55
adding leftover sauces to new sauces
Heehee--I have a perpetual barbecue sauce jar in the freezer. Each time I make barbecue, I take the old stuff, add new stuff, then re-freeze the leftovers. Some of that sauce must be years old by now.
posted by mrmoonpie 12 March | 13:12
Since when does anyone have left over brownies. Seriously.
"and he can turn beans into peas!"
"Oh Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence."-Time Bandits
posted by plinth 12 March | 13:32
Ooooo Taz, that makes perfect sense. I've only recently learned to like white wines, so it explains why I hadn't learned that yet. You have successfully rescued my cute little wine stoppers that just sit in my drawer!
posted by Sil 12 March | 13:35
I will totes have to bookmark this for when I am on my own. (And will hopefully be able to make noodles without burning the house down.)
posted by sperose 12 March | 13:38
Oh, that's a good one, Sil.

Okay to eat the rind?

Yeah, totally, at least on Parmesan. Obviously if there's a definite wax seal around it, take that off first, but the 'tough' part that is the outside of Parm is just the rind it develops from being bathed in salt water many times and aging. It is a little hard on the tooth to eat as grating/slicing cheese, but it works out really nicely in stews and soups.
posted by Miko 12 March | 14:01
And, you know, a little wax won't kill you.
posted by mrmoonpie 12 March | 14:19
I always have trouble with mashed potatoes. I don't make them that much, but I always have leftovers when I do.

Make bannock bread. I also have a potato donut recipe that was my Grandmother Swan's but I don't make them very often because they're addictive and high calorie.
posted by Orange Swan 12 March | 14:39
Potato ...donuts? Holy Mary, mother of God. You gotta post that recipe.

And I'll have to do the "cut up lemon (lime) and freeze the wedges" thingie. We're always buying them and they get icky before we get to them.

Old-ish bananas also go into the freezer to be used in banana bread and pancakes.
posted by deborah 12 March | 18:43
I will be buying a freezer when I get a house. In that freezer will go: fruits picked in season, bulk meat purchased directly from a farmer, whole tomatoes that I didn't get around to canning, and basically everything else I grow so I can have it during the winter. YAY!
posted by Stewriffic 12 March | 21:04
We worked out that it costs us about $100 a year to run our chest freezer, but I calculate that I've saved at least three times that buying bulk meat or fish and not counting the extra meals from left-overs and vegetables. We had a second-hand freezer that failed catastrophically while we were on holiday (of course!), so my tip is to spend the money on something new. You just don't want to be coming home to a half-thawed fish/meat/bread golem that bolts for freedom as soon as you open the door.

Danf: that tip about freezing the compost stuff is outstanding! I just wish I'd found it at the beginning of Summer rather than the end.
posted by ninazer0 13 March | 03:45
Oh yeah, and for those without a deep freeze, there's always canning, which doesn't have to be a monumental pain in the ass (just a minor one). I've found this book very helpful: a huge variety of yummy preserves in small, manageable batches (2-4 jars), so if you don't have all day to process a big batch of something you can just do a bit when you have a couple of hours.

(And I wish I'd known about freezing compost years ago. That's brilliant.)
posted by elizard 13 March | 07:48
I meant to add that there are small chest freezers out there as well. We have a large one (swapped our smaller freezer with the previous house owner's large freezer) and it's dead quiet. You have to open it to know that it's still working.
posted by deborah 13 March | 12:35
I was thinking about this again today because I ran across another little 'saving' trick -- when you unwrap a stick of butter, fold the paper wrapper and pop it into the freezer. Then grab one or two whenever you're baking and need to grease a tray. It works beautifully. I learned that one from the Food Network.

Here's a challenge for yas: I ate the last of a jar of roasted red peppers today and then stood there for a second looking at the roasted-pepper-flavored brine that they'd been packed in. I couldn't think of anything to do with it, so I tossed it. Ideas?
posted by Miko 14 March | 20:37
Oops, I forgot I had two: if you end up (like I always do) with 5 or 6 noodles left in a box of lasagna noodles, cook 'em and roll 'em up with a ricotta/spinach stuffing and bake 'em with sauce and cheese. Cannelloni.
posted by Miko 14 March | 20:39
The butter-wrapper trick is great; I learned it from an M.F.K. Fisher essay, so I supect it's been around almost as long as butter's come in waxy wrappers. (Sticking it in the freezer is a great idea --- I usually just pop it in a covered dish in the fridge.)

I suspect the red pepper brine is too salty to use as an ingredient, but how about using it to make a semi-pickled vegetable? I'm thinking blanched green beans or maybe thin-sliced cucumbers. They'd soften up a bit, soak up the flavor and a little salt, and be a nice addition to a salad.

I've never tried this (usually I preserve red peppers in oil, which has a thousand uses after the peppers are gone), but it seems like it would work.
posted by Elsa 14 March | 20:58
I had leftover brine from a can of clams earlier this week and used it instead of water when cooking mustard greens.

I also have a megacrapload of huge ass monster mutant mustard stalks (they're like 2 inches diameter) in a ziploc bag in the freezer - the green bits got stripped off and cooked, but I have no idea what to do with the stems. I don't have a compost bin.
posted by casarkos 14 March | 23:08
A frog in a string || So I was expecting more action on my fantasy baseball league...