Monday, June 27, 2016

Everyday Creativity in the Kitchen

After any period of indulgence in one activity or another, whether it be food and drink, TV-watching, or spending, I usually feel compelled for a time to reign that activity in with a bit more discipline.  After our vacation I was feeling inspired to spend less in anticipation of more traveling expenses when we came home for the summer.  I started playing the game of what can I create in the kitchen with what's in the freezer and cupboard without going to the store for any extras.

There's a sense in which figuring out what to make for dinner is what happens every night in the kitchen, but a couple of weeks ago I was trying to approach it with more imagination.  It felt like a magical night in my kitchen, but that could have been because James was watching Ratatouille in the corner while I chopped onions, so the atmosphere bar was higher than normal.  That movie always makes me want to cook.

I don't have pretty pictures because I didn't know I was creating a masterpiece, a masterpiece not for it's beauty or refinement, but because my husband ate three bowls, and it brought us both back to a moment in our childhood and the vegetable soup our moms made for us, much like the food critic Anton Ego's experience with Emile's ratatouille.

My starting point was some lean ground beef I'd already cooked, left over from something else.  It's so easy for me to forget about things like that and end up throwing it away, and I was determined to do something with it.  Vegetable soup!  I knew I had some Knorr beef cubes in the pantry that my mom had used when she was visiting and making up her own stew.  I chopped an onion and sauteed it in a little olive oil, added some beef broth and sliced carrots to boil.  I thought I was in trouble when I realized I was out of potatoes but discovered some good frozen peas and sweet corn (or just corn as we call it in the U.S.) in the freezer and added that toward the end.  Salt, pepper, basil, rosemary.  Did I mention KJ ate three bowls?  And it proved a good way for even Ella to eat lots of veggies, too.

Since you're not going to find a buttermilk biscuit anywhere around here I've been practicing my mama's recipe more and more.  I've had varying degrees of success and non-success, but this night it all came together.  Was it using half unsalted and half salted butter because that was all I had?  I don't know.  Maybe I handled the dough just the right amount, but the results were fluffy with just the right amount of saltiness, just the right amount of southern comfort.

Not beautiful, not fancy, but I wanted to record and remember the way we ate in the kitchen gathered around the pot, with the ending strains of Ratatouille playing in the background.

What's your favorite throw-it-all together with what you've got meal?  We've since re-made this one on purpose.


  1. I love this! That's a great memory you've made. :) Our favorite throw-it-together meals usually consist of a sort-of omelet, because we have chickens and are overrun with eggs during certain seasons. So we'll see what veggies we have on hand, maybe brown some deer meat with sausage seasoning, sauté those together and then pour the eggs over them. It usually ends up more scrambled than omelet, but almost always yummy and easy.