I know you. You’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to waste a thing. You save your vegetable scraps for tomorrow’s omelette. You transform all the little bits of cheese in the fridge into a divine pimiento cheese. You bake over-ripe fruit into an impromptu cobbler. You’ve even been known to ask your host at a dinner party “You gonna eat that?” in reference to the roasted chicken carcass. Why? Because you can take it home and make it into chicken stock, which you can turn into soup with more leftover vegetables and bits of pot roast. In fact, look at that, you brought a container, just in case your host was giving away leftovers. You have no shame when it comes to preventing food waste and saving money.
You’re just like me! But sometimes we splurge. The other day at Trader Joe’s a jar of marinated grilled artichokes caught my eye. My mother would never have bought something so frivolous. But I wanted them and it was Trader Joe’s, so they weren’t even all that expensive. A few days later I had a friend over for a glass of wine and some snacks. A couple of those artichoke halves made their way onto the snack tray. Splurge, justified.
The next night, I roasted some fennel (on sale at Publix!) with onions and potatoes. When they were almost cooked, I added the rest of the artichokes, put a piece of salmon on top after drizzling it with some of the artichoke marinade, and roasted the whole thing for 15 more minutes. And when it came out of the oven, I stirred a couple spoonfuls of cream into the drippings to make a sauce. (I learned that from my French mother-in-law, who’s very good at cooking and not wasting things.) The meal turned out pretty well, so hooray for that. And that was the end of the artichokes. Or was it?
I hate to waste a good marinade. Or pickle juice. Last month we bought a couple jars of kosher dill pickles at Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery. (Did you miss it? Don’t make that mistake next year.) Those pickles were so good we couldn’t bear to throw away the brine. Y’all? We used it to marinate grilled chicken. I strongly suggest that you do the same. It was delightful. But let’s get back to the artichokes.
My sister came over for dinner on the night we had salmon. It’s nice to have family in town, because it means you almost always have the option of company at dinner, so your children will behave better. Anyhow, my sister likes salad. So do I! It’s very good for you, you can make it to suit your own tastes, and it’s a great way to use up leftover vegetables, berries, little bits of cheese, whatever. Go, salad!
My sister, who was raised by the same thrifty mother I was, totally got it when I added balsamic vinegar and a splash of water to the now artichoke-less jar of marinade. Voilà! Salad dressing. I gave it to her as a party favor. A lot of dinner guests would think that was tacky. I love how family just gets it, no explanation needed. I mean, who doesn’t want to leave a dinner party with free salad dressing?
My family is used to eating recycled food. And it’s even better upcycled, when scraps are more then leftovers; they’re the inspiration for a whole new dish. The Refashionista makes old clothing into new and, while my efforts might not be quite as transformative, I take old food and turn it into something different. Creativity and frugality go hand in hand, no?
What’s your favorite thing to recycle and transform?