My efforts to live as a frugal Italian housewife continue anew, spurred on in part by the rather terrifying financial news yesterday. One hits plateaus with this, yes. You cook your way through some stuff, think yay, think yum, then look around your kitchen starving and longing for a nice little sweet to round out your meal and think...I HAVE NOTHING TO EAT! Only it's such a first world idea, to look at full cupboards/freezer and think this. Granted, there is nothing to eat now I don't have to Make first, and the produce supply is in dire need of replenishing, but...still.
What usually seems to clear the decks for the next round of cooking is 1) doing dishes if necessary 2) latching onto one item I want to play with and building cooking adventures around that. #1's more to the point, though. Cooking is very much about thinking you have room to do it in. And doing dishes is about putting away the clean ones so you can do more. Did I mention I'm really sick of doing dishes?
I'm starting to have Too Many Grains. The cupboard's full of rices of every kind and guinoa and bulghur and stuff (finally used up the barley) that I'm not using up as fast as things I have to flavor/cook it it with. Shall tackle from that angle shortly. Surely with enough chicken stock and grains you can conquer the world... Plus I found a bag of lentils that I suddenly want to make do different things. Plus I'm eye-ing a stache of nuts in the freezer that suddenly seem like the doors to a world of savory/sweet possibility. I have pignolis...I want very much to make a nice, not-too-sweet cake with them...maybe a cornmeal one (have cornmeal in freezer). Also almond biscotti, which turn out, like all my favorite desserts, such as wacky cake, to not require spendy dairy products to make, just eggs. Although I must say that having the little 8-oz boxes of soy milk in my fridge are a *god-send* for jumping you to that place where you have more dessert possibilities. I would never use it as a substitute for milk in a flan or something, but for recipes where you need up to a cup (the BH&G brownie pudding recipe, for instance, which otherwise is a miracle of frugality--I love any recipe that lists boiling water as an ingredient), they are genius. I also adore the Pacific Organic one-cup chicken stock measures.
Today's big hit? A variation on "scrambled hamburger," a Tamny family comfort food from my dad's youth as I understand it, that I made with a mess o' nice (defrosted) Tallgrass organic beef and a big bag of boiled, then riced potatoes I tackled before they went bad. Cooked the beef with a flavory improvised sauce, then added potatoes. Delicious sludgey comfort food. Also? Amazing crisped up as hash later in a skillet. I have even more potatoes left, which may become croquettes, potato cakes, tuna cakes or a cake, or all three, depending on my energy level before I leave for the weekend.