My Citizens, we are now entering the 3rd week of sheltering-in-place (a politically-correct way of describing quarantine) here at the secret lair of the Khan of Quarantine, YOUR TFD – and as part of My continuing series on how to best cook from your freezer or pantry during these dark times, I present to you My personal tips on how to EXTEND your stored food!
These are hard-won tips, many of which I learned at the knee of my respected ancestors – we have forgotten so much of how to extend and preserve our food, but our grandparents and great-grandparents (my great-grandparents passed at 95 and 93 and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to know them during my childhood – they emigrated from eastern Europe in the early 20th century). Let us join together and re-invigorate the culinary wisdom of our forebears!
Without further ado – extending your food during quarantine:
- Have fresh vegetables that are now kind of soft and droopy? Sauté them briefly in butter, dump everything into the food processor with a bit of cream, milk or chicken stock et voila – cream of vegetable soup. We actually made broccoli cheese soup using some old broccoli and carrots with this technique.
- If you have a waffle iron, shred past their prime zucchini, sweet potato, carrot, any type of squash—all of these vegetables can be shredded and cooked to crispy perfection in the waffle iron! Shred the vegetables using a box grater and squeeze as much moisture as you can from them. Stir the shredded vegetables together with salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices you prefer. Then, lightly oil or butter each side of the waffle iron and add the vegetables. Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your iron. No waste and crispy deliciousness!
- Have any scallions, celery, carrots, lettuce, pineapple, ginger, fresh turmeric or old onions hanging about? Take the root ends of scallion, lettuce, celery and put in water – they’ll sprout! Carrot tops will do the same, but you’ll only get delicious carrot greens. Pineapple tops will grow into a decorative plant, as will ginger and turmeric. Old onions will sprout into scallions and keep growing back for some time!
- Have some berries past their prime? Purée them and instant dessert sauce, or make the purée into fruit leather which lasts quite a long time!
- Garlic getting a little long in the tooth? Roast the whole heads by putting each head on a piece of foil, covering with olive oil, closing up the foil into a loose ball and baking at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until fragrant, about 45 minutes or so. Unwrap, let cool and separate into cloves. Squeeze the soft cloves into a Tupperware, refrigerate and add to anything. It is supremely delicious! The leftover oil is now garlic-flavored so save it!
- Save all meat and veg scraps and make stock – freeze it. Onion skins and peels add delicious flavor to stocks. Keep them.
- Make crunchy taco shells from tortillas with your oven rack – Drape the tortillas over your oven rack in the shape of a crunchy taco shell until crispy.
- Got old mushrooms past their prime? Mince them in the food processor with shallots or onion and maybe a bit of fresh herbs. Cook in a pan with butter and a splash of white wine or sherry until dry. You now have duxelles. Freeze and add to butter, cream or soup. Delicious!
- Old cheese ends? Chuck them into the food processor with wine, herbs, maybe some onion and you have fromage fort! Try on crackers.
- Stale bread? Dry out completely in a low oven and make bread crumbs. Or sauté in butter and make croutons!
- Store apples and potatoes together to prevent the latter from sprouting.
- Meat scraps? Cook and blend into a paste with herbs, onion a bit of brandy. Pâté!
- Leftover cooked rice in the fridge? Heat a frying pan or wok, some chopped veg and diced meat with a splash of wine or sherry – stir fry and you have proper fried rice!
- Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap and they’ll last 3-5 days longer than usual. This is useful even out of quarantine situations!
- Freeze milk if you’re afraid it will go bad.
- Wrap celery, broccoli, and lettuce in tin foil before storing in the fridge.
- Fresh parsley or cilantro? Treat them like flowers: put in a vase with water and change the water daily. They’ll last MUCH longer.
- Keep leftover avocado halves green by storing them with a cut onion to keep them from browning for one to two days. The sulfur compounds in the onion prevents oxidation.
- Easily grow your own sprouts of various kinds and get more seed mats every week – buy the kit here.
- Check with your local farmers market and see if they have weekly vegetable subscription boxes they can drop off or you can pick up. Here is the latest for San Francisco, for example.
- Get your meat delivered – I endorse Huntspoint for all BBQ-related meats, Painted Hills Natural Beef for steaks, and for everything other meat (game, duck, lamb, etc.) I endorse D’Artagnan.
- Get one of these – Bluapple Produce Freshness Saver Balls – Extend The Life of Fruits and Vegetables In The Refrigerator Or In A Fruit Bowl By Absorbing Ethylene Gas To Keep Produce Fresher Longer
- If you find yourself discarding fresh herbs because they’ve gone droopy, chop them up and put them in ice cube trays along with olive oil and freeze it.
- Use clean pantyhose to store onion and garlic by hanging them and tying a knot between the alliums – this is an old Depression-era trick useful in quarantine.
Any other tips for all of us in quarantine, please add them in the comments to share with the rest of TFD Nation!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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