unplugged kitchen

I read in Viana LaPlace’s cookbook Unplugged Kitchen: A Return to the Simple, Authentic Joys of Cooking, that she cleaned out her fridge, including cheese rinds and crusts of bread, and made yummy soup with the week’s leftovers. My grandmother would save every morsel of leftover meals in big to teeny tiny Tupperware containers and create her next meal with those ingredients in mind. Not sure I can go to these great lengths, but I intend to waste less food. The crock pot is my solution. Here is this week’s fridge clear-out plus a few odds and ends and a hope and a prayer I haven’t tossed in anything that might “kill” us!

Found ingredients from fridge, freezer, garden, cupboard:

2 beef ribs from dinner at Lil Abners restaurant, Tucson, AZ

1 organic rotisserie chicken carcass from Whole Foods, skin removed

2  bottles Belgian white ale

2 frozen whole tomatoes  (from this summer–stored whole in Ziploc)

About 2 handfuls of organic baby carrots

1/3 of a yellow onion, chopped

1/3 sad red and wrinkled pepper

6 small cloves of garlic

2 bits of tired dry bay leaves

Handful of fresh mint cut from Trader Joe’s herb garden growing outside—I find mint helps everything taste fresh

Celtic sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Britta water to fill, two fingers from the top of the crock pot

Cook on high for one hour, then lower to low setting—I find this intensifies the flavor

Pick any meat off bones, discard bones and toss meat back into pot.

(If I have leftover rice, grains, pasta, beans, I add now. If at any point broth seems too thin or watery, I toss in an organic bouillon cube.)

My crock pot rules:

1.  I never use a recipe, and if I do follow one loosely, I’ll get creative with it.

2. Make sure to fill the crock pot with liquid and ingredients approx 2 fingers from the top (no more or it will overflow once heated) and check to make sure you have enough liquid!

3.  Experiment with seasonings:  I find that the slow cooking “absorbs” the flavors so I need to add more—salt especially.  Easy on the pepper though! For some reason, black pepper intensifies.

4.   Wilted and tired veggies, cheaper cuts of meat do really well in the crock pot.

5.  When adding doggie bag leftovers or any leftovers, unless I want the flavorings, I usually wash the previous seasonings off and start “fresh.”

Jen Smith is a stylist, art director, and a writer, who lives in NYC with her son Fisher.


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