April 15, 2013

Using What I Have

During the past few days, Denver has seen a range of weather and temperatures.



And while the promised snow has alluded us, the wind and the chill have not.  I realize that it's not exactly summer, but we are a third of the way into spring, and I'm ready for the warmth.  On a consistent basis.

Winter and its weather are difficult for me because I sometimes have to make myself go outside and run errands. My home is so comfortable and warm!  When spring comes along, I have a sudden burst of energy and the idea of being out in the fresh air is actually enticing again!  So as the days grow longer and the sun is out, I have been preparing the garden and going for walks on my lunch breaks and sometime last week I even happily ran an errand to pick up grass seed.  But then it immediately became cold and windy and I've neglected to make it to the grocery store.

Which brings me to the actual point of my post today.  Finally!  Instead of going grocery shopping, I've taken stock of my pantry and have put together some pretty good food!

Salad: Use the rest of a bunch of greens, even peppery or bitter ones, by chopping them finely.  Add a bit of cheese or avocado, nuts, and dried fruit.  Mix oil and acid (lemon juice or vinegar) in a one-to-one ratio in a jar, add a dollop of mustard, a pinch of salt, and a grinding of pepper.  Replace the lid and shake.  Voila!  Best easy vinaigrette ever!

Sandwich: Don't underestimate the grilled cheese!  Add extras like mustard, pickles, greens, or griddled onions and you have a little bit of magic.

Pasta: Okay, I'm lucky because I have a ready supply of tomatoes and my go-to butter tomato sauce.  But if you're tired of tomatoes, consider cream cheese!  Really!  Sautee a little garlic in olive oil in a small pan while your pasta is cooking.  If you have some sun dried tomatoes or even frozen snap peas, add them into the pasta for the last minute of cooking.  Drain everything, saving some pasta cooking water.  Put the drained pasta back in the pot, toss in a chunk of cream cheese and the garlic saute, and stir to coat over med-low heat.  Add pasta water until you have the consistency you like.  Top with walnuts (and chives if your garden is crazy with them).

Bananas: I never throw away a banana.  Once they pass the limit on the brown-to-yellow ratio, I toss them in the freezer.  While I haven't made the banana "ice cream" everyone's talking about, I grew up on a very simple milkshake.  Pour hot water over one frozen banana until you can peel it easily.  Then throw away (compost!) that peel immediately because it will be gross.  Break the banana into a couple pieces and put it in a blender with about a cup of milk and a few drops of vanilla extract.  Blend until smooth.  It won't be ultra-thick like a smoothie, but it will be frothy, cold, and a perfect balance of flavors. I just love it.

Eggs: I don't need to tell you what to do with eggs.  I just don't want you to forget about them.

Drop Biscuits: I seriously have an easy recipe that you can put together before the oven warms up...but no pictures.  This will be Thursday's post!  Well, assuming I make it to the grocery store for milk.




In the meantime, I'm sending springtime wishes out into the universe.  I hope you will join me in doing so.

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