Waste Not, Want Not

January 20, 2011

I have been trying harder not to squander my disposable possessions since the infamous aluminum foil incident of New Year’s Eve. This morning I cut my remaining cotton rounds in half so that I can continue to use them into February (while I hunt down a reusable “soft pad” for applying my witch hazel, per the bottle’s instructions). Also, Channing and I have wordlessly agreed to take out the garbage every other week to extend our supply of trash bags (which, for the record, he considers a necessity).

I find, though, that I have been most concerned with not wasting the one item I can buy: food.

I generally plan meals around the previous week’s leftover ingredients, but between feeding my marathon habit and an addiction to smitten kitchen, my frugality flew right out the window over the last six months of 2010.

This year, I’m back on track, making good use of the surplus in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. I decided to hold off on buying another bottle of olive oil to force myself to make a dent in the eight other kinds of fat in the house: salted and unsalted butter, plus flax, toasted sesame, peanut, white truffle, grapeseed, and coconut oils. I threw leftover sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and cashews into an impromptu wild rice salad, and I pulled cooked red kidney beans, garbanzos, and shelled edamame out of the freezer for a bean salad. I used a combination of olive and flax oils in both dressings. The rest of the mushrooms and some leftover arugula went into omelets, which I served with cheesy garlic bread (to prevent eventual waste of a fresh French loaf and some farmer’s market Gouda).

What really needed some attention, though, was the freezer, which has been bursting at the seams with the loot from December’s Polyface buying club drop (the last delivery before the farm’s three-month winter hiatus). Among the items I’m currently storing for winter meat nights are one eleven-pound turkey, two beef roasts, an eight-ounce filet mignon, pork chops, a pound of bacon, two or three chicken carcasses (for stock)—and ten pounds of cow bones. Not one pound. Not two pounds. Ten pounds. It’s like I have an entire cow skeleton—ball-and-socket joints included—in the freezer.

Needless to say, I had to make beef stock, and on Monday I used one of three bags of bones to do just that. On Tuesday I used most of the stock to make Julia Child’s onion soup recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (The rest will go in the freezer until I come up with another use for it. Any suggestions?) I don’t think I’ve ever in my life eaten an entire serving of French onion soup before Tuesday. Limp onions floating in a bowl of broth has never really appealed to me, notwithstanding the promise of a saturated crouton and cheese. Happily for me, dinner turned out to be delicious and did not make me smell like onion for days on end (as was the case with this tasty number), so of course, in the spirit of wasting nothing, we are having leftovers tonight.

p.s. Saw an article in the New York Times this morning about the environmental and health hazards of fireplaces. Channing has now decided to convert ours into “a very large candelabra.”

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4 Responses to “Waste Not, Want Not”

  1. Sarah Says:

    You buy stuff from Polyface? So cool! Joel Salatin is speaking in Madison next month. I’m thinking of getting a babysitter so I can go. Also, bummer about the fireplace.

    • jlk Says:

      It’s definitely worth getting a babysitter to hear Joel speak. He’s crazy! Melissa (who is also not buying anything) and I toured Polyface in October. It is so different from the other farms in the area. You should plan a pilgrimage out this way to see it.

  2. Jill Says:

    Nourishing Traditions has tons of recipes that use stock. I particularly like the sauces like the peanut sauce and curry sauce. I also have a freezer full of bones and fatback that I get for free when I get the monthly pick up from the meat CSA.

  3. Leigh Says:

    How about a soup with sunchokes, Julie? I’m finding that when I cannot get pastured, soy-free chicken for stock-making, I just sub beef stock. It works in lot of soups that call for chicken.
    Also, I’m hoping someday to have a super-efficient masonry heater, the whole point being a large surface area to radiate the heat and minimal use of wood, much less than for other types of stoves, I hear. Electric stoves? Um, where does the electricity come from? No free onion soup, folks.


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