The Mind of Bluesleepy

Someone’s sneaking round the corner 8 April 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 10:17 pm

My mission lately is to try to cook out of what’s already in my pantry and fridge.  I’m tired of running to the commissary every other second, and have a pantry stuffed to the gills but having “nothing” to make for dinner.

Instead of looking for recipes which I then have to acquire ingredients for, I am looking for recipes that use what I already have.  I am making some allowances, however.  Today we went to the commissary for one green pepper and one carton of sour cream.  Of course, we came out with far more than that, but at least it was only $38.  We got a fair amount for that little too.  Kurt informed me that we were out of fruit, lunch meat, and cheese, and he’s always wanted to try granola in some yogurt, so that was more things that we needed.  But we bought the cheapest granola and the big tub of vanilla yogurt, which is always more cost-effective than buying the little tubs.  Not as delicious, that’s true, but sometimes deliciousness doesn’t always win out.

Last night’s dinner was mapo tofu, which is ground pork and tofu in a spicy sauce.  Kurt had bought some ground pork a couple weeks ago to use in a rice soup recipe I found in a Thai cookbook, and then I managed to use up more of that ground pork in some jerked pork burgers that were absolutely divine.  I had just enough left for the mapo tofu, and I had almost everything else on hand.  And what I didn’t have, I improvised.  This meant I used Korean hot pepper paste instead of Chinese hot bean paste.  And for someone as OCD as I am, this is huge.

I am not one to substitute.  I am not one to fake something.  I am a rule-follower, and that includes cooking.  This is why my first attempt at homemade breadsticks came out so badly.  The recipe called for 1¼ cups of milk, so 1¼ cups of milk is what I used.  There wasn’t nearly enough liquid, and the breadsticks were heavy and dense.  Then I started using my KitchenAid to mix the dough, and I also added a little bit more liquid until I had what felt like a good consistency to the dough to me.  Every time I bent the rules and used more liquid, I had better results.

So I am learning.  Slowly, though.

But the mapo tofu came out well, Korean hot pepper paste notwithstanding.  I think it needed a lot more spice, but Grace was eating it as well, so I had to err on the side of caution.  Next time I’m going to up the amount of gochujang to see if it turns out more deliciously.

Tonight’s dinner ran along the same lines  — use up what you already have.  I made roast lemon chicken on Monday, so I had a whole breast left over.  What to do with it?  Easy.  Chicken tacos.  That’s why I needed the green pepper and the sour cream.  And of course cilantro was necessary.  How do you have tacos without cilantro??

Did you know there is an entire Facebook group devoted to people who hate the flavor of cilantro?  We’re not talking a casual distaste of the herb; we’re talking full-on loathing with a white-hot passion.  I used to think cilantro tasted funny (what you Brits call “coriander,” in case you were wondering; “coriander” here in the States is the seed that’s ground and sold in jars), but then I realized it’s what makes fresh salsa at Mexican restaurants taste so deliciously.  Then I started buying it to use in my own kitchen, and now I’m more likely to use cilantro than parsley.  Though now the commissary sells flat-leaf parsley, where before they would sell only curly-leaf which has no flavor (and hence the reason I would turn to cilantro in the first place), so now I might switch between the two more often.  Fresh flat-leaf parsley is good!  Especially with butter and potatoes.  Nom.

Tomorrow’s dinner will be salmon cakes.  I made them for the first time a few weeks ago, and Kurt loved them.  I know he loves the garlic aioli that goes with them.  How could you not??  Fresh garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.  That’s it.  It’s very strongly flavored, but it’s truly yummy.  Of course, you have to make sure everyone around you eats the aioli so that no one notices your garlic breath, but that’s a small price to pay.

Salmon cakes are cheap to make too.  A large can of salmon goes for $1.25 or so at the commissary and makes eight small cakes, and we each get two.  Well, Kurt gets three because he’s a big manly man.  But I can’t decide what else to make with it.  Veggies, of course, but potatoes?  Mashed, roasted, parsley potatoes?  Or rice?  Or even couscous??  I can’t decide.  What goes with salmon cakes?

I can’t be expected to make all the decisions, all the time!


13 Responses to “Someone’s sneaking round the corner”

  1. beanie Says:

    You should try fresh herbs… a lot of places are selling the plants now!

  2. Rosie Says:

    I should join that group at Facebook! I am one of the people who can imagine tacos without cilantro very nicely indeed! You know, they NEVER served it in Mexican restaurants until the late 70’s, then it showed up everywhere! It just plain old tastes nasty to me.

  3. cardiogirl Says:

    Hey what’s the concept behind tofu? Is it sort of tasteless protein that you can make into quasi meat? And is it good and is it worth it?

    What’s the texture like? This should be an email, but I’m lazy. Thanks for dealing with me 🙂

  4. purple chai Says:

    Cilantro smells and tastes like feet. There, I said it.

  5. art Says:

    i love salmon cakes! with cheese!!! and cilantro is swell, and youre right, it what makes the salsa!!

  6. Poolie Says:

    Cilantro is the food of the gods!

  7. terri t. Says:

    I am totally out of my element here. I think garlic potatoes might be good with salmon cakes….but what do I know?

    I am going to attempt to make pulled pork Saturday…I will probably be eating it for weeks since I doubt my husband will want any….

  8. michele Says:

    why not do potatoes & veggies? parsley potatoes are always a winner in my book!

  9. mz. em Says:

    I think you are doing great just cooking. Things happen to me when I go in the kitchen. I’m relegated to Chief Bottle Washer. For a funny, one time I needed parsley and I didn’t have any so I used chopped mint to put in my scrambled eggs. Guess what? That man of mine hated it. He’s never let me forget it either.

  10. Cosmic Says:

    I think a nice olive oil and herb pasta would make it complete.

  11. Cosmic Says:

    LOL @ mz em!!

  12. karmacat Says:

    Check out You enter whatever ingredients you have, and it provides recipes. Even if you don’t use the recipes, it may give you some ideas.

  13. Elle Says:

    One spring, my mother, avid gardenkeeper that she is, decided to grow cilantro. About halfway thru the herb’s intended lifespan, it got torn out and discarded. She said she kept smelling something like the neighbor’s cats had used a plot in the garden as a litter box. She discovered it was just the cilantro. No more cilantro growing in the yard!

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