Thursday, February 4, 2021

Scrape together the scraps for something practically delicious

While we're on the subject of reducing food waste, this article coincidentally appeared in last Wednesday's Tribune: "Waste Not: How to save money (and the planet) by putting those kitchen scraps to use."

I enjoy James P. DeWan's "Prep School" column. He reassures those of us cooking by the seat of our pants that culinary improvisation can be successful with the right foundational know-how, whether in the form of tools or techniques. He tells us why we need to learn these things. And, he's my kind of funny. 

I think my mom would have liked reading him, too. His introducing possibility after possibility -- "Or, you can do this. Or that. Or this other thing. Or even...!" -- reminds me of her creative idea-forthings.

This latest article (that I've read, not necessarily the latest he's written), speaks to my soul. It also goes hand in hand with a Netflix show I just polished off, "Best Leftovers Ever!", in which people are doing exactly what DeWan suggests: Following the method of a recipe, but swapping out the prescribed ingredients for the leftovers at hand. 

While I found "Best Leftovers Ever!" entertaining (more cornball humor!), educational (practical tips for reheating rice),  and even inspirational to be more creative with how I use leftovers, I doubt I'll find myself pulling out individual carrot chunks from a chicken pot pie or rinsing sauce off of noodles as I try to repurpose old takeout into an elegant brunch. Some of the endeavors to create something new resulted in their own unnecessary waste.

Also, in the show, competitors' dishes are judged not just on flavor and texture but on their presentation. I'm not sure DeWan cares whether something is Instagram-worthy so much as whether it's delicious -- and, in this instance, useful. 

DeWan's column offers a more practical approach to using certain kinds of leftovers and doesn't challenge you to do in just 30 minutes. I recommend you read it, but here are a few highlights:

"One way to reduce waste is simply to use up all those things that are languishing on our Frigidaire's death row." 

"Cauliflower and cholesterol soup."

"Every time you cook, ask yourself if something you're discarding couldn't be used for something else."



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