yes, sometimes it feels like the twilight zone, but mostly it’s a good flow.
our computer has crashed once again, after limping along for a while, so i am on borrowed time on a borrowed computer 🙂 i am surrounded by many dozen peanut butter cookies (the result of thinking that i had some extra time today, so why not???) and looking out the window at our asian pear tree in full flower. i would love to post photos for you, so i hope we will get our computer situation sorted out before the flowers go away…
over the last few days, as i have been cooking,i realized that my methods have shifted a lot since we came from detroit. even though the area we came from was much more economically depressed, people in seattle are much more conscientious about using their resources carefully, and that has really impacted the way i cook and bake.
in detroit i would clean out the fridge every thursday night. whatever could be composted was, and if there was anything dog-worthy then the dogs got treats. the rest of the week’s leftovers went in the trash and we started over again.
because i used leftovers for lunches during the week, and because i planned menus based on what i had on hand, i thought i was doing pretty great.
and then we came to seattle.
and i find myself using the gravy from a roast as the base for a soup. those random little shreddy bits of meat from the bottom of the pan that usually would have ended up in the dogs’ bowls now forms the backbone of an amazing yummy soup that practically makes itself in the crockpot. and if i have some little odds and ends of vegetables that i want to use up, that’s even better, because into the soup they go! the new trick i learned to make this a grand success? freeze the whole mess for a few weeks (before you turn it into the soup) so that i am not serving the soup just after i’ve served the roast. that way everyone isn’t “meated out” and it’s a really nice supper that we wouldn’t normally have.
the impetus for this week’s cheesecake was this: we bought some cream cheese from a specialty store. it was supposed to be whipped light yummy stuff. but at some point, unbeknownst to us, the cheeses had been frozen, so instead they were crumbly and icky and not nice at all. it tasted fine, but the texture was all off and you kind of had to smash little bits of it onto your bread to get it to stick. not fun, and not the big treat i’d imagined.i won’t go into the particulars, but we couldn’t return them, and i had 6 of them. back in detroit i probably would have written it off as a loss and let each dog have one container a week until they were gone. but here i looked around and found some cookies that i wanted to use up too. so i crashed them up in my food processor with some butter and put that across the bottom of a pan to make a crust. then i beat up the failed cream cheeses with some eggs and sugar and vanilla and- voila!- cheesecake!
some dying celery and carrots got sautéed with onions and garlic and mixed with bread crumbs and seasoning and became a yummy stuffing for turkey. in detroit they would have fed the compost pile.
what’s neat to me is that, in addition to the menu planning and the lunches and whatever, i find myself cooking and baking like this all the time now. most meals involve some sort of incorporation of bits of other meals.
it’s not like we never waste food, and we do end up with plenty of things that get thrown to the chickens, but the whole mentality of “re-purposing” things here is oddly liberating.
and there’s another thing people do here that is different and cool: they manage.
if there’s something they don’t have, they work around it. in detroit, at least among the people i knew, if you didn’t have something then you borrowed it or you went out and bought it. out of mayo? go next door and get a cupful. out of dryer sheets? run over to the store…
here people just seem to have a better perspective on what is really necessary. no mayo? use olive oil. no dryer sheets? just skip it and see what happens… maybe it’s part west coast-ness that makes them more able to just go with the flow, and there’s definitely a component of lefty environmentalism at work in keeping things out of landfills and trying to be creative about getting the most use out of things. but put together like this, it’s a formula that works. it makes you think outside of the box. before we buy something new, we really do ask ourselves if we can re-purpose something we already have, or if we could use something that people give away for free.
and it’s more than just a money thing. it’s a way of using resources that allows everyone to benefit. i thought when we first moved here that it would really stress me out to be in a place where people were so…so…i dunno…doing without??? that’s an odd way to put it, because the community we came from was certainly poorer than the one we moved to.
but, to the contrary, i’m having lots of fun with it.
*h thinks i’m a bit nutty at times, but he is mostly a good sport. i want him to pick up some wood pallets to use as a fence in the backyard to create more garden space that will be off-limits to the dogs. he thinks it’s pretty odd to not just walk into home depot and order what you want, but he is all about saving money, and when he gets compliments on things his wacky wife does, it makes him really happy 😉
so, i guess you could say we are crossing over. we are making that mental shift from detroiters to seattle-ites. sometimes i still feel like a stranger in a strange land, but i just may be starting to become bilingual.
and now i have to go figure out what to do with all of these cookies…
have a great weekend 🙂