Every so often, you have to simply dig in. This means hauling everything out of your fridge that has bee neglected, under utilized or is simply past its prime. Leftovers included.
Time for a Sunday Salvage.
Tnis is a habit frugal folks indulge in as often as necessary. Sometimes it is as simple as gatheting up leftovers and tossing them into a soup or stew. Other times it is more involved.
Today has been one of those ‘more involved’ efforts.
It all began when a large bag of vegetable scraps tumbled out of the freezer I was opening to pull out a protein to defrost for dinner.
Well, crap. Or scraps as it were.
The bag did not bust open, it was well sealed, but it was past time to make vegetable stock. My method is very simple: gather up all your vegetable scraps from your freezer and toss them into the slow cooker along with a couple of bay leaves, fresh herbs of your choice from the garden, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and water to cover. Let simmer eight hours. Strain and season to taste. Easily frozen into cubes for future use.
As I was doing this I noticed that diced apples and pears were had also been languishing in the freezer. I sucked it up and defrosted them to make apple muffins (see my go-to muffin recipe, the possibilities are endless muffins) and a pear cake. These both freeze easily for later transport up to my grandkids. They love baked sweets.
I then decided to face my fridge. I had two types of plums that desperately needed attention. I dug in and made six jars of plum jam and four jars of plum sauce. My partner doesn’t like the tang of apple cider vinegar in the air but it is worth the effort. I could have as easily made ten jars of jam but I know the plums are better used as a sauce than more jam. Recipe for plum sauce is below.
I decided to keep going, after all I was on a roll, so I took my wooden rolling pin and merrily (yes, merrily, I was having a good time after all) smashed up the remaining half of a loaf of very stale French bread into crouton-sized chunks. I drizzled my stems of herbal oil (recipe below) over the chunks of stale break, sprinkled with salt and pepper and threw them into the oven while the cake and muffins were baking. One of my go-to strategies is to fill the oven while doing my Sunday salvage.
Still on a roll, I grabbed the strawberries I’d also frozen and made a quick jar of strawberry coulis. Claudia the Baby, a.k.a., my nine year old granddaughter, is quite the gourmand and often asks for coulis to grace her deserts. To demystify, a coulis is nothing more than a cup of chopped berries, simmered with a half cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice. After cooling, zap the mixture in a blender and then strain through a sieve. Pretty and easy.
After all of that, it was little more than a matter of shredding the chunk of cabbage and making some coleslaw and I was done. The entire effort took less than two hours including a lunch break. Not bag for a Sunday morning.
Stem Herbal Oil
1 and 1/2 cups of herb stems (parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary, etc.)
Good olive oil to cover
Strip stems of the herbs for another use. Place stems in a sterilized jar and cover with good olive oil. Place in a cool, dark place and let steep for at. least two weeks. Strain and use.
Sunday Salvage Plum Sauce
4 cups diced plums, purred
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup diced onion, any kind
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon of powdered mustard
1 tablespoon of powdered ginger
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients into a large sauce pan and boil gently until thickened, about 45 minutes. You can leave it slightly chunky or zap it in a blender until smooth. Can according to safety directions. Best used on chicken, beef or pork. Also great on Chinese take out and Asian pancakes if I say so myself.