By Bonnie Walker
Posted on21 October 2009.
The only mandate my mate has ever made about meals served in our house is that leftovers appear once. That's it. I understand the childhood scars he bears concerning leftovers, so I'm happy to comply.
This has little to do with the photo of the owl in a tree that you see here. But there is
a tenuous connection.
Halfway through making a let's-clean-out-the-refrigerator-meal on Saturday, I heard some jays in the front yard trees raising an angry ruckus. This is always worth checking out. First, it may that a baby jay has fallen from the nest and now needs rescuing from the jaws of a cat.
Second, it could mean that there is a predator afoot. Or a-wing. I grabbed the binoculars and headed outside. It took a few moments to locate the Great Horned Owl, since he blends in so well with a tree branch. But the jays and mockingbirds were dive-bombing him, which gave me a hint. I had time to take a photo before the bird fixed me with a spooky stare, then jumped off the branch to wing away slowly with a noisy escort of jays and mockingbirds.
After this excitement, it was back to making dinner. I know this is a silly way to think, but I decided that seeing the owl was my reward for righteously using up food that was nearing its past-due date.
Here is our menu: I suggest this fridge-cleaning meal as a fun exercise for any cook — it saves money and exercises the imagination.
- Grilled steaks: Leftovers from the freezer, still in good shape. After thawing, we put a good layer of Montreal Steak Seasoning on them and cooked them outside.
- Potato and sweet potato fries. Made with one russet and one sweet potato that had been hanging around for more than a week in a basket on the counter. I also opened a bottle of grapeseed oil, an oil I'd not used before. It has a high smoke point and a light flavor. The fries tasted very good.
- Steamed cubes of butternut squash mixed with beet greens, left over from a roasted vegetable salad we made earlier in the week.
- "Melted" tomato halves, drizzled with olive oil and speckled with sea salt, baked in a slow (300 degree) oven.
- Homemade Herbed Buttermilk Parmesan Bread, from buttermilk that needed to be used right away, and a quarter-cup or so of already-grated Parmesan cheese left over from an Italian meal earlier.
- Raspberry pie. The Pillsbury crust was a month past its due date, but in pretty good shape, having been kept refrigerated. The berries were in packages in the freezer and I worried that they might be freezer burned. But, no, after rinsing off the light covering of frost and heating them in a pan with sugar, they were perfectly good. I just added a little almond extract and cinnamon.
Link to these recipes:
Herbed Buttermilk Parmesan Bread
Beet Greens and Butternut Squash