Friday, September 18, 2009

Flexibility and Creativity

I find that being flexible as well as creative in the kitchen very helpful when trying to be frugal. Sometimes those two things come into play for dinner because my brain is so fried I cannot be creative or think so Iam flexibile and serve cold cereal for dinner.

Last night I was proud of myself for being flexible and creative in a good way. It wasn't cold cereal, but rather homemade soup and fresh bread. My original menu called for Beef Stew last night, but I switched it to Chunky Chicken Soup since I had leftover over cooked chicken from the day before. I find leftovers are served best with a bit of a makeover. There was a catch though. I didn't have any of the frozen vegetables called for in the recipe.

In comes creativity and flexibility to save the day. For starters, I did have onions and garlic so I sauteed those as well as 5-6 mushrooms left from Monday's Eggplant Parmesan. So I was getting creative and now I needed to be flexible. I didn't need to cook the chicken as I already had some (also I add meat last since our exchange student is vegetarian). I didn't have the frozen vegetables, but I did have fresh ones. So instead of adding the flour first followed by the broth, I added 3/4 of the broth. Then I put in fresh green beans from my garden. I added chopped carrots and red potatoes (from the co-op this week) as well as a bunch of broccoli, chopped, not used in Wednesday's dinner. I brought the soup to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering until the vegetables were tender. In a mason jar (keep one in my kitchen for this purpose), I put in the remaining broth and flour. I shook it hard (after putting on the lid) until the mixture was well mixed with no lumps. It is so much easier that way. I poured that into the soup as well as a can of kidney beans as I had no white beans. It added some protein for our vegetarian and a nice dash of color. I spooned out enough for our student into a separate pot and then added the chicken I had de-boned and chopped to the pot for the rest of us.

The result of my creativity and flexibility? It was a delicious soup with a side of hot, deliciously sweet soda bread. I was not the only one happy with the result. I like the successes so much more than the flops. Each is a learning experience that helps me be more confident in the kitchen, and my family is used to being my guinea pigs by now.

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