Let me think out loud here. Last Thursday was the last time I shopped. I have been trying to become more conscious of over-shopping and over-cooking for some time, so I patted myself on the back when I saw no weekend leftovers. Then on Sunday I saw this challenge on eGullet, and I jumped in.
We’ve been managing fine with very few new purchases, all this week. I deliberately didn’t tell my husband about the challenge till today. Neither he, our daughter, or my Mom, who eats with us most days of the week, has noticed any difference in the quantity or quality of the food I serve. I’m the one who’s been racking her brains, but hey – I chose this.
Yesterday I did buy some stuff, as noted before. Let’s see: bag of carrots,2 artichokes, 2 liters of milk, a dozen eggs. Tomorrow I’ll have to add: 2 kilos of flour for bread, one kg. of turkey or a chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, more milk to get us through till Sunday. I don’t think I’ll need anything else. Very small shopping for a family of 4 (including Mom), isn’t it? Fortunately we were well stocked with detergent, toilet paper, bath soap, etc. This is because I do buy these things in bulk. I make a special trip to the discount supermarket about once every two weeks for them.
If I were to run out of any of those, I’d just go and buy it. The no-shopping challenge doesn’t require that we go without the essentials of civilized life.
This experiment is teaching me that my needs are smaller than I thought. I can buy less and feed my family very well. My cooking emphasizes fresh ingredients, bought a little at a time over the week. I can do this because I live in a small country where farms and dairies are very close to the markets. And food, relative to US prices, is not expensive. I think that to reduce my grocery bill, I don’t need to change my buying pattern, just eliminate over-stocking. I’ll try to total up the cost of my exceptional purchases in the summing-up, next Sunday.
So for today’s meals.
Husband loves his meat, so although The Little One and I prefer vegetarian/dairy, I cook poultry or meat about three times a week. There was no chicken or turkey of any kind around today, and I was feeling a little anxious. But wait! In the freezer there were several pieces of raw chicken taken off birds I’d cooked previously. Knowing that we never eat a whole big chicken in one go, I took off thighs and wings and froze them, rather than have to deal with leftovers later. Stock, I thought. But there was enough for a meal. So, although I usually make this dish with an entire chicken, I made a small Arroz Con Pollo – Latin American rice with chicken.
With the chicken pieces, I made a soup. One onion, one long carrot, one celery stalk, one dried Shiitake mushroom, two cloves of garlic, two halves of dried tomato. Dried tomato, because there are only two fresh ones left. A little salt. Left the soup simmering for about an hour while I did other things.
When the soup was ready, I infused some saffron in it, as in the rice I served with Fish In Coconut Milk.
Next step: a sofrito of onion, red bell pepper and garlic in the pot for Arroz con Pollo. Salt. Added the rice and toasted it a little. Removed the chicken from the soup, added it to the sofrito. After a few minutes, the saffron-infused soup was ready to be added. The rice in arroz con pollo should be softer than plain rice. My mother taught me to use three times as much liquid as rice for it, whereas a plain rice dish uses only two.
The finished dish…
The Little One and I eat more fish meals than Husband, so I went shopping in the freezer again. A package of salmon steaks came to hand. On the eGullet forum, a member contributed a recipe - skewered fish and chicken glazed with a Japanese sauce. It looked easy and delicious, so I copied it, using only fish. Here’s my variation.
Broiled Salmon Skewers with Quasi-Japanese Sauce
Serves 2 – can easily be doubled or tripled
2 Salmon steaks
1/2 cup sweet wine – the recipe calls for Mirin, a sweet rice wine, but I used a semi-sweet mead
1 Tblsp. soy sauce
1 Tblsp. honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. minced ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 Tblsp. sesame oil, or other oil (not olive)
First, have ready 4 skewers. If you’re using wooden ones, it helps to soak them in cold water for 10 minutes or more, to keep them from burning in the broiler.
Then, make the sauce.
1. Put the wine, soy sauce and honey into a wok or deep skillet. Light a high flame under it and start stirring. Get it to boil and then lower the flame, stirring the while. You want the liquid to reduce to about half, but not evaporate away.
2. Add the lemon juice, ginger, crushed garlic, and sesame oil. Cook another 5 minutes. Turn the flame off and let it rest.
3. Cut each salmon steak into chunks. Put the chunks into the somewhat cool sauce and let them marinate about 5 minutes. Turn the chunks over a few times to let them soak the sauce up.
4. Thread the salmon chunks onto the skewers, turning the skin side up to let it char deliciously under the grill.
5. Broil for 10 minutes, skin side up, then 5 more minutes on the other side.
6. While the salmon is broiling, go back to the sauce. Boil it down to almost a syrup. There should be only 3 or 4 tablespoons left when you’re done. Glaze the salmon with this, and save any left over to spoon onto the fish at the table.
The side dish is quinoa with mallows.