Gathering Fragments: Second Week of July

Gathering Fragments: Second Week of July

Friday:  Raided the fridge this morning and pulled out three items from this week: Cooked Sausage patties, half a pan of French Toast Breakfast Casserole and half a pan of Poor Man's Lasagna.   That was today's early meals all sorted out.  All I need do is cook our Shish Kebab and reheat rice for supper.  And plan for the small portion of sausage leftover. 

I found the bananas Bess brought me on Tuesday were more than fully ripe this morning.  No chance John was going to eat those, so I went ahead and made them into Banana Chocolate Chip muffins.   I added a tiny portion of coconut and sliced almonds that I found on the fridge freezer door.   The chocolate chips were just the amount remaining in another package.  That clears up a few more fragments.

While I was making bread, I noted that the gallon of milk was almost gone.  I checked the buttermilk jug and noted I could add the last of the milk.  I left that to sit and culture on the counter.   I had extra milk in the freezer that I took out to thaw.

Today nothing went to waste.  That's my ultimate goal.

Saturday:  Today I want to share two recipes and a salad that I made.  Each one of these recipes used up a fragment of something. I'll put an asterisk by each item that was in my fridge awaiting use.  While I was using up items to make these, honestly all three were really good and will be a part of my recipe files should I have any of these ingredients on hand in the future.  

Creamy Orange Salad

I found think I found this recipe in one of the 1950's vintage magazines, likely a Woman's Day issue, but honestly am not sure at the moment.   However, it was really good.  It was a firmer gelatin dish, no doubt would be perfect in a mold if you happen to have any of those on hand.  I wonder why I never think to pick them up in the thrift stores...Surely I could also bake cake in them?  There's a thought!  I'll have to check into that.  I'm all about multi purpose items for the kitchen.

I made the recipe in a bowl and served it as a dessert, since it's sweet enough...The serving suggestion was to serve on lettuce surrounded by chilled orange wedges which likely would be very good as well.

Both of these first recipes used up oranges I had on hand that were not being eaten, and the second one used sunflower seeds I'd bought for salad that we just never seemed to want.

Creamy Orange Salad

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup orange juice*
2 tablespoons  lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest*
1 3 ounce package orange gelatin
1 cup hot water

I mixed my gelatin with the boiling water first.  I added in the lemon and orange juices and the orange zest then left that to sit for a few moments and cool a bit more while I prepared the cream cheese.  I beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and light and then added the gelatin mixture slowly, a bit at a time.  At one stage it just looks like a curdled mess, but keep beating it.   When it's a creamy looking mixture, pour into a mold or bowl and let sit in fridge until firm.  

Orange Sunflower Quick Bread

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4cup orange juice*
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
4 teaspoons grated orange peel*
1 egg
3 cups All Purpose Flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw sunflower nuts* (mine were salted and roasted and worked wonderfully)

Heat oven to 350f.  Grease one 9 x 5 or 2 8x4 laof pans.

In large bowl, blend sugar, orange juice, buttermilk, butter, orange peel and egg.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix by hand just 25-30 strokes (in mixer just blend ingredients do NOT beat).  Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake.  9x5 pan for 55-65 minutes, 8x4 pans 35-45 minutes   Use pick test to check for doneness  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then cool on rack.

This is really good and made a nice breakfast when toasted and spread with cream cheese.

I might not buy the sunflower seeds again, since John isn't as keen as I thought he might be but I expect that walnuts of pecans would be good in this bread as would dried cranberries.  I am fond of the orange/cranberry combination.

For today's salad I combined romaine lettuce, diced pickled beets*, feta cheese*, shredded carrot, diced red cabbage*, rye bread croutons*, and hard boiled eggs in a bowl.  Even before I added the egg and croutons this was a beautiful salad. 

 I served it with Thousand Island dressing.  John suggested roast beef would be good in this salad and I agree 100%.

All of the items I show here with an asterisk beside them were items we had just portions of, odds and ends that were leftover.  We didn't like this particular Rye Bread, the  Deutsche Kuche  brand from Aldi.  I've bought this before and we didn't care for it then, but I'd forgotten and thought it would work for us.  In future I'll go to Publix and buy a bakery loaf instead.  The Aldi one just is not a great texture and didn't even crisp up/dry out enough for my preference but they worked in this salad.

Gathering Fragments has been a wonderful exercise and the boost I needed to put something different on the table rather than just the same old things.  I find that once I've gathered items, creativity either blossoms or I'm encouraged to look for recipes that contain those specific ingredients and recognize that it's a good one to attempt due to what I have.  

I hope it's encouraging all of you as well to gather up and use items you've let sit unused on your shelves or in your freezers or which you feel must be used right away.

Sunday:  It is not my intent to be solely focused on the kitchen but as always it's the one arena where I can most easily control all aspects of what occurs in that space.  So I'm hoping you all are inspired to hear what I do with my unused items and leftovers, etc.  

Today, after we'd returned home from church, I had time while dinner was being cooked to clear the fridge and fridge freezer.  

We've gotten behind on eating the homemade bread which is something that occurs now and then.  I had a half loaf in the fridge, a loaf in the freezer and a loaf made Friday that John really wanted to start to eat this week.  I knew the loaf in the fridge was about two weeks old now having spent a week in the freezer and a week in the fridge.  It tends to dry out and go crumbly at that stage.

Last week I made a big 2 quart jar of croutons.  I have a quart jar of dried bread crumbs.  What to do with all this bread plus the odds and ends of pieces left and shoved in the freezer?  I decided that feeding the chickens with parts of it was necessary.  The dogs won't eat it.  

The chickens love nothing better than a block of frozen bread they can peck at.  Even in this heat it stays frozen longer than you'd think and they don't mind eating it once it's thawed either.  So all the end pieces and the half loaf from the fridge are going off to them tomorrow.   It helps reduce the amount of feed Sam and Bess must provide them and I get the occasional dozen eggs when they are in prime laying mode, so I don't mind feeding them.  

That leaves me with a whole loaf of homemade bread that I'm pretty sure will go uneaten for the second week in the freezer.  I could cut into cubes and let them dry out a bit.  I'll freeze them and make them into a Strata or breakfast casserole in the  near future.  I may even go ahead and bake the breakfast casserole and put in the freezer to thaw and reheat.  That has worked well for me in the past.
I've got foods set aside to repurpose into meals: 2 cups cooked brown rice, 1 1/2 servings of lasagna, 2 or 3 cooked sausage patties, about 3 ounces smoked turkey luncheon meat, 5 pieces of fried chicken, 4 hot dogs, half of one of those huge tomatoes and another whole one that is ripe, asparagus that we really need to eat this week, jello, orange gelatin salad, celery sticks and baby carrots, orange segments.  We also had plenty of potato salad left from our dinner today.

This is what I'm thinking I'll use these foods to make starting with breakfasts:

I don't have enough of the smoked turkey meat to make but one sandwich.  However, I could make Baked egg cups for us both for breakfast.  I can line the muffin tins with smoked turkey meat (about half a slice per muffin tin should do it).  Toast would go with this.

I'm going to make biscuits one morning and I think we'll have some with Sausage Gravy. 

We'll have chicken legs and wings for lunch one day and likely have potato salad on the side.

Because there's just barely enough lasagna for 2, I'll make cheesy garlic bread and a salad.  That's another lunch for us.

Red Beans and Rice.  It's always a nice hearty meatless meal but not so heavy we feel over full.   I'll serve with coleslaw with  sliced ripe tomato.  The Orange Gelatin Salad would be a nice dessert since it also has a little protein and would help me balance my meal.

I think there's enough rice to divide into two meals, so I can also make a batch of Chicken Fried Rice.  This will incorporate the last fried chicken thigh.  I have plenty of vegetables to add in: cabbage, green peas, carrots, celery and frozen peppers.  I also have some various sauce packets from frozen oriental entrees that I could use on this.   I will do asparagus as a side to this.   If we haven't touched the orange wedges I'll make Ambrosia with those.

I'll keep back about four biscuits worth of dough to make Pigs in Blankets from the hot dogs.  I'll lay odds we'll have leftover coleslaw and potato salad both.  That seems substantial enough for supper one evening.

So just rough planning today that's 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 suppers.   

I also had that big half jar of applesauce today to deal with.  I never did make my snack cake last week.  Today I went ahead and froze a two cup portion of the applesauce.  I can always thaw and use later.  

 I had a half cup or so of sauce left in the jar.  I used to make an applesauce pudding years ago which was easy as anything.  I just mixed applesauce with as much milk as I needed to make the two cups and  instant vanilla pudding.   I found a handful of really spicy ginger snaps in the snack cupboard so I made up the vanilla applesauce pudding and topped with gingersnap crumbs.  That made four servings for a cooling dessert.  

Monday:  No matter what my plans might be things change.  I did make biscuits this morning and sausage gravy.  I had about 4 slices of sausage which is twice as much as I typically use to make sausage gravy for us, but I used it all.   That was a delicious breakfast!  I set aside four biscuits unbaked, to use with the hot dogs.

John requested last night something I'd planned for lunch today, so...plan B.  We had the pigs in blankets with leftover potato salad and the orange wedges.  I keep an ideas notebook running and actually scanned through one of them this afternoon while the baby was napping.  I had noted that you can make pigs in blankets and freeze them unbaked, then take out to bake....Hmmm!  Good idea and wouldn't that be lovely to have in the freezer.  I'm going to try and remember that idea.

Now to figure out my Plan B for supper tonight.

note:  Plan B ended being the Red Beans and Rice I had on the menu.  I went to the pantry to get a bag of red beans earlier today and discovered I had a Zatarain's boxed mix of red beans and rice.   I'd forgotten I had it.  It was something Katie had given to me and I'd forgotten all about it.  It was delicious!  

The box called for 3 cups of water and 1/2 pound of smoked sausage, chicken, hamburger or pork sausage.   I typically season my homemade beans and rice with a couple of chopped snack sausages but I didn't think a half pound of meat for four servings of beans and rice was too over the top.  I don't know if I'd ever have used the mix to be honest, simply because I'm not familiar with the product but since I am in the midst of this 'using the fragments' then I used the item that was just sitting there.

What a nice surprise it turned out to be!   John and I both agreed that while we still prefer my homemade, we might well get a couple of boxes of this mix and keep on hand.   It would be great on a vacation or for a night such as tonight when I came to the end of the day worn slap out and wanted something easy.

While we had a generous serving each, we both went back for seconds.  Had I made the sides I'd planned to make with this meal we likely wouldn't have done so.  We had the orange gelatin salad as our only side. 

Thursday:  We've been using up the items from my list.  I ate the leftover lasagna for lunch yesterday along with a peach.  This prompted me to note that the peaches had gotten ripe and were not going to be eaten before they were over ripe.   So this morning I made a peach cobbler from them.  

I made taco meat yesterday for supper but we certainly didn't need to eat a pound of taco meat.  I divided this in half and mixed taco meat with some of the leftover rice and filled six tortillas with that and cheese.  I've frozen these to use later.   

The rest of the rice will be today's Chicken Fried Rice.
Of what is left in the fridge: jello and pudding cups made on Monday.  Now to set up a plan for meals over the next three days.

How did you gather fragments this week?   Was anything you made particularly good?  Please share!  We could all use new ideas for using up our odds and ends.

(C) Terri Cheney
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