Friday, October 26, 2007

Cleaning out my Closet *

Okay... part of the pantry and fridge, I'm not feeling brave enough to face the actual closets today. But, as I'm heading out of town tomorrow and will not be home until Sunday afternoon (leaving the Prime Geek to fend for himself until I return) I thought I would be a kind and caring wife and make something he can snack on until I return. He's perfectly capable of caring for himself, but there are things that need used up, and somehow men seem to lack the gene required to recognize the difference between “Needs Used” and “Able to Vote, and Looking to Expand it's Borders”. So, a rummage through the odds and ends of what we have, and a soup pan on the stove with enough to keep body and soul together until I return. As I've had a few requests for recipes from these rummages, I'll give this one a shot and see if anyone else likes my quickie potato soup.

The first item that needs used up is simple. I have two open boxes of potato flakes, and only one pouch in each. They could just be consolidated into one box... but that would still leave dinner in question. Now, food purists carrying the banner of fresh is best might be horrified to know that I keep such evil items in my cupboards. And, while we ARE trying to eat closer to the earth and eliminate many overly processed foods from our diets... potato flakes are always gonna be a cupboard staple in this house. Used to thicken stews, tossed into baked goods, and last ditch efforts to ratchet down overzealous spice endeavors, they are a great item to keep close at hand.

While I am enough of a good Irish lass to appreciate a solid spud, and I know the value of a good tater when it's baked, roasted, fried, or simmered in a stew.... instant works better in some applications. And, to be honest, there seems to have been several crappy harvests in the last few years. If my options are green and soft potatoes or a box of the instant.... I'll use the instant every time. (Hey, cheap, decent flavor, and shelf stable almost as long as plutonium... what's not to love in a pantry pal?)

Start the potatoes as the box requires (dumping in a gratuitous amount of garlic powder, black pepper, and a bit of cayenne to give it some heat.... leave it to come to a boil and rummage the fridge for the rest of the soup.

A quick shuffle through the shelves turns up an almost empty milk carton, just a few glugs left to pour into the soup... a carton of chicken stock from last nights dinner, there's almost 3 cups of that left. Odds and ends of several cheeses – a handful of mozzarella, an end of some fresh Parmesan from our trip to Amish country, a wedge of Velveeta lurking in the back in its foil wrapped shroud.

Alright. Yes. I have Velveeta in my refrigerator. Don't judge me. I can see that container of Rocky Road you're trying to hide. AND the jar of pickles that's been in yours since last November.

Yet again, no real recipe here folks. Just use mashed potatoes, instant or last night leftovers, thin it out with milk and broth (or water and veggie juice if you must) toss in whatever cheese you have and season to your families preferences. Shots of hot sauce and Worcestershire are at your discretion. If you get ambitious, try adding some cooked leftover chicken, and/or last nights cooked veggies. Its a quick and simple meal that can be reheated over and over again (just add a touch of milk or broth to thin it out each time) AND if it congeals completely by the end, pat it into thick pancakes, dredge it in a few more potato flakes and some seasoning and pan fry in a little butter.

Isn't recycling tasty?

*Great. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to get an Eminem song stuck your head when you're a 28 year old housewife?

1 comment:

kethry said...

yes. because it periodically gets stuck in mine too. and i'm 35, so its worse.

we don't seem to have potato flakes in the UK. we do have reconstituted potato, something called "smash". is that it? i tend to use cornflour (i think you call it cornstarch) for thickening stews n casseroles and things like that, in a hurry, or i plan ahead and actually cook the potato in. There's a dish called "scouse" that does it that way: cubes of beef, seared in hot oil, beef stock cubes crumbled over, some hot water ontop and simmered for about an hour. After that, a potato cut into very small cubes is dumped in.. simmered for another hour (the idea being that these cubes fall apart and provide the thickening). after that, veg like more potatos, onions, carrots etc. are dumped in, with more water, and cooked for half an hour to an hour till they're done. serve with tons of bread. great winter warming casserole.

then there's minestrone stew.. but i won't clutter up your blog.. lol.

enjoy your time away!