Monday, August 6, 2012

Groceries vs. Food

There is a problem we have sometimes around the Miser Mom home:  the shelves are full of food, but there's nothing to eat.

Julia Moskin did a great write-up about this dilemma a few weeks ago in a NYT article called "Eat your veggies", describing why many people find cooking vegetables more intimidating than cooking meat.  But my husband summarized the issue even more succinctly while I was galavanting about at the math meetings last week.  He called me from home to say K-daughter had picked up our CSA box and found inside it "food I'm sure only Mom knows how to cook."

So Sunday, when I finally got home  . . . oh, a digression here.   The airport situation was bad, lots of cancelled flights all around.  I spent one night sleeping on the floor at gate B9 of the Chicago O'Hare airport.  Given everything I've been through lately, I decided to be philosophical:  I was late, but safe and sound.  I also played a game trying to be more cheerful than any other traveller in the airport.  That's a game that's darned easy to win, unfortunately.   Airports seem to breed grumpiness.

At any rate, when I got home I followed Moskin's vegetable advice.  She says, don't just leave all that stuff in the fridge waiting for inspiration -- prepare it right away.   For those who want minimal fuss, she even recommends just chopping and baking it all at once, to make it easy to snack on later in the week.   But me, I fussed.

Beets:  wash, peel, mince.  Mix with garlic, hot sauce, oil, vinegar, salt, and chopped apples.  Leave it on the counter with a large spoon so people can steal tastes.  Five beets were gone within the hour.

Eggplant.  chop into 1/2" cubes and fry up with a generous helping of olive oil and garlic.  After it starts browning, add chopped tomatoes and salt, then parmesan cheese.  Done.  K-daughter wolfed down a bunch of this for dinner, and I packed up the rest to freeze for lunches.

Green beans:  snip off the ends (while catching up on gossip with K-daughter), blanch by boiling in hot water.  In the past I've done this and then left the beans in the fridge, only to have them disappear the next day down the bellies of supposedly-vegggie-hating-children.  But because we were heading out soon, I froze the beans after blanching them this time.

Speaking of freezing, that's also what happened to three zucchini (post-shredding; they're destined for muffins, soup, and bread) and to one melon (which shall fullfil its destiny in a fruit smoothie someday).

Potatoes and onions are stored downstairs, but not near each other (they don't play nicely together).

And then tomatoes.  Why, oh why, oh why, does a frugal person ever travel during the summer?  I came back from MathFest only to discover that my tomatoes have started ripening.  I've charged my next-door neighbor with picking them this week.  Chill them.  Freeze them.  Don't let them rot on the vine.

So my veggies are now safe and sound at home, all ready to eat.  But we left Monday morning for a family vacation.  So now the problem is there's no one home to eat them!


  1. Thanks for these tips - I'm in the process of planning my first month's freezer stash so it's quite relevant :) I definitely subscribe to the chop-ahead philosophy, even if I don't cook them right away. When I'm hungry, chopping vegetables can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to dinner.

    1. Chopping makes such a big difference, doesn't it! If we have a bowl of apples on the table, it seems like nobody touches it. If I get out a cutting board and slice "apple chips", it seems I can't cut them fast enough for the kids to gobble up.

      Good luck with planning the first month of meals!--MM