Friday, 7 January 2011

Use It Up

By Bel
from Spiral Garden

I menu plan every week, without fail. When writing my plan I always consider what's in the garden, the fridge, the freezer, the pantry and try to use what we have at hand first. But some weeks we just seem to have accumulated a lot of excess food. For those weeks, I plan what I call a Use It Up week. More than ever I plan the meals around the leftovers, the produce gluts and the tired things in the freezer and pantry, which really need to be eaten soon!

On Use It Up weeks I try not to buy groceries at all. We are blessed with some homegrown fruit and veg, and fresh milk from our house cow. I always have bulk flour to make bread, and other pantry staples are stored in bulk too (like rice and lentils).

Use It Up weeks occasionally run into a couple of weeks and not only do they encourage inventive recipes, very local eating habits and a good clean out of my kitchen, but they save us hundreds of dollars on groceries for our family of eight. I normally use this money saved for a bulk shop to replenish the stockpile of anything which is low.

These past two weeks were Use It Up weeks. We had a lot of family staying for Christmas, and they left behind bits and pieces of food to be used up. First we tackled the fresh food because we didn't want it to spoil, and then we moved on to the more obscure ingredients. But we ate so well!

Some of the meals we enjoyed were crustless quiches, pasta sauces and curries (with all sorts of vegetables hidden inside), jacket potatoes, salads and all sorts of 'peasant food'!

The crustless quiche has to be my favourite as we almost always have an abundance of eggs from our chickens. This week I made three shallow quiches one night when we had nine to feed in the evening, and some slices were enjoyed cold for lunches the next day.

One contained defrosted shredded ham, mozzarella and some herbs. Not many of us eat ham, but our visitor and those who do, thought it was delicious! The second one contained some very finely chopped mushrooms, cubed various cheeses and more fresh herbs - it was my favourite! And the third was a basic mixed vegetable quiche, with some mozzarella and herbs for flavour.

To make these crustless quiches, I rub pie dishes with butter and pour in the vegetables etc mixed together with herbs and cheese if I'm using it. Then I whisk together a lot of eggs (about 5 per pie), some yoghurt or cream, some stock powder or paste, any herbs or spices not yet added, a dash of milk, some plain flour (I use wheat or spelt, wholemeal or unbleached) and a pinch of baking powder. This mixture is only slightly more runny than pancake batter. I pour it over the vegetables etc waiting in the dishes, and top with sliced tomato if I have some.

The quiches are baked at 180 degrees C for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and firm throughout. How long they take depends on the size and depth of your pie plate. I prefer shallow, small plates so they cook faster and I can make more than one variety at a time.

We serve the quiche slices with a big green salad and homemade dressing.

Do you have a favourite Use It Up recipe? If so, please share!


Heather @ Significantly Simple said...

My favorite use it up recipe was Mexican Quiche which I made out of desperation before grocery day. It was delicious!

denimflyz said...

I make a dish out of leftover veggies, and make a white sauce or cream sauce and bake as a cassarole with homemade rustic bread, or bake it and spoon over rice, or noodles of some type. It is very forgiving and you can mix or match what ever your little heart desires.
Love the blog, as I love all of the contributions from everyone.

emilysincerely said...

I love making crustless quiche, it is a perfect dish to use up little bits of this and that that are left over. You recipes is a little different from the one I use, and I will give it a try. This is what I use to remember mine 6-1-2 (it is the area code in Minnesota where I grew up). 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, 2 cups cheese. Then add meat, veg, spices. 180C/350F 35 min +/-.

Another way I use up left overs is by making quesadilla's or homemade pizza. Right now we are eating out of the freezer. What ever I can find in there that needs to be used up. Emily

martine said...

sounds delicious, I am always put off doing quiche because I am so rubbish at pastry and it feels like that part takes so long, you have a pretty instant meal there.
thanks for sharing

Tiffany Jewelry said...

i just can make some ordinary dishes.and thay are not delicious too. a little shame.

linda said...

I have alot of "use it up" recipes for things that can go bad... minestrone soup is the favorite...I put some veggie leftovers on sandwiches for the kids school lunches or as a side dish in bentos.
Soups, casseroles, omelets, quiche, veggie lasagna or stew and shepherds pie are the other ideas.

Mrs. Santos said...

Thank you so much for this. I usually avoid making quiche because of the crust. This sounds great!

My standard use-it-up is usually soup. I turn everything into soup. Our favorite is when we have leftover meatballs. I usually make a couple trays of them and then freeze them and toss them into this or that. When we have leftover meatballs/mashed potatoes I just dump it all into a big pot (gravy drippings and all). Cover with vegetable broth and season with various herbs. Stir as it heats to smooth it out and add some frozen corn (or fresh veggies) toward the end.

You can do the same with leftover spaghetti and meatballs (don't forget the sauce) Serve with shredded parmesan and crusty bread...a very yummy soup.

Bel said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas everyone, and the kind words too. It's great to read comments after posting. We're having one more Use It Up week this week - three in a row, it must be a record!

Joanne said...

Use-It-Up Week. I love it! I need it. I still throw out way too much food in a week.
I've never menu-planned but perhaps I should give it some more serious thought.

Bel said...

Joanne, I hardly ever throw out food (and when I do, it's to the chooks), and I think menu planning is the reason for that. Best of luck with trying a menu, I hope you like it!

Joe said...

My neighbors (and now we) call this "living off the hump" (you know, like a camel). Our go-to off-the-hump recipe is pot pie - whatever leftover meat and veggies in a pie shell.