Eating Down the Fridge: OPP Edition

Several times in the past few months, our family has experienced an interesting phenomenon.  I think I shall call it pre-dumpster diving.  What has happened is that friends of ours, in one case on very short notice, have moved across the country or across the world, and have left the contents of their refrigerators and/or pantries with us.  Even though our kitchen is short on space to begin with, I was powerless to resist these “gifts” given my love of free stuff, especially free food.  The things we received fell into three basic categories: food we buy ourselves anyway (butter, mustard, produce), things that I would buy if I had the space and money (see above) and things that I would likely never buy, but now feel the obligation to do something with.

One outstanding item in the third category is a large bag of oat bran.  Until today, it dwelt in the vegetable drawer of the fridge (lack of space, I tell you), eying me in a lonely manner each time I reached past it to grab the mushrooms/peppers/lettuce.  I had considered making bran muffins, but then I would have to eat bran muffins or give them to someone else who would then have to eat them, and this seemed unfair.

Fortunately, I had been tossing around the idea of making some sort of homemade protein bar, mainly because one of the awesome side effects of pregnancy is waking up at 4 am and feeling like your stomach is consuming itself.  Going all the way downstairs to make a PB and J was getting old.

Enter the peanut butter balls.  Protein packed, no-bake, and sweet enough to hide half a cup of oat bran per batch.  Take that, bag of oat bran.  10 more batches or so, and you and I will officially be over.

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

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Taking EDF to the Next Level

As you may have noticed from my various posts on the subject, I am in a constant state of eating down the fridge and/or cabinets.  One key to doing this successfully, I have found, is to keep a few interesting ingredients on hand, lest eating down the fridge become an exercise in tedium.  The ideal add-ins are shelf-stable, or at least will stay good in the fridge for six months or so.  A well-stocked spice rack is a good first step.  I am realizing, though, that there is a whole other category of these add-ins, a top shelf, if you will.  A jar of  capers or sundried tomatoes in oil, for example.

One way I have identified some of these premio foods-to-have-on-hand is by checking out some favorite food blogs and cookbooks and noting things that seem to pop up again and again.  The latest addition to the fridge door is  white miso paste, purchased at Korean Korner.  My new go-to food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches, features it often, in everything from tofu glaze to coleslaw.

Also, once you have miso paste, making miso soup is about as hard as boiling water.

Easy Miso Soup

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Eating Down the Fridge: Egg Foo Young

Lately, when it comes to reconstituting my leftovers into dinner, it seems that there has been an “Asian-inspired” theme.  (I say “Asian-inspired” so that I can sidestep any claims about the dishes’ authenticity.  I made it from stuff I found in the fridge.  I know it is not authentic.)  Whether it’s a weekly dose of fried rice or a bowlful of curry, I have definitely been getting the Far East vibe when I open my refrigerator door.

The other day, as I contemplated dinner, I spied a half-empty bag of bean sprouts in the vegetable drawer.  I knew at that moment that I had received my mission.  Here’s why:  Once every few months, I go to my favorite cheap, exotic produce shop, LA Mart in Silver Spring.  I marvel at how inexpensive everything is, fill my cart with vegetables, and spend less than $30.  Without fail, a bag of bean sprouts materializes in my cart.  I take it home, use half the bag that night, and forget about the rest until I find the sad little sprouts, brown and slimy, in the bottom drawer a week later.  But no!  This time, I have seen them in time.  I would not let them go to waste.

I like bean sprouts a lot.  My husband is a bit more iffy.  Thus, I needed to use lots of them without serving something that appeared, despite whatever delicious dressing I concocted, to be just a bowl of bean sprouts.  Enter egg foo young.  A childhood favorite of mine, it is the perfect EDF dish because once you have bean sprouts and eggs, the rest is quite flexible.

Egg Foo Young

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Eating Down the Fridge: Condiment Club

I am about to make a confession that I am pretty sure makes me un-American:  I don’t like really like condiments.  Specifically, I am not a fan of ketchup or mayonnaise.  Yep.  Just exile me now.  So, if you are reading this post looking for ways to use that four-year-old bottle of mustard lurking in the fridge door, I’m sorry. I have nothing for you today.

Here’s the thing, though.  I think that mayo, ketchup, Miracle Whip, and especially green ketchup give condiments a bad name.  After all, a quick search at reveals that a condiment is “something used to give special flavor to food.”  Okay, that I can get behind.

Here at my house, we are 90% vegetarian.  Also, we are very cheap frugal.  Often, particularly toward the end of the month, we eat a lot of beans and rice/tortillas/polenta/etc… That’s all nice and nutritious, but it can get a little…well, tedious.  Enter my favorite condiment: homemade coleslaw.  Contracy to popular belief, it can be made from all kinds of vegetables; not just cabbage. Throw some atop a big ol’ pile of rice and beans (or a baked bean sandwich, pictured above), and voila: instant dinner elevation.  It’s the perfect EDtF recipe, because the permutations are endless.

“Recipe” for homemade coleslaw:

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