There are a number of ninja moves one can pull off in the kitchen, but the kind that make me happiest involve innovative re-purposing. Hang on a second while I run this thread through my neighbors’ trash. My house pets–the ones that are supposed to live in the house, the canines, not the invading chicken–are so devoted to my well-being that they rarely miss an opportunity to provide creative distraction from my cares and woes. Just as recently as last week, when I had already driven to the dentist myself, 90 minutes there and back RIGHT PAST THE VET, they said to themselves, “more–she needs more soothing driving time,” and valiantly rammed their faces into the business section of the nearest porcupine. And as a measure of their commitment to my well-being, this was not the first and not even the second but the THIRD time (oh, the devotion! the care!) that they have sacrificed their own comfort by having dozens of porcupine quills run through their lips, nostrils and tongues. I must lay my burden down on these occasions, and drive with two frantic, drooling, whimpering numbskulls who are desperate to climb into my lap in their mindless (there, I said it) pursuit of relief. You try driving with a writhing pincushion smashing its slobbery self into your elbow–see if you can recall any care or woe outside the vehicle. It’s effective, is all I am saying. If I could have simply applied the $200 directly to their faces to save the fun of the drive, I surely would have. If I could have arranged to have a brain transplant (installation?) performed as long as they were under anesthesia, you can bet I would have done that, too. But I digress. Just before L’Affaire Porcupine, prior to hitting on that masterful plan to redirect my attention, they punted with a trip to the neighbors’ house to root through the garbage. I am here to report that you should always have rubber gloves handy, and that you can learn a lot when you handle, personally, all the items from two bags of trash that have been spread on a lawn.
People throw away a lot of food, is my point. Eating a lot of trash can keep a dog up at night with thirst and indigestion–that is another point I could make. Any disturbance of my rest by nightmares or the difficulty in finding a comfortable sleep position was thoughtfully circumnavigated by the Rescue Hounds, who moaned and whimpered and panted and so forth at regular enough intervals that all risk of sleeping was removed.
But the throwing away of food–that was where I was going.
I like to avoid that, when I can. I like to make stock from bones and peelings. I like to infuse the stems of things I have cooked the leaves of. And I really, really like it when with almost zero effort, I can turn something I would have previously overlooked into something supremely tasty.
The arrival of the real strawberries here is big news. It comes astonishingly quickly after spring gets underway (I can never understand how a strawberry plant gets organized to leaf out and produce a ripe berry before I have even remembered where the summer hats are stored), overwhelms us with its magnificence, and passes by even more rapidly. It is my fervent hope I’ll get to the PYO field this week before the season is totally over, as we muscle through a lot of frozen strawberries over winter (by which I mean a lot, oh yes, a lot.)
Meantime, I have forked over the cash for these beauties:
and while carving them up for table use, I employed a trick my sister taught me. As you pare and hull, toss the trimmings into a large carafe, pitcher or jar instead of the compost or trash. Fill the pitcher with water, and stow it in the fridge. When it is totally chilled, you will have one of the more refreshing beverages known to humankind. You can sweeten it if you like, but I find that is not required. The satisfaction of the whole straw-into-gold thing is sweet reward enough.
Kind of like the devotion of a loving pal.