One of my kitchen talents is to be able to whip up a tasty meal when there is really not that much food in the flat. I hate food waste and also find it immeasurably satisfying to use up multiple small amounts of food. I love cooking and producing several empty tupperwares, packets and jars, the more the better! I do actually dance around the kitchen punching the air and singing “Another One Bites the Dust”.
In reality there always is food in the flat, it is just that there not always immediately inspiring, enticing and delicious food in the flat. One of my projects for the early part of this year was a use-it-all-up-store-cupboard-empty, and I was doing very very well eating up all those near empty packets, jars and bottles, defrosting and consuming the UFOs* from the frosty depths of the freezer (I shove everything into the freezer). Then towards the end of February my friend Helen moved to Washington and sent me home in a taxi with the contents of her kitchen cupboards… (I still have some obscure spirits in my drinks cupboard from when my friend Graham moved to Australia well over 6 years ago.)
*Unidentified Frozen Object.
After some rearranging, decanting and donating I did manage to get most of it into my cupboards, bar a large French supermarket reusable carrier full, which is now nearly empty, but still sitting in the hall outside the kitchen door.
Offerings were meagre – vegetables long past their best – the photo makes them look better than they were, a scant few noodles, half a can of frozen aduki beans, the last dregs of a packet of sweetcorn, a sachet of Amoy glaze – from an event that Michelle had been to where she kindly grabbed me a spare goodie bag. Not much but perfect for a using it up supper, especially the day before you shop, get your vegetable box delivered or go on holiday.
Tips for a Fridge Bottom Use it All Up Veggie Stir Fry
- Start by slowly frying your onion / garlic / celery to get the maximum amount of flavour out of it. Chuck in any fresh chilli you might have too.
- Once the onion is cooked add any frozen vegetables along with left over beans or rice
- Throw in softer vegetables which need a shorter cooking time such as courgettes
- Use a vegetable peeler to cut a sad carrots into ribbons and add at this stage too
- Keep a ginger root in the freezer and grate from frozen or thrown in a teaspoon of very lazy ginger.
- Add the sauce – I had a sachet of the Amoy sticky glaze – I often use a mixture of soy, sweet chilli, mirin, rice vinegar – whichever is nearest the front of the cupboard
- Broccoli stalks are delicious, peel and cut into strips
- Wilted green vegetables like kale, cabbage and spring greens are always improved immeasurably if you pour a kettle of boiling water over them, then add to the stir fry. I drained the noodles over them to save boiling the kettle again
- Next add a squeeze of lemon juice – it lifts the dish hugely – and chopped stems of any fresh herbs (if herbs are frozen add them all now) and any softer greens like spinach.
- Finally top with leafy herbs, a sprinkle of dried seaweed and some seeds if desired.
Serve with both chilli and soy sauce.
I have been cooking my use-it-all-up stir fries in my lovely new Stellar 3000 wok. (The Stellar 3000 does sound like a space ship computer, but not one which would go rogue and try and kill you.) It is solid but not too heavy and has fantastic non stick (my porridge pan, where good non stick is a must is also by Stellar) which means you can neglect your stir fry for a short time and it will neither stick or burn. It also goes in the dishwasher, a must in the Fuss Free household, and also is oven proof to 180C (I actually am not sure what I would cook in a wok that would require it needing to go into the oven, but it is a useful feature – cooking and then baking a pasta bake is a very good suggestion). I know that they say that you only need a cheap wok, but I cannot be doing with all the washing by hand and seasoning every time it is used, so my old cheap wok has gone into a black sack and out with the rubbish (Project use-it-all-up-store-cupboard-empty is a sub section of project declutter and one in one out). Highly recommended – both the wok and declutter that is!
Given the relative frugality of this meal, I am submitting it to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Camilla, where there is a prize from OXO Good Grips to be won.
Many thanks to Stellar for my fab wok and to Amoy for samples.