Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cleaning Out the Fridge

Yesterday I was going through the fridge trying to decide what to cook for dinner.  I had already taken out some pork chops to grill, but didn't have anything to complement them.  I had a variety of veggies on hand but there was just a little bit of this and that (5 stems of asparagus, one onion, a handful of mushrooms, a quarter head of lettuce, a couple stalks of green onions, half bunch of cilantro, two jalapeno peppers, two cups of blueberries, and leftover blueberry puree).  I needed to go grocery shopping so badly, but didn't have the time, and my hubby was STARVING.  He then said he was craving noodles, so grilled pork chops (I was thinking of making an onion, garlic, mushroom sauce) were out of the question.  

Lucky for me I found two tiny packets of pickled vegetables at the very back of the fridge (something I don't even remember buying that's how far back it was).  I decided to make pickled vegetable with pork noodle soup.  The pickled veggies are not what they sound like.  They are not sour like a cucumber pickle, they are more like cured veggies (I think it's cabbage) since they are salty and a little spicy.  It's called ja choi in Chinese which directly translates to fried vegetable.  I really don't know if they are fried in the preparation though.

I started a pot of water for the Chinese noodles (which I had three opened boxes... I'm starting to realize where my storage shortage is coming from), and another pot heating up chicken stock with a handful of cilantro.  I cubed up the pork chops, marinated it with a little bit of soy sauce, and browned them in a wok and set them aside.  Then I chopped up all the veggies I had in the fridge added a few garlic cloves and stir fried like a crazy woman.  First I put the onions into the wok to caramelize a little, then added the garlic, jalapeno, and mushrooms for a few minutes before stirring in the pork and pickled veggie and finally the asparagus and green onions.  The ingredients are full of flavor so the only seasoning I needed to add was a dash of black pepper.

Now I needed to assemble the dish.  I put a handful of noodles in the bowl, a few pieces of lettuce, some of the stir fry, and topped it off with the soup.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it took me less than 30 minutes, including cleaning the pots, to get it all done.  This dish is also great with rice, or prepared with chicken, beef, or tofu.  It's traditionally only uses onions and the pickled veggies, but it's also tasty with celery and other sturdy vegetables.  It was perfect for cleaning out our fridge.

Now I had to figure out what to do with the left over blueberries that I had gotten for the Father's Day cake.

D doesn't eat blueberries (he'll pick out the blueberries in a blueberry muffin), so I was left to either eat 2 cups all by myself with a side of puree, or find a recipe to incorporate them with what I have at home.  

I found a recipe for blueberry crumb cake in the 2002 Martha Stewart Holiday Baking magazine.  I didn't have enough blueberries, sour cream, or butter, but I substituted the puree for the 1/4 cup shortage of sour cream and half the blueberries in the batter (I saved the rest for the crumb topping).  I used what was left of the butter for the crumb topping which was only about 1 1/3 stick).  I had to bake it for an extra 15 minutes than what was suggested (equaling to 55 minutes).  I couldn't find the exact recipe on Martha's website, but this is a pretty close one Classic Blueberry Crumb Cake.

I know in baking you should never stray from the recipe, which I've learned the hard way more than once.  But as you can see from this and past posts I am sometimes fairly relaxed.  This time around I was lucky.  The cake came out very yummy and not too sweet.  Now I just have to convince D to give it a try and get in some much needed grocery time.

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