AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Wasted Food - Revisited DATE: 3/08/2009 04:18:00 AM ----- BODY:

My name is Julia and I’m a recovering food-waster. I’ve been reducing my food- waste for nine months.

This change in behavior was inspired by an article by Jonathan Bloom in the New York Times about wasted food. Before I had my moment of enlightenment, I had a notorious habit of food-shopping without a plan, then devising a plan for my meals which invariably involved ingredients I hadn’t yet purchased, and then shopping a second time. This amounted to a huge pile of wasted food that went into my compost bin. Good for my garden, I suppose, but not good for my wallet. And especially bad as I work towards, “reducing, reusing, and recycling.”

One key success factor in my behavior modifications was utilizing my freezer more. Whenever I had leftovers that I didn’t think I could consume within a few days, I’d pop them in a ziploc bag or Tupperware and into the freezer. But as I discovered the other night, my freezer was PACKED!
I just returned from a few days out of town. Needless to say, the refrigerator was bare. Being tired from my travels, I didn’t want to grocery shop. I knew I had things in the freezer, and after unpacking, I realized I could make a simple, complete meal including green vegetables and protein.

The answer: Fried Rice (and Quinoa) with Edamame.

The quinoa was leftover from the Black Bean Salad (yes, a few quarts of black beans still line the freezer shelves) and the edamame was from…. from…. gosh, I can’t even tell you. And carrots, ginger and garlic lay in the bottom of the refrigerator crisper drawer – still crisp.

I also found some squash puree that will be lunch tomorrow and apple sauce that will be a little snack as soon as I finish this post!

My recipe for fried rice combines the elements of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s recipe with a Balinese twist.

Leftover Fried Rice

1 tbs. peanut or canola oil
2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 cups cooked rice and/or quinoa, cooled
¼ cup shredded white cabbage or carrots
¼ cup chopped tomatoes or edamame
2 tbs. fried shallots

1 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. Chinese Rice Wine
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
½ tbs. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1-2 tbs. srirachi chili sauce (depending on taste)

1. Combine ingredients for the sauce.

2. Heat skillet on high heat. Add 1-2 tbs. oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, but not browned (you may need to add more oil to the pan). Add ½ of the fried shallots, cabbage and tomatoes (or carrots and edamame). Cook for 1 minutes more. Add rice. Break up and stir fry until slightly brown and heated through. Stir in the sauce.

3. Remove rice from pan and put on a serving dish. Garnish rice with remaining fried shallots

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Reeni♥ DATE:3/08/2009 01:49:00 PM I am trying to utilize all of the food I have leftover too and the little odds and ends of vegetables left. This looks delicious! I love edamame! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Elra DATE:3/08/2009 02:19:00 PM Always love fried rice, very versatile and delicious.
elra ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:3/08/2009 05:24:00 PM i try so hard to use "all" of my food, too. it's so easy to throw stuff away, rather than re purpose it, but trying out new uses for old food is a great way to stretch creativity and get new recipes. this was a great post - and the fried rice sounds SOOOOOOOOO good. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener DATE:3/08/2009 09:03:00 PM Julia - First, a big thanks for the seeds of turnips I received yesterday. I know I will enjoy them - I have never grown that cultivar. Did not have time to plant them today (was planting raspberries and peas) but will sow them tomorrow. Thanks again.

And then...hugely different: thanks for the link to that NY article. That is mind boggling - makes me want to cry! I have such a hard time picturing all that wasted food. Yes, we could feed the world if we had better distribution system... I grew up in a family where there was little food wasted (if at all), and I supposed I am blessed to have picked up that mind set. Eat it now, or freeze or dry it (or in my family's case, feed it to the dogs or the chicken). Never ever throw food out! "Left overs" is not a dirty word, and they can be dressed up or transformed anyway (roast chicken into pot pie, sausage onto pizza, pork roast into sandwiches etc).

I am glad you are coming out of the closet and encouraging all of us to eat and food-shop more responsibly. I am taking a similar sort of challenge - going several weeks without food shopping at all: I need to rotate pantry items (i.e eat the old stuff), and empty the freezer for the upcoming year, so there is room to store the half pig, and the fruit & veggies! Kind of fun! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous portuguese flavours DATE:3/09/2009 07:09:00 AM I like to come here and aprecciate your recipes. I'm from Portugal and i've a blog in portuguese but now i have a blog in english in order to demonstrate the portuguese recipes.
Amélia ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Mary DATE:3/09/2009 10:31:00 AM Julia, this is a great post - most informative. The affluence of the last decade fights with the common sense most of us learned in our mothers' kitchens. Another avenue for the thoughtful to visit is wasted energy - i.e. ovens turned on to bake a single meatloaf. With some forethought we could better use our heat sources. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous BIshop22 DATE:3/09/2009 03:49:00 PM I have a hard time using the freezer in the way you suggest. I think there are common sense things that I need to learn that perhaps you could address in another post? Like how to avoid freezer burn, and how to thaw things easily.

I end up having to thaw things in the fridge overnight because I can't thaw them quickly (microwave cooks them, cold water doesn't work quickly enough), and so things in the freezer require planning to use. That's not an insurmountable obstacle, but it means it's harder to use the freezer as temporary storage. (as a result I leave cooked food in the fridge too long, like a week)

Also - love the idea of fried quinoa. Do you think the same thing could be done for couscous? It's a pasta, after all, and one can fry noodles. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/09/2009 05:14:00 PM Reeni -- What's your secret for using up the odds and ends? And thanks for visiting!

Elra -- it really is! Best way to use up left overs and have a delicious meal.

Heather -- Yeah, it does force creativity.

Sylvie -- You're welcome! And as my grandmother used to say, "Use them in good health!"

Amelia -- thanks for visiting my blog.

Mary -- that's an excellent point about the oven. Like avoiding food waste, it requires extra planning.

Bishop22 -- Wrap things in a way that avoids air contact.... that's the best way to avoid freezer burn. It's hard to give a blanket answer for defrosting -- it really depends on what your talking about. I also tend to freeze things in individual portions so I can take out just what I need and it defrosts faster. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger melissa DATE:3/09/2009 06:42:00 PM Great job with the odds and ends (mmmm fried rice) and kudos for attempting to not waste food. I do the same. I got tired of my beautiful produce going bad, so now I approach dinner either day by day or I have a solid 3-4 day plan that uses many of the same herbs/produce for each recipe. Hooray for no waste! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/09/2009 08:13:00 PM Nice save. I know it's so easy to shop planless, I try not to but it happens. This sounds like it was a wonderful dish. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bishop22 DATE:3/09/2009 09:44:00 PM The other dish I use for leftover vegetables is spanish omelet. No reason to do the traditional potatoes, when you can put odds and ends in ... always tastes great. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/10/2009 11:44:00 AM Melissa -- good for you for making a 3 day plan!

noble pig -- we all try so hard to do the right thing... it just doesn't always work that way.

Bishop22 -- good suggestion, thanks! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori DATE:3/11/2009 02:19:00 PM Bravo for you for utilizing what you have! That makes me want to dance and sing. And it makes me want to jump in and eat it too! ----- --------