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September 27, 2006

The other day, I just *had* to have some salsa, so I poked around in the fridge and threw in anything even remotely salsa-like and a few things which weren’t. Results were surprisingly…excellent! But then, I’m one of those 15 minute, seat of the pants, wander into the kitchen, wander out with dinner types. :)

What’s the best impromptu meal you’ve ever made, and how did you decide what to put in it? Was it something traditional or a never-to-be-repeated off-the-wall delight? Do your choices while in the creative mood fall into the traditional ingredients only category, or does your mind sample tastes from what’s available and experiment? C’mon, spill the beans… 

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2006 6:28 pm

    As far as I can recall, the best impromptu meal I’ve ever made, wound up being a tagine- an African-style vegetable stew. I threw in spices I’d usually use for a curry, tomatoes, chick peas, sweet potato shunks, and golden raisins. Since I’d added sweet potato, I added some garam masala and mace- ingredients I’d never put in a spicy sauce before. The result was quite fabulous.

    If I have to whip something up on the fly, I tend to just go with whatever is on hand and have fun with it, rather than stick to the purely traditional ingredients.

  2. September 29, 2006 4:28 am

    My best attempts have come from “winging” it! I don’t know what it is, but sometimes, I can just mentally “taste” something, and in it goes. Very rarely I’m off, but usually it’s good, sometimes great. The only problem? Usually I can’t remember exactly what I did.

    One of my best wing-it attempts came from dogsitting at my friend’s house for a weekend, and involved her pantry and my use-it-or-toss-it turkey breast. Serendipity. :)

  3. September 29, 2006 2:39 pm

    “The only problem? Usually I can’t remember exactly what I did.”

    Tell me about it!! :lol:

  4. September 30, 2006 2:06 pm

    I’ve often thrown together a meal out of ‘nothing’, which always impresses the heckity out of Nog.

    But can’t seem to remember any specific thing I’ve come up with at those times. Though I think they usually tend to involve the old standbys like rice or pasta, garlic and onions. There is rarely a shortage of garlic and onions at ‘casa az’. ;)

  5. September 30, 2006 6:42 pm

    A legendary swedish cook book author, Kajsa Warg (1703 – 1769) is supposed to have said “you take what you´ve got” That was later found out to be a lie, but the expression is almost as legendary as Ms Warg herself. If you should find one her cook books at an antique book seller you would have to pay a lot of money

  6. October 1, 2006 4:54 am

    “..legendary swedish cook book author, Kajsa Warg (1703 – 1769)..”

    There’s a cookbook author here in the U.S. named Fanny Farmer, who seems to be of the same sort — very famous cook (or the first person to become famous for cooking, over here, in the early 1800’s). I’ll have to look for info on Mrs. Warg…thanks!

  7. October 6, 2006 5:31 pm

    I remember the Fanny Farmer cookbook … probably owned it at some point when I was about 17 and a vegetarian (though I know the FF book wasn’t for veggies).

    Half the time I don’t know what cookbooks are actually for. I mean, you’ve got some pasta, some other ingredients, bit of olive oil, bit of wine and garlic … problem?

    Kinda like once you’ve learned to make one curry you can then make every other single curry that ever existed.

    It ain’t rocket science…

    I only use cookbooks for baking, which I almost never do, hence I almost never use cookbooks. Sometimes I will check one out for basic ingredients, but then end up doing my own thing with them.

  8. October 7, 2006 7:33 am

    Actually, the part about having everything finish at the same time may as well be rocket science, as some people I know *never* seem to get that part right! ;-)

    I use cookbooks for inspiration, not much more. But I also collect various cookbooks. I have a really good vegetable chowder recipe I got from a WWII cookbook, on how to use your ration tickets. I’ll forward it to you if you want…

  9. October 7, 2006 12:18 pm

    I also collect cookbooks, and use them for inspiration. Especially those for more specialized cuisine. Even though I collect them, though, I also tend to use them mainly for a list of ingredients, and then do more or less my own thing.

    I do follow cookbooks for baking, which I don’t particularly enjoy but wind up doing regularly during weather cool enough to use the oven.

    I enjoy cooking much more. It’s my creative outlet, and it’s therapeutic. Cooking relaxes me and makes me feel good. I’m glad I have someone else to cook for, though- while I like the taste if the stuff I make, eating for me is a bodily function, not a form of entertainment, so I won’t waste all the effort and ingredients on just myself.

    Baking, on the other hand, is not fun. But, I do it now and then because K likes his baked goods. There’s really no room for experimentation in baking. And it makes such an awful mess.

  10. October 7, 2006 12:19 pm

    PS- I would love the vegtable chowder recipe, if you don’t mind? Soup season is approaching quickly.

  11. October 9, 2006 4:56 am

    Your wish is my command, dear visitor! ;-)

    The original cookbook is long gone; a couple of moves ago, my friend lost it. But I can give you this much:

    During WWII, meat was almost impossible to get. Dairy however, was available: milk, butter, even cream. So the USDA made an effort to find recipes for housewives to use their rations. This is one of the successful ones (out of many not so good). My friend makes it with chicken broth and chicken added, but I prefer it this way. I made the vegan version, for a friend — as good as the original!

    Serves 6

    (This recipe is from a 1942 WWII wartime cookbook supplement, included in the Women’s Heritage Cookbook)

    2 C. corn kernels
    2 C. chopped celery
    1/2 C. green pepper strips
    1 onion, chopped
    1 C. tomatoes, chopped (canned or fresh)
    1 tsp. each, salt and pepper
    2 1/2 C. water, chicken or vegetable broth
    *1/4 C. butter
    *2 C. scalded milk
    3 Tblsp. flour
    1/4 tsp. paprika
    1/2 C. pimiento
    1/2 C. grated cheese (omit for non-dairy)
    Place vegetables in pot. Add water, salt and pepper; simmer for 1/2 hr.

    Make white sauce: melt butter, add milk, flour and whisk until smooth. Add to pot with vegetables. Add cheese and stir in, along with paprika, pimiento. Stir over low heat until cheese melts.

    Add chicken broth and diced cooked chicken, for Chicken Vegetable Soup.

    *Non-dairy or vegan version: use 2 C. of creamed corn, thicken with instant mashed potatoes.

    You can play around with the spices, but paprika really does make an important note. And I add a clove or two of garlic, even though the original recipe in the supplement didn’t have it. Enjoy!

  12. laverneandshirley permalink
    November 28, 2006 1:58 am

    I would have to say that I made some chicken with salsa on top and it turned out really good! Brown some chicken breasts, pour over a jar of salsa and top with some shredded cheese. Bake in oven until chicken is done. It was fast!

  13. November 28, 2006 5:04 am

    Wow, that sounds *very* good, particularly on this cold night (for California, anyway)!

    I find that these days, I’m *freezing*, most of the time — and it’s not even January yet. That’s when I really need comfort food. I grew up in Michigan, outside of Detroit, and winters were always made easier with soups and stews. Pain in the butt to make them for one, though.

  14. laverneandshirley permalink
    November 28, 2006 3:38 pm

    Mmmmm….when you say you’re from California, that made me think of California rolls and avocados …. I may have to have sushi for lunch today.


  15. December 8, 2006 10:45 am

    Hey, it’s a whole new look around here … AND a new name! :shock:

    Today we had strips of pork sautéed in olive oil and garlic (could also be chicken), then placed into flour tortillas with some grated cheese and finely sliced onion, then folded over and grilled on each side in a frying pan until the cheese melted; served with pineapple/chili/garlic sauce. Mmmmmmm…

  16. December 8, 2006 9:45 pm

    Here in sunny SoCal, we call that a “carnitas soft taco”, although the sauce would be either a salsa verde or a tomato salsa…and there wouldn’t be any chesse with the pork and onions. Just some chopped cilantro.

    Like those a lot, myself! I’ve almost stopped eating meat, these days. Mostly, I’ve been making various and sundry vegetable soups.

  17. December 9, 2006 5:32 am

    I like using flour tortillas a lot because they are so versatile and not too filling. Yeah, I’ve made the pork/chicken thingys with hot tomato salsa as well but, especially with the pork, the sweet chili sauce goes rather well.

  18. December 10, 2006 3:29 am

    Sweet chili sauce? What’s in it, and do you have a recipe? Sounds intriguing…

  19. December 10, 2006 4:35 am

    It comes in a bottle, so no recipe. It’s actually a springroll sauce (or so it says on the bottle) and the main ingredients are: water 68%, sugar 37%, red chili 16%, turnip 6%, carrot 1.5%, garlic .61%, salt .20% and a couple of E-numbers (though it also says no arificial colours and no preservatives). Made in Thailand.

    If I made it myself I would cut down the sugar and add more chilis. I was surprised to find out there’s turnip in it, though you can see the finely shredded bits of carrot and chili flakes.
    It’s actually quite mild so I add more chili flakes to it.

  20. December 11, 2006 11:47 pm

    that sounds a lot like a chili sauce my MIL turned me on to. It’s called “Tiger Sauce,” and it’s a sweet chili sauce, with a bit of heat. And added chili pepper flakes!

    In fact, I wish I’d remembered I had some of that earlier, when I made some Thai gyoza, from Trader Joe’s.

    I know it’s a long shot, but what was the name of the sauce you used? It might be called the same thing over here.

  21. December 12, 2006 4:01 am

    Maybe not that much of a long shot as it’s imported by Lee’s Food, which I know also imports stuff into the States and Canada. Anyhow it’s called SUREE Chilli Sauce, especially for spring rolls, with SUREE on a little red banner at the top of the label and ORIGINAL at the bottom. Comes in a 12 oz/295 ML bottle. The label here is yellow and red and it has a yellow cap on it. Good luck!

  22. psychocandy permalink
    December 12, 2006 6:59 am

    I’m fairly positive I’ve seen the Suree stuff az uses in a local shop here. Hopefully, that means you’ll be able to find it, too. I’ll keep my eyes peeled at the local Asian markets. Also, while I don’t see it listed at their web site, I order lots of product I have difficulty finding locally here: I’ve posted a link directly to their “sauces and condiments” page.

    Incidentally, the Thai ketchup is to die for.

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