Recently I’ve been really making an effort to be environmentally and economically aware during the cooking process. It is amazing how much you can waste if you don’t make the extra effort to be thoughtful and organized. And this waste is bad for a number of reasons that I’m sure I don’t need to get in to. And I’m always amazed when I hear from others, that cooking is so expensive, even more so than going out to eat. There are always exceptions but if your living off of these exceptions your probably not eating healthy or with much of a variety. The longer I cook, the less I waste and the more satisfied I am at the end of the meal.
One of my most common purchases when I first started was the store bought stock. Now of course the homemade stuff is exponentially better but it was hard to beat the convenience (although now I realize how easy it is to make a large portion of stock and freeze it to have when I ever I need it). It was so easy to impart flavor into a dish swapping out water with this stock. From cooking rice to making soups I always scoffed at water….
Looking back, how dumb is that. First off, stock (homemade or boxed) is water! Water that has been simmered with the flavors of the meats or vegetables cooking inside. I think my big moment was when I decided to make a mushroom broth one day for a soup. Taking the stems of shitakes and cremini mushrooms, I slowly simmered away until I was left with a punch in the mouth of flavor. I couldn’t believe it. It was so good, so simple, and so not wasteful…
A while back I saw a recipe for a frittata that was made with grits. This always seemed interesting to me, mainly because I love grits, and I love eggs but for whatever reason I never got around to making it. It popped into my head during the day and I was excited to try it out. I was going to make a fresh corn, shitake mushroom, and leek, grits frittata. As I was prepping the meal, I found myself left with a bunch of mushroom stems and the cob from the corn. That mushroom broth crept back into my head and I decided to take one extra step. Rather than cooking the grits in plain water, I used water simmered with the cob and the stems along with a bit of seasoning. This dish was created just like a traditional frittata except the grits were incorporated into the egg and vegetable mixed and then baked in a cast iron pan. The end result was amazing. The texture and flavors of the vegetables were present in the frittata but not as subtle components outshined by the flavors of egg. Rather the infuzed water created a roundness to the flavors that would have been absent or even muddled by water or stock. I topped the frittata with shitake mushroom “french fries” which added just enough crunch to put the dish over the top. And I would love to hear where you can buy a meal like this one for less than three dollars.