Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stubbornness found in a bowl of Seven-Minute Frosting

I’ve noticed a strange and frightening trend in myself – I’m learning to stretch the food I have in my pantry. No one panic. Gone are the days when if I had one stick of butter left I
would run uptown before I ran out. Do you know I’ve made one stick last for five days? Butter. Me. Five days. This is something that would have been unheard of when the kids were home because the pantry was always stocked. Since cleaning out the kitchen I’ve learned that buying what we like, enough of it, and not freaking out when said item is gone – makes you become a bit more inventive in the kitchen. It’s become a game of sorts, eating what you have. Also, it saves you a lot of money.

I recently wrote about cooking and the excitement I felt at trying new things and cooking in different ways. Using what I have available is also very new to me – and no, that doesn’t make me a bad person. Before, if I didn’t have two jugs of milk in the fridge it felt very empty. Now I’ve learned to tamp down that growing feeling of nausea when I have one half gallon sitting there in all its glory - fresh milk, enough just for George and I, waiting to be used. I’m using war tactics on myself to become trained in the art of self-sufficiency in the food department. Let’s be honest, we all know that trips to the store are a life-sucking process that drains our wallets and leaves us feeling we don’t really know what we have available to cook with. We think, “Ugh, do I have lasagna noodles? I’ll just pop in to the store and get some anyway.” While there, the black-hole set up of the grocery store makes our carts fill up to capacity. Somewhere, somehow, I’m gaining strength in that department. Last evening I made a white chicken chili that was amazing. I made it with looking in the cupboard and pulling out things on hand.

Maybe I’m being a bit bullish. As I type, I am refusing to buy butter until I need groceries and I am down to half a stick. Anyone that knows me knows that I hoard butter. When I run out you know that life as we know it is slowly winding down and the universe is drawing itself into an implosion. That being said, last evening we were both craving something sweet. I put my thinking cap on and thought about what I could make that didn’t have butter in it. I decided on an old crazy cake recipe from our church cookbook which uses oil as the shortening ingredient. It’s also mixed up in the baking pan so this meant I was winning on that aspect alone. Also, any cake that has vinegar is a winner. Just mark my words. Frosting, though, was the problem. A good buttercream or mocha frosting takes copious amounts of butter, and as well they should, and I make a mean mocha frosting. Suddenly, I remember an old, old recipe for seven minute frosting – which I had never made. Cookbooks, though, are something I like to peruse through so I knew it was a cooked frosting. About seven minutes later, arm aching from holding the hand mixer over the double boiler, I had a delicious frosting that didn’t need butter. Stubbornness, and using what’s on hand, can often net you delicious endings – and money in your pocket