I love shopping for food. I can't help myself. I adore dropping by small local markets to see what's tucked on shelves, stuck in nooks, and buried in crannies. During the summer months I have Farmers' Markets to quench my thirst for interesting and beautiful food. During the lean winter months, I rely on small local markets, supermarkets, specialty markets, and grocery stores to satisfy my inner shopping needs. Gorgeous produce, vegetables, meats, fruit, and grains can be found in the most unassuming places.
This past week, I forced myself to stay away from any and all markets. My pantry, freezer, and refrigerator were overflowing. I may have wanted something, but I certainly didn't need anything. I made it a challenge to cook with what I had on hand.
Typical weeknight meals usually don't allow time for long braises, stews, or homemade pasta. Weeknight meals force me to dig into my imaginary culinary 'bag of tricks'.
The freezer. My beloved freezer. It houses all my stuff I can't bear to part with. It's packed and stocked to its limit. The freezer light can't even cast a glow. Last night, I pulled 1/2 pound of bulk italian sausage from the freezer to thaw. It was nestled between gifted not-for-sale beef liver, chicken hearts with gizzards, and whole grain teff flour. I found 2 small bagged hamburger buns peeking from behind Elmwood Stock Farm chicken wings and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Brittle Ice Cream. There wasn't enough sausage to build a meal around and the hamburger buns were tiny, but I thought a combination of the two might pair nicely for italian sausage sliders. Yeah...sliders. Who doesn't love a good slider? Once the sausage meat completely thawed, I shaped it into two small patties and placed them back into the refrigerator. Easy.
The vegetable bin. Oh, the vegetable bin. The keeper of secrets and black hole of forgotten produce. After rifling through several half-empty plastic bags, I found orange cauliflower, radicchio, broccoli, curly parsley, onions, and lemons. I know me. As I gathered the loot from the vegetable bin, I knew exactly what I was going to do with the vegetables. I'd fry them. All of them. Fritto misto. Perfect.