Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whatever happens to be in the fridge

 My  husband recently had ankle surgery: he's in a cast and can't do any of the house-helpful things he usually does.  This means that I cook and clean up, put the laundry through and fold, pick up the house, do all the grocery shopping, do all the driving for our children on the weekend - bla, bla, bla.  It's a bit relentless and I have come to understand why so many women of the '50's '60's and '70's turned to drugs.

So far I remain narcotic free.  However, I am simply not getting to the the grocery store as often as I usually do.  And we can't afford to order in.  Which means that we are eating through our fridge and pantry -- it also means that I am shopping more carefully and very little is going to waste. Which, considering the banking and housing industry could be a good thing... 

As of today, I haven't been to the grocery store in about 10 days. Last night, all I had in the fridge was: one lb of bacon, one turnip, one small yellow beet, about 5 carrots and a slightly shriveled red onion.  (I was hoping for some small potatoes I'd put in a tin, but they'd grown roots so long and tangled they grossed us all out.) I also had a very small piece of parmesan and not much more than a rind of asiago.  In the pantry was one lone box of spiral pasta.

Around 5pm, my sister called, and as she (and my mother) do so often she asked, "what are you making for dinner."  Roasted root vegetables with bacon and pasta -- which sounded much more exciting to the both of us than what was actually staring at me from the veggie bin.

I cooked it up anyway, and it was delicious.  Smith and the kids, with mouths full, insisted I publish it, and so this blog was born. This is what I plan to do: once a week I will publish my bottom of the pantry/fridge recipe with my husband and children's review.  If you have a recipe you always turn to on the night before you go to the grocery, let me know, I'll publish it here too.  Please let me know if your meal has been adapted from a cookbook or magazine -- not only will that give other cooks good ideas for resources, but I think we have to legally acknowledge where things come from. 

Here's the recipe:
Roasted Root Vegetables with bacon and pasta:

1 lb bacon (or however much you have)***
root vegetables (what ever you have: turnips, carrots, potatoes, beets, rutabagas, parsnips...broccoli and cauliflower would be good too if you have them)
1 onion (red are my preference, but any old onion will do)
1 lb pasta
sea salt to taste (for the pasta water)
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Lay strips of bacon out in a cast iron skillet (or if you don't have it, on a heavy cookie or jelly roll sheet).  Roast in oven for 10-15 min, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. (My skillet is small, so I had to do this in 3 batches). Press cooked bacon between 2 paper towels, then put in warming oven or wrap in foil to keep warm.  Pour off all but a table spoon of bacon fat.  Mix veggies with a bit of olive oil and then toss into pan with bacon fat.  Back it all goes into the oven to roast for 20 min, or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta until it's done the way you like it, adding a bit of sea salt into the water when you dump the pasta in. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot, crumble the bacon, and toss into the pot with the roasted veggies.  Stir around and add as much cheese as tastes good to you.  Grind a bit of pepper and add a touch more salt if you need it.

Serves 4 with nice amount of leftovers for lunch the next day
*** Note: turkey bacon, for non-pork eating friends and Tofu bacon for vegetarians works just as well -- you might need to add a bit more sea salt though. Or, better still, some really briny olives.  I always seem to have some olives suspended in nearly congealed oil in the back of the fridge.  Roasted olives are fabulous.


  1. Sounds good! Of course, bacon fat is luscious and the smell of it in the house can really whet the appetite. I make a Brussels sprout dish at T-day with bacon and apples, and even people who cringe at the thought of Brussels sprouts end up liking it. I bet if you roasted some apples with the veggies, it would also be good. I always end up having some old shriveled apples that get lost in the crisper drawer! And add some thyme leaves, too.

  2. HI Kath, what a great idea this is. I love it. Lucy


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