Monday, November 28, 2011

More with less.

There's a mantra for you. One that I have been contending with for several years now. During that time, though it has become cliche, it has also come to define how I'm forced to operate.

Right down to left-overs.

Starting my own personal chef service hasn't come easy- especially from a financial standpoint. Taking the time off to devote all of my focus to my passions has been invigorating, but financially risky. Mark and I are planners and all of this didn't come without lots of open-hearted conversation, but the fact of the matter is I'm not making the money I used to. It is what it is. Grocery shopping is always a fun adventure for me. It's a hunt for great ingredients. It's research and desire rolled into one. These days I can't indulge in ways I have previously. The meals that I make have to make it a long way. I must say I've done a somewhat decent job of giving meals longevity at our table.

I made a great batch of beef stew a few days ago that had some left-overs in it; vegetables from a batch of sweet pork ribs. Once the stew was mostly gobbled, what was left in the fridge got turned into a sloppy-joe like sandwich. I added fresh cabbage slaw for crunch, some cheddar and red onion for flavor and texture. Man alive, that was a satisfying supper.

Turkey proves to have even more longevity. Soups, casseroles, sandwiches, tacos, omellettes; poultry has what it takes to go the extra mile. Thank goodness we've had such an abundance of it due to the recent holiday.

Caramelized onions go a long way in our house, too. Any bit that's left over after making a flat bread waits for its next incarnation, be it soups and stews or eggs in the morning.

Of course, in order to re-invent your left overs you need to still add to them. A well stocked pantry is the key to this. Rice, flour, sugar, vinegars, salts and spices, pastas, canned vegetables and beans. Having some healthy and easy to add ingredients at your command makes all the difference. There are also some great publications out there that take all the guess work out of what to do with what's left. Here's a great list, many of them available on the web.

Every Day with Rachel Ray Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge Food Network fanatic, but this woman's revamp of her famous publication made my eyes bug out. Hundreds of recipes in every issue. Literally  Hundreds. If you're always at a loss for what to make, check out this wealth of information. Rach has a great track record for giving you ideas on what to do with all those left overs. May nothing go to waste!

Bon Appetit Magazine Yeah, kind of a no-brainer there. You want to find a classic and satisfying dish? The bon is a go-to in my house. Impressive set-ups for folks who just LOVE to cook (and impress). I'm not sure how well the new editor is doing with keeping up with old statues, but there used to be some great monthly menus available, complete with left-over recipes as well. If you're familiar with this site, good. If not, just take the time to browse. Great site. Wealth of information. Worth bookmarking.

The Flavor Bible This is a link to Amazon, though I know it's available just about everywhere, including (a favorite site of mine for impulsive book buying on the cheap). This book was recommended to me by the executive pastry chef at the Bedford Village Inn. Davide (pronounced Dah-vi-day) swore by it and from a quick review of his work I knew that any endorsement this man would give was well worth paying attention to. I also highly recommend the BVI. I had the privilege of working in their kitchen once and I learned a great deal! A wonderful group of committed staff, a pristine kitchen, a top notch eatery.

That's all for now, folks. I have a ton of work to do. Right now I'm studying for my ServeSafe exam- it isn't mandatory that I complete a ServeSafe course, but I feel it is essential to giving my clients confidence in my operation. After that, more marketing materials to work through and insurance to quote out.

Funny, it seems that while I was working with less I ended up getting so much more than I ever expected.


  1. America's Test Kitchen is another one of my favorites.

  2. Great recommendation, Wendell. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. You have great taste and I love to hear your feedback. Hope you're well! xo