Happiness is Making Do With What You Have

It is a gray, dreary day.  Neither of us wants to grocery shop in the rain.  Yet, we must eat something.
On the counter we assemble all the fresh food remaining in the house:

  • 1 lb of carrots
  • 3 large yams
  • 4 overripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint of mushrooms
  • 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • 2 apples
  • a large handful of spinach
  • 1 egg

My wife says, “Good Luck!” and leaves the kitchen.  I am alone, and desperate.
It is one of those days when the only option is to actually read the cook book — page through section after section, desperately seeking a solution.  I am paging through the soups and stews section when something catches my eye: dumplings.  I think, “Hmm, we do have flour, and I’ve not had dumplings in years.  I wonder…”
That leads me to study Stews for a few minutes.  Possibilities start to form as I look up yam-compatible spices.  Hmm, again.  I check out the spice rack.  Good.  AND we have a head of garlic and a big chunk of fresh ginger.  Cool.  I go to work.
Peel and chop everything on the counter into bite-size pieces.  Saute six cloves of garlic in butter.  Toss in the chopped fruit and veggies, along with a half-cup of fresh grated ginger, season with 1 tsp Allspice, 1/2 tsp each Nutmeg and Five Spice (an asian spice blend), and a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Just for kicks I chop and toss in about a half cup of dried mango.  Ooh, it really starts to smell wonderful.
I saute the mix, then add just enough chicken stock to cover. Simmer with the cover on for 45 mins.  The aroma draws my wife back in to the kitchen.  “Smells wonderful.  What is it?”  “I’m not really sure, yet” I explain.  She looks doubtful and retreats back to the living room.  She trusts me in the kitchen, but has learned that sometimes it’s better not to know what happened before it ends up on her plate.  I continue.
Carrots and yams are soft yet still a little crisp — perfect.  I whip together a thickener (milk and flour) and mix it in.  Ah, now it looks like stew!  On top of this mix I ladle my dumpling mix, made with my lone egg, flour, cornmeal, milk and some salt/pepper.  Ten more minutes on simmer and, Voila!

Fruit & Veggie Stew
Fruit & Veggie Stew w/ Cornmeal Dumplings
Fruit and Vegetable Stew, I name it.  Thick, sweet, and very hot; a perfect comfort food on a rainy March Sunday dinner.
Of course, I still have to grocery shop, but that’s for another day.
Happiness is making do with what you have!

2 thoughts on “Happiness is Making Do With What You Have”

  1. Ummm . .Can you send me the recipe? That sounds really, really good! Also, it you haven’t read it, take a look at Mark Bitman’s “How to cook everything vegetarian” it’s a fabulous cook book . ..

  2. Um..the recipe is right there. Print out the post and you’ve got it. Substitute according what you’ve got in YOUR house! 🙂
    Oh, I just realized, the dumpling recipe is missing: 1/2c flour, 1/3c cornmeal, 1/2c shredded cheese (I used cheddar), 2Tbl milk, season to taste. Mix with fork just till ingredients stick together. Drop in four or eight parts onto simmering stew, simmer 10-12 mins w/ lid on, till toothpick comes out clean. yum!


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