Sunday, July 2, 2017

Recipe Test: Mushroom not-'Meat'loaf & Kinda Corn Potage

Mushrooms.  A big pound package of sliced mushrooms.  Oh my.  I hadn't meant to go to the grocery yesterday but I was low on margarine, and I needed it for baking.  So, on my way to the Post Office, I decided that I could spend $6.  It was early enough in the day that there might be some good bargains on clearance sale veggies.  Most of what was available were mushrooms and cucumbers.  Oh my again.  Beggars can't be choosers.  So here's what I bought:

Mushrooms, half a dozen cukes, about ten tomatoes, five ears of corn, margarine, white vinegar, and a six-pack of ramen.  And, yes, I went slightly off the rails.  My total came to $7.78.  Over-budget.  Bad me.  I should not have bought the ramen but I haven't purchased any in months--that's my excuse anyway.   

It worries me to buy sliced mushrooms.  I don't like to buy sliced anything because food that is kept whole stays fresher longer.  And I worry about factory cleanliness, too.  But I figured that as long as the mushrooms hadn't gone all slimy, it should be okay, right?  Well, they were just on the verge so they had to be taken care of immediately.  What could I make?  Maybe something like meatloaf?

I hunted around for recipes in my cookbooks and I checked online.  Most of the recipes that I found seemed unnecessarily complicated and all of them called for ingredients that I just did not have, so I decided to fake it relying on my dim memory of actual meatloaf (which I have not made in decades).  Here's what I did:

Saute onions in margarine.  (I did not have fresh onion; I reconstituted dry that someone gave me--not my favorite choice, nor was the marg. but you do what you've gotta do.)  Process the mushrooms until well-chopped.  Add mushrooms to onions and saute until most of the liquid is gone.  Add mushroom mixture to a couple of cups of cooked white rice.  (Hey, again, using what I've got and not what I might have preferred.)  Add about a tablespoon of Twin Tree Gardens Italian Seasoning.  Allow to cool.  Beat two eggs.  Add to the cooled mushroom mixture.  Add one can of tomato paste (again, not my top choice) and blend in well.  Line a loaf pan with foil.  Oil the foil.  Mash in the mushroom mixture.  Cook in a pre-heated 350 oven for about an hour until reasonably set.

Yeah, that's what I did.  But how did it come out?

Well, it wasn't horrible.  It was kinda good.  But it could be improved upon.  For one thing, I entirely forgot to add salt and pepper.  Silly me.  It's easy enough to do that when the stuff is plated, though.  The rice was just okay.  I think this might be better with bread crumbs and maybe a little oatmeal instead.  The tomato paste was just a bit harsh, so something like good old traditional ketchup would have been preferable.  And probably I should have doubled the number of eggs so that it would have cohered better.  Overall it was a good try, and I won't mind the fact that I'll be using it for at least half a dozen meals.  When it cooled sufficiently, I sliced and froze most of it--we'll just have to see how it re-heats later on.  Some things freeze nicely; some don't.  I hope this will be the former.

While I was dealing with the meatloaf, I also cooked the corn.  Although the husks were yellowing and looked rough, closer inspection proved that only one ear was a bit dodgy.  When the ears were cooled, I stripped the kernels from the cobs and prepared a couple of containers for the freezer.  I've invented a great way to do an imitation Corn Potage with leftover frozen corn so that's something I'll look forward to having later.....oh, okay, you wanna know?  It's just a variation on my Lazy Potato Soup.

Pare and cube several medium russet potatoes.  Chop one small onion.  Defrost a cup of frozen corn kernels.  Add all ingredients with about 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat; allow to simmer nicely, stirring every so often, until the potatoes are cooked though and crumbly.  Do Not pour off the liquid.  Puree everything in the pot with a stick blender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  And there you go. 

Lots of carbs but no added fat, so it's one of those "could be worse" deals.  Now, if you wanna get fancy (and sometimes fancy is very nice), you could add a little butter or milk or cream when you puree.  Or you could put a dollop of sour cream on top of the soup when you serve it.    But, whatever you do, this is simple and relatively speedy and it uses up items that are generally on hand.  The results are certainly tasty.  This is the kind of stuff I like to have for supper.

So I've still gotta deal with that small mountain of cucumbers.  That's why I bought the vinegar:  gonna make some Quickles.  (My very, very good and very, very simple recipe is in this post:  Garlicky Quickle Pickles--try this; you will love it!)  But there are really too many cukes to make them all into Quicles, so I'll also cook most to freeze.  I've said it before:  yes, you can cook cucumbers, and they freeze nicely when you do.  Just treat them like you would zucchini.  The tomatoes are last on my list and the item I'm least worried about.  They'll keep for several more days in the fridge, so I can use them in lots of ways.  As for that ramen, I'll split the packages into two servings each--that's more sensible and that is one serving size after all.  If you haven't read the label on your ramen packets, do so.

Even though I hadn't planned on shopping, I'm kinda glad I did.  It's fun to come up with a spur-of-the-moment battle plan for dealing with clearance sale veggies. 

Life is good.

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