Sunday, January 13, 2008

Morphing it

Since I'm really trying to be a responsible consumer (and a wise budgeter), it was important to me not to end up throwing the leftovers of the White Bean and Tomato Casserole with Bread Crumb topping into the trash. So, as promised, I did a little work with the remainder, and I'm proud to say we've finished it off. I'm glad I didn't bake the whole casserole with the breadcrumbs, as it would have really limited my options.

Yesterday, I took all of the bean/tomato/garlic/onion mixture, tossed in about 2/3 of a can of chopped green chiles, some cumin, and handful of cilantro, and some salt and pepper, then gave it a few seconds of quality time with my immersion blender. Heated, spread on crispy tostada shells (Trader Joe's corn tortillas spritzed with a little olive oil and baked until crisp), topped with some shredded cheese (any variety would work), and shredded romaine, we had great tostadas with built-in salsa.

Today, I took the remainder of that, threw it in a gratin pan, topped with some cheese, and baked until brown and bubbly. Once it was out of the oven, I scattered it with some chopped tomatoes and sliced green onions, and it made a great bean dip. I didn't have the ingredients on hand, or I would have thrown in a few tablespoons of cream cheese and some chopped jalapeno--fresh or jarred--before baking to really make an over-the-top dip. At any rate, it made good breakfast.

This is what I hope to do more of in the coming year, as it pains me to throw things out. I find that Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is really helping me adjust my thinking to one of adaptability. The thing I really love about his book (in addition to it's exhaustive reference capability and tons of good recipes) is that it virtually oozes flexibility. There are few recipes that aren't followed with several variations. In an effort to live more gently on this planet, we're making lots of changes in our lives. It seems to me that the most basic of these should be to not waste food. And that, at least in our household of two, means learning to do more with leftovers so that they all fuel our bodies instead of the landfill.


It's funny that a choice to eat a vegetarian diet has been quickly followed by other lifestyle changes. We're eliminating bottled water, and using filtered tap water instead to cut down on plastic usage. While we do recycle most of the time, I realize that we would all be better off if plastics weren't making their way into our landfills, where they don't biodegrade, and they eventually leach chemicals into the groundwater.

We're replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs as the incandescents burn out. Right now, our lighting is a little uneven, but I think of my grandchildren living in the world I help create, and it's worth it.

We've gone to biodegradeable laundry and dish soap that does not contain animal-tested ingredients.

And I know that these changes aren't enough, that we're truly leaving too large of a carbon footprint. We will continue to do what we can as we become more knowledgeable, and will continue to love and embrace those who don't. For what, indeed, is the point of saving the world if we hate everyone else in it?


Erika W. said...

Well done with the leftovers! I have also been working on that one, and it feels so much better to use it than toss it.

I have to get this cookbook I think. I've resisted for too long.

And well said about doing more to be more planet friendly- I agree, I feel like we can't do enough to take care of what we have.

Michelle said...

Leftovers are an area we are always struggling with. I guess I should just start halving recipes, but I like having something left for lunches or really tough nights. I'm trying to get better about freezing individual portions, too, but the freezer space just isn't there. I've thought about getting a separate freezer, but I'm not sure that's very Earth-friendly for just the two of us, either! I suppose I'll figure it out. :-)