"Dear "Friends" - as some of you might have noticed - I'm doing a weekly cooking blog "GarbageGourmet" (coz it's currently focused on using leftovers in creative and delicious and EASY ways). I'd love if y'all would check out your respective refrigerators and let me know WHAT'S IN THERE RIGHT NOW. I will then endeavor to come up with a viable and delectable recipe. The more detail you can get me on what you have on hand the better - but I'll work with whatever info you send me."
Almost immediately, my good friend Jim Testa replied:
celery, carrots, cooked pinto beans (I cook dry beans in a pressure cooker and keep them for salads and soups), leftover gumbo, leftover chili.
[suggested music: Mighty Sparrow, Volume Two (this is a best-of on Ice Records - most of these songs got re-recorded when Van Dyke Parks produced the incredible Hot & Sweet for Sparrow)
(assuming the carrots were raw; if they're cooked, adjust accordingly) cook carrots (I'd chop in half and steam for 20 minutes, or you could boil em); then cut in quarters lengthwise, then chop into quarter inch bits;
* put 1 TBSP cooking oil in good sized pot (i.e. that you'd make spaghetti in) and put heat on medium;
* dice up celery fine and add; if you've got an onion, chop fine and add (or omit if you ain't got - but add 1 tsp onion powder if ya got that around); saute till vegetables soften ( 4 min.?);
* depending on yr tastes you can add 1 TBSP oregano, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp basil OR 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp red pepper (cayenne is nice, but pepper flakes should do the trick, and 1 tsp hot sauce (whatever ya got) - and saute that all for about 1 min. to unlock flavors (you could also throw in 1 TBSP vodka and let it cook off - that'll unlock spice flavors too);
*add 1 cup rice (white, brown, whatever ya got) and saute that for 2 min.;
*then add either chicken stock, or water and bullion cubes, or a can of consomme (+ water to make 2 or 2 1/2 cups as needed) - if you use white rice use 2 cups liquid and cover and cook dis mess up over low heat for 20 minutes - if you use brown rice use 2 1/2 cups liquid and cook for 45 min.
*When rice is done cooking dump yr beans on top, cover and simmer another 5 minutes. If ya got any leftover meats around - or seitan for that matter - cube it an add with rice. If yr adding seitan, I'd saute it to brown it first.
Obviously I'm assuming y'all have cooking oil and basic spices around.
No pix of this coz it's all in my head!
If anyone else wants to play this game -- tell me what's in yr fridge and I'll give ya a workable and easy recipe.