Eating from the garden and the garbage

At the Starship X Collective, we take turns cooking for each other so that we can eat together every night, and it’s often a goal to creatively use the food we have, rather than going out and buying new things. This keeps costs down, and helps us get through the food we have before it goes bad. One of the biggest challenges, though, is that while we always have food, sometimes what we have doesn’t seem to correspond to any recipe known to man, woman, or otherwise gendered human. For instance, right now, our vegetables include garden turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a slightly limp looking head of bok choi. If a cook was feeling ambitious, they could step right outside and collect some kale, collards, or cabbage, as well. Those things are what the garden has given us–supplemented, of course, by gleanings from JB’s farm. It’s up to the cook to make them edible. 

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It’s great that those things are ultra-local and 100% organic, as well as virtually free, but they definitely present a challenge to anyone who is going to to try and fashion a coherent meal from them. Try for a salad and you might find yourself pining for lettuce. Some of them are better fresh and some better cooked. Stir fry? Maybe. Curry is a popular option, since just about anything can go in a curry, and they’re harder to over-cook than a stir-fry. 

One method that some of us use around here is to try just typing some ingredients into google, adding “vegan recipe”, and seeing if the internet will yield us some ideas for a finished product. I think that might be how Callista found her delicious curry cabbage salad recipe.

Not only do we have about 10 heads of cabbage in our garden right now, but we also find it in the dumpster with some frequency. Cabbage is cheap, ubiquitous, and oftentimes, baffling. There are only so many times a girl can eat cole-slaw, but that number shoots way up when it’s prepared with lemon juice, soy sauce, turmeric, curry, cumin, and just a few sesame seeds. I’ve been jonesing to modify this recipe for the bok choy in the fridge, but I haven’t been in charge of cooking in a while, so I just keep secretly hoping someone else will do it. 

The other place beside the garden, where we get occasional windfalls of food, is the dumpster. The dumpster can be valuable, but unpredictable. The magic of the dumpster is that if we find one head of cauliflower, we probably found ten heads of cauliflower, and so we often end up with a whole slew of a few things in particular. One of my favorite things which often comes from the dumpster is sweet potatoes. There might be a couple of bad potatoes in a bag, and once we throw those out, we might still have 6 or 8 delicious orange tubers. Frank might make us some sweet potato fries with his chili, or if I get to them first, I might make one of my very favorite recipes: sweet potato peanut stew. I wrote the recipe up a couple of years ago for a recipe exchange, so I’ll put it here. If you ever get a windfall of trashcan-yams, this is a great thing to do with them. It’s good eaten over grains; rice, quinoa, bulgar, whatever you’ve got! Without further ado: sweet potato peanut stew! 

couple cloves garlic (the more the bettter)
few inches of ginger (the more the better
fry up in some oil with an onion. throw in a bell pepper if you’ve got it. you can also use random veggies you have lying out and about; zucchini, greens, go buck wild. 
if you have it, and you’re in the mood, also fry up some textured vegetable protein, or fake ground beef. (but not the real stuff! this recipe turns to poison if cows are harmed in the making)

chop up a coupla sweet potatoes (or three or four) and put them in the pan, then cover in water. Bring water to a boil, and let simmer for awhile so the potatoes soften
add a cup (ish) of peanut butter 
add a half a cup (ish) of tomato paste
check the salt level; if you need to add some sorta depends on what type of peanut butter you use. 

That’s all for today, folks. Happy cooking!

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