I was not born in Portland, but I'm about as 'Portland' as you get. My clothing comes from a thrift shop. I walk (or bike) almost everywhere. I haven't used a
Frugality in Portland is a way of life. Everyone I know mends stuff, fixes things, knits, cans food, dehydrates, etc. For me, frugality is almost unconscious. I use every scrap of meat, veg and/or starch that comes my way.
It's how I show respect for the food and forces that brought it to me.
One of my favorite 'savies' is the gravy and veggies leftover from braises like short ribs or pot roast. Heat up three packages of braise veg, strain, and you have a perfect, hearty meat stock. It makes a KILLER soup.
Today I sing the virtues of another freezer staple. Potato water. I've put it in bread but save it for any soup that needs to be stretched or thickened. When Manfriend Spike* and I made haggis I froze the potato cooking water. If you cook potatoes properly, you won't have much pot water. I had a lot because we cook two or three pounds of spuds for the party.
This morning, I woke up hungry for soup and took mental inventory. I had half a roasted acorn squash, some mushrooms and shallots but no stock. Damn. I thought about making a quick batch of chicken stock until I remembered that I had a quart of potato water in the freezer.
Acorn squash and potato essence** soup
4 cups pot water (pot for POTATO, silly stoner) (it's the water used to boil potatoes)
1/2 roasted acorn squash
1 large shallot, fine dice
5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cream
1/4 cup white cooking wine
2 Tbsp olive oil (divided use)
1 Tbsp butter
Heat pot water. Add roasted squash. Mash with a potato masher.
While the pot water and squash heat, saute shallots in 1 Tbsp olive oil until just soft. Add to pot water and squash. Heat OO and butter. Saute mushrooms until well caramelized. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce au sec (until syrupy). Add to soup. Heat thoroughly, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add cream and adjust seasoning.
I haven't put up a photo of Belmont in ages. Here she is in all her 5-year-old glory.
Always cook like you mean it.
* Spike has a really good food blog. He's an amazing cook -- every bit my equal in the kitchen. He's also a very good writer. His blog is a hoot. Check it out.
** In fine dining, a thin broth becomes an 'essence.'