When opportunity knocked on the front door of our recently renovated one story house with pool in back…I jumped! We moved out in 30 days. My cooking ability is at a minimum here. My little make-shift food prep area consists of a mini-refrigerator, a griddle, toaster oven, electric tea kettle, slow cooker and microwave that blow the circuit breakers if more than one appliance is used at a time. I hand wash my few dishes in a bar sink. As it’s been awhile since my last conversation on ConvertibleCooking.com, I’m back to play Catch-up. We’ve relocated to another city to set up housekeeping in an 1880’s Craftsman building that has been undergoing renovations for years. It fulfills a dream that will put use to our antiques, my kitchen wares and my favorite cookbooks once it’s completed.
2 Storage units later… no kitchen, no shower, no hot water, no washer or dryer and no second story bathroom and I find it isn’t easy camping among packing boxes. Our move did, however, bring us closer to our daughter’s house where we shower after her bedtime and laundry duties are shared. Relying on my trusty freezer’s help for my future plans before I moved, I packed boxes of kitchen utensils and bake ware while I cooked up and freezer-bagged as many of my pantry items as I could before I left my beautiful and efficient kitchen. Yes, my new arrangement is crude, but it works. One steel shelving unit holds my canned goods and food stuffs as I prep meals and defrost foods on a cutting board, cluttered counter top set up in my husband’s office. Because the Winn Dixie Supermarket is a mere bicycle ride away, I take my break there by choosing interesting new food selections to round out our after-construction meals. Most of the new items I pick are sold prepared, ready for a quick microwave heat-up, grill-up or barbeque. Boiling pasta or rice is difficult now except with pre-thought in my slow Crock pot.
A five dollar deli foot long sandwich requires a slather of mayo for a taste pick up lunch or dinner with pre-frozen soup. A real meal of quick fry-up pork chops or fish filets happens when reduced prices entice me on Mondays or Tuesdays. Buy One/Get One Free items in the aging store flyer offer all types of adventure for the palate as I make up meals with the just going off sale items. The BO/GO offerings yielded the “Last Minute Gourmet” Broccoli and Rice Casserole, claiming “broccoli and white rice in creamy béchamel sauce topped with cheddar cheese” it was featured as an Easter time special. Although it was tasty and contained bits of broccoli, the beautiful picture on the packaging looked nothing like what the oven-ready container held. It was a broccoli infused rice pudding mixture with rice so soft and broccoli bits so small the end product appeared gray. The bright yellow cheddar cheese topping helped but was garnish equivalent to the casserole’s appearance. Although the 40 oz. size was generous, to serve it to company for a Holiday meal would have embarrassed me.
To save it, I steamed up a fresh bag of Green Giant’s mixed broccoli and mini carrots for added color and covered the top with shredded “Four Cheese” Mexican blend from the dairy case before micro- waving it for meal #2. Conversion completed, I divided the remainder into single portions for refreezing in my ever handy Corning ware mini dishes with snap lids. Nothing wasted, everything gained, plus future treats…pure and simple. On a sweeter note, I will RAVE about a discovery that needs no help, no conversion necessary other than the aforementioned freezer. “WINN & LOVETT” -exclusively at Winn Dixie frozen fruit bars”! Wow, a grown-up Popsicle jammed packed with real fruit and pulp! At 100 calories for the strawberry and 140 calories for the creamy smooth and decadent Pina Colada these fruit bars have taken over top spot as our desert favorites this summer. Along with Raspberry, Mango and Caribbean Fruit flavors, those blue boxes jump off the shelf and into my cart at $3.59 for a box of 6 or offered at 2 boxes for $6.00. Do the math, people…at $.50 each with no cooking or baking for satisfying cool treats anytime… Wow, again, as these are good enough to serve to dinner guests. A true believer in the old stand-bys and tried and true recipe favorites I now feel it’s good to mix up one’s routine even if moving to a new place makes one do it. Making discoveries on the grocery isles as I’ve been doing has been interesting and fun. My husband seems content and the store keeps cooking and offering all types of goodies to make my life easier. And I keep in my budget! See, Convertible Cooking can be fun!
So S-L-O-W down, idle through the stores generously stocked isles and relax in the ice cold air conditioning. Your grocer wants to keep you comfortable... Take a mini vacation as you enjoy the scenery of greens and colorful produce with fresh eyes and look for bargains. See what’s contained in different food sections; search to unearth buried treasures and help the store help your wallet by shopping and dining a bit differently this summer. This Convertible Cook says the only Conversion Cooking in your summer fare is to convert your mindset to embrace the opportunity if the ingredients are okay. Study a bit and experiment more, use your trusty freezer so you can map out a different plan to take it easy cooking… your kitchen, if you happen to have one, will stay cool too.
Find these treats at:
lastminutegourmet.com winndixie.com Carol DumasCopyright June 28, 2011