EDF, Down Under
AMA reader Nancy Owens is a Boston native currently living in Canberra, Australia, where she writes about her Australian adventures, food and otherwise at Roving Lemon. She ate down her Down Under fridge last week to file the following report.
I’ve been the person responsible for filling (and emptying) fridges on three continents.
That sounds exotic and adventurous, doesn’t it?
Sometimes it is…. And then there’s the everyday reality: Every one of those fridges seems to have a half-empty bag of carrots perpetually lurking in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. No matter where I’ve lived (first Boston, then Oxford, U.K., and now Canberra), I do the same thing: buy bags of carrots (because they’re cheaper that way than buying individual carrots, and you never know when you might need one), and then take forever to use them up, so that they start to get shriveled and funny-looking and not really appetizing. Then I either force myself to eat them anyway, or else I throw them away and feel guilty afterwards.
Until now. As soon as I heard about the Eating Down the Fridge challenge, I thought of my current, Australian bag of neglected carrots, and a great tip I had read recently on another Canberra blog: that if you put shriveled carrots in ice water for a while, they would rejuvenate—to the point where they would even taste good raw! Here was the perfect opportunity to try it out. So the other day I did, and threw some droopy celery and a wilted scallion in the bowl for good measure.
It worked! All three of them perked up noticeably, and formed the basis for a Thai-flavored stir-fry. I used a recipe from Donna Hay (an Australian cookbook writer) for the basic procedure, and then worked with what I had on hand. The scallion went in first, with an onion from the cupboard and some brown sugar, to sauté in some light olive oil (not very Asian, but what I had). I followed with the carrot and celery, cut into fat matchsticks, and a red pepper that had been hiding under the carrots, chopped to about the same size. I cooked a little longer than a typical stir-fry, to al dente consistency rather than crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, I boiled up some water to cook the remainder of a packet of rice noodles that had been sitting in the cupboard since November; chopped up some chicken left over from dinner last week; dug out the bag of roasted unsalted cashews I bought to cook just these kinds of dishes (and forget to use half the time); picked a few Thai basil leaves from the plant on my balcony (yes, it’s late summer here); and made a quick sauce of equal parts lime juice, soy and fish sauces. Mixed it all together in the hot pan and I had a delicious, colorful, one-dish dinner -- inspired by EDF and limp carrots.
Still stumped on what to whip up from the larder? Stump me today at 1 ET for What's Cooking, Eating Down Fridge Edition. Joining me at the table are guest bloggers Julia Watson and Eddie Gehman Kohan, of Obama Foodorama.
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