Picking up the Pieces


I don’t get last-minute panic about packing or passports or plane tickets before  I travel. I worry more about what might go to waste in the refrigerator while I’m gone–and whether I will have anything to eat when I get back.

So I prepare for another trip… and my food stores include the abundance that I deliriously bought at the farmers’ market, playing the glutton before the harvest wanes. The inventory includes bags of fresh cranberry (borlotti) beans, button mushrooms, some leftover asparagus, plums, red onions, yellow squash, striped tiger tomatoes and a few stray yummies (sweet peppers). No way am I going to lose this.

We Three Points like to play a game–inspired bycreativity but also a little by laziness–of conjuring  dinner from what is in the house: No quick trips to the store allowed. Thanks to a rainy Columbus Day, I had the time to think through my supplies and plan dinner (and leftovers, to be frozen so I don’t starve upon my return!).

Here’s what I came up with:

Braised chicken thighs with green tomatoes, cranberry beans and sherry. The ingredients: chicken, onions, garlic, tart green tomatoes, sherry, apple cider vinegar, cranberry beans (shelled and simmered for 20 minutes with a stalk of celery, half an onion, two bay leaves and a clove of garlic). Brown the chicken on both sides in 3 tablespoons of butter; pull it from the skillet and reserve. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the hot skillet and saute the onions until soft. Parboil the tomatoes to make them easier to peel; chop. Add the chopped tomatoes and browned chicken to the onion mixture in the skillet. Bring to a slow simmer. Add  the drained cooked beans along with a couple tablespoons of sherry. Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes before serving with a sprinkling of apple cider vinegar and some crunchy bread.

Asparagus and mushroom soup. Over medium heat in a medium soup pot, saute three chicken thighs in about three tablespoons of olive oil; brown on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken and chop into small chunks. Reserve. Add one chopped onion and two cloves of chopped garlic to the soup pot and saute until softened. Add half a bunch of chopped asparagus (about 1 1/4/ cups); cook for 7-10 minutes. Stir in 8 ounces of sliced button mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in two tablespoons of flour and stir until the flour is fragrant and a roux forms. Add the chopped chicken and one can of vegetable or chicken broth plus about half a can of water. Stir in 2 teaspoons marjoram and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Sadly I forgot the squash (which would’ve been great in the soup) and the yummies. Those went with home with my dinner guest, along with a care package of chicken and beans–and leftover plum tarte tatin.

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