Hey there folks,

Kaylee here, I'm wondering how you all are doing? 

      I’m writing with some recipes and musing about cooking in this strange time. I know that having empty cupboards and seeing empty store shelves can be really hard for those of us who grew up food insecure or have experienced food insecurity in our lives. Heck, I think it’s hard for everyone, but especially for folks who have experienced scarcity. I’ve been hesitant to post cooking content because I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m making light of a very serious (and potentially triggering) situation. I do, however, believe that there is value in sharing how to use up odds and ends in the kitchen to make delicious, hearty meals. I can only approach this through my framework of growing up poor and food insecure. Cooking resourcefully and making substitutions in recipes  is second nature to me because it grew from necessity. You have to be resourceful, clever, and always thinking ahead to make the most of ingredients. These are skills I honed in my kitchen growing up! ***If you or someone you know needs help accessing food right now, I've linked to resources at the bottom of this email.***

      Right now is the time to get flexible in the kitchen. Start with a recipe you like, and substitute the best you can. When substituting, I like to ask what an ingredient is bringing to a dish- is it spicy? Add something else that is spicy. Is it crunchy? Find something crunchy. Is it integral? If not, leave it out! Along the way, you’ll invent new dishes. As long as you taste as you go, you are unlikely to make something that is completely inedible. If this cooking style is new to you, that’s ok! It takes practice to get more comfortable cooking flexibly. Do what you can to find pleasure in cooking during these times, who knows, you just may come up with something that you will continue to make when quarantine ends.  

     The number one way I ensure that I use ingredients to the best of my ability is through meal planning. Not only does this help with grocery shopping, it can really help you to find meals that share common ingredients. For instance, I will make lentils and rice for dinner one night and purposefully make extra rice. Later in the week, I take all the random veggies in my refrigerator and make fried rice with the leftover, perfectly dried out rice. Another example, when I’m cooking lentil soup, I really like to add tomatoes to it, but sometimes an entire 15 oz can of tomatoes is too much. If I know that I am making pasta with veggies later in the week, I can save half the can to add to that. Meal planning also helps me during the middle of the week when I feel the least culinarily creative- I don’t have to come up with what to cook for dinner, I just follow the plan.   

     The second bit of advice for cooking when times are tight is to stop throwing away vegetable scraps. Everything from carrot peels and tops, onion skins, kale stems, mushroom stems, herb stems, etc are all packed with flavor as well as minerals. Instead of composting them, I turn them into vegetable broth. You can also add meat chunks or bones or whatnot if you eat meat. Just be sure that whatever you’re using is clean (if you use the dirty roots of onions, the broth will be gritty). Homemade broth is not only a very easy way to get the most out of your vegetables, but it also tastes loads better and is far cheaper than store bought broth. I have a gallon bag that I keep in the freezer. I take it out each time I prep vegetables. The clean scraps go in the bag and once it is full, I make broth  - just cover the scraps with cool water, bring to a boil & lower to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour. Let cool, strain, and season to taste. Don’t salt beforehand because it can get too concentrated!

     Once you’ve made your broth, check out some of these scrappy soup recipes. Soup is an incredible medium for using up scraps, feeds a crowd, and somehow tastes better as leftovers.  
Ribollita - Italian vegetable soup with bread
Alton Brown's Lentil Soup
Roasted Carrot Soup
Minestrone Soup
Slow Cooker Lentils and Root Veggie Soup

In the same vein of reimagining kitchen waste products as valuable, I have included a few recipes that use aquafaba - the liquid from a can of chickpeas. You may be relying on canned beans a lot right now for their nutrition and versatility. If you are using cans of chickpeas, save the liquid you drain off which can be used as an egg substitute! I have made mayonnaise with it several times with great success. You can also use it in baking and it freezes very well for later use. I know that the limits on eggs in grocery stores probably has some folks rationing their eggs; if you are one of these people, check out aquafaba, I swear it doesn’t taste bean-y!!


Aquafaba Mayonnaise
Aquafaba Pancakes
Aquafaba Butter!!
Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Lastly, I’m linking a few granola recipes. I’m having some serious sugar cravings now that I can’t get my ~lunch dessert~ from Valentine Dining Hall (oh how I miss the congo bars). Anyway, I’ve been making a lot of granola lately. I’m including one super simple recipe that uses oats, and in case you, like me, have had trouble finding oats in the grocery store recently, the rest of the recipes use alternatives like Matzo, popcorn, and even buckwheat! Granola is perfect for breakfast, lunch, lunch dessert, regular dessert, etc. It’s awesome any time of day and is loaded with fiber and other great things depending on what you add to it. 

Crunchy Buckwheat Granola
Matzo Granola
Popcorn Granola
Simple Granola with Oats
I truly hope you all are doing well. If you or someone you know needs help accessing food, please refer to this interactive map from the Food Bank of Western Ma. It is updated frequently and has a lot of different filters to help you find food distribution local to you. 
Food Bank of Western Ma Food Distribution Map
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Book & Plow Farm · 301 E Hadley Rd · Amherst, MA 01002 · USA

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