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Cooking Corner

March 12, 2011
Bernice Volkens

Recently I came in the door at 6:00 p.m., and since I wasn't carrying any groceries, I knew it was time to do a little meal magic. It's time for me to once again prove I can produce a delicious dinner even though I hadn't gotten around to actually shopping for anything. It's because I'm pretty good at tossed-together suppers. I can do incredible things with odds and ends I already have on hand in the cupboard or fridge. Since I live on a farm, during the wintertime I keep a few basics on hand in case we get snowed in. I always have a certain amount of canned goods, including tuna and these new prepared meats. For example, if you have a box of pasta, some grated cheese, a can of tomatoes - you will be able to fix a pretty good dish. The same can be done with a little bacon, some eggs and potatoes, canned beans and beef broth. Mixing in some garlic, onion and herbs, you can have the ultimate odds-and-ends dish with style.

Cooking like this does take a little experimenting. Many times I don't have one or another of the ingredients, so I've learned to improvise my way around it. Like no lemon juice - try vinegar. No molasses - try brown sugar. No frankfurters - try sandwich meat. No bacon - try ham. No parsley - skip it. I know so many of you have substituted many times, as I do. I have learned a lot of you readers have a special dish you can fix when you are in a hurry. Some are just better prepared than others. I have a friend who doesn't panic a bit when unexpected guests drop in. For her it isn't a problem. She seems to always have something in her freezer or something in the cupboard she can whip up in a hurry and put a good meal on the table.

All of us should be more frugal with our food. As the dad told the kids in our house, "Little Korean kids are starving and can't get food, so you better eat your green beans." I don't know if that story helped any but even today most of us throw away good food because we kept it too long. It would be a good idea to at least once a week or more decide you are going to use up what is in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. It will prevent waste and save you some money, something we all should be doing.


(This dish is equally

good with left-over

chicken instead of ham)

3 cups water

1 Tablespoon chicken


8-oz. pkg. wide noodles


1 cup frozen mixed


1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 can cream of

mushroom soup.

1 cup shredded cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 cups cooked ham,


1/4 teaspoon pepper

Bring water and bouillon to a boil in a medium stock pot. Stir in noodles; cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mixed vegetables and onion. Cover and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until the noodles are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add soup, cheese and milk; mix well. Stir in ham and pepper; heat through. Serves 6.

"Some things are better the second time around."



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