Monday, February 2, 2009

How I love Mark Bittman.

To try to "use it up," and also to eat healthier and more sustainably, I have been futzing around with Mark Bittman's How to Cook Anything Vegetarian, as well as his Bitten blog on the NYT. He frequently gives techniques and variations, rather than just a straight recipe, which helps me work in various things I need to use up. Today for lunch I made a Bittman pasta ( for lunch that used up the dregs of some gorgonzola, pasta from the cabinet, 3 day old No Knead Bread (cut into cubes and crisped in olive oil, plus a little freeze-dried rosemary (from my sad sad plant that I forgot outside). Pretty tasty and virtuous! (We have managed to completely fill our composter already this winter, so I am making one out of an old Rubbermaid 30+ gallon garbage can (drilled with lots of holes)... Wish me luck!)

Use it Up Kitchen Changes Focus!

Well, well, well. This blog started out focusing on kitchen renovation, and how to use up both the food that was in the kitchen pre-reno, as well as the stuff that was the kitchen! Time flew by, the kitchen got redone, and it seemed like an awfully good time to focus on using up the food in the kitchen so that it doesn't go to waste. Then, one of my favorite bloggers, good ol' Crunchy Chicken, has issued the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I'm in! So... (hopefully) ways to not waste food (and maybe even some pictures of the kitchen post-reno, as well as repurposed cabinetry, etc. will follow!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Very Best Pork Tenderloin Marinade

This is the best marinade I have ever had for pork tenderloin. My Mom got it from her hairdresser several years ago. I've given this recipe to just about everyone who has tried it. Next time I make it I'll post some pictures!

Pork Tenderloin Marinade
1/4 C. olive oil
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. ginger (I've used both fresh and powdered)
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 C. brown sugar
3 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 C. Jack Daniels

Combine all ingredients (I usually do it in a zip top bag), and marinate pork. Try to marinate for several hours; less than 6-8 usually results in not much marinade flavor in the pork. Grill until internal temperature is about 160 degrees (or whatever is appropriate for pork for you!). You can also brown this in an oven safe pan on the stove (if you HAVE one), and then finish it in a 400 degree oven (I use an oven thermometer with a probe, so I am not entirely sure how long it takes in a new, PROPERLY functioning oven (since I haven't had one in some time). Hope you love it too!


Wow, life really got in the way of the blog, and here is is, 9 months later, and we no longer have a kitchen! Pictures to follow! The Use It Up kitchen has been in service for over a month (more pictures to follow), and while we did use up a LOT before we gutted, the recipes to make during the process have been harder to come up with. I have a grill (outside), a Lean Mean Grilling Machine, one burner (takes a LONG time to barely boil water, so cooking pasta is really tough), a toaster, and a microwave (but if you run the microwave with anything else, a breaker will blow! Have been making sandwiches, grilling pork tenderloin (delicious marinade recipe to follow), and chicken marinated in various Trader Joe's salad dressings. We've also been harvesting lots of salad greens from the garden, along with spinach, sugar snap peas, and chives, but not much else. Tomatoes are behind (cool (LOVELY) spring), and barely have planted peppers. I imagine they will start fruiting when the kitchen is done. Please feel free to suggest anything at all healthy to prepare, given our circumstances!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I am trying to decide if I have become obsessed with grilling pizza, or if I will never do it again. This weekend, I made a crust I found on a pretty interesting blog about cooking etc. here: Then, I USED UP a bunch of tomatoes from my Angelic Organics box, a few leeks, and a lot of flour, yeast, olive oil, and garlic that I had in my pantry. So it is sort of a use it up recipe... Just be sure that before you start, you have all your toppings, sauce, etc. ready to go because these brown fast and you've got to top them really quickly! Next time, I'll used some pre-cooked sausage or bacon.

Here's what I did:

First I made dough, basically like this (recipe found here:

Makes 4 individual crusts.

Grilled Pizza Crust
1 tbsp molasses
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Vegetable-oil cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine molasses and yeast with 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water. Stir. Set aside until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add salt and oil and stir. In a separate bowl, mix flours together. Add yeast mixture to flours and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Divide dough into 4 portions. (Freeze any unused dough.) Using hands, roll dough into balls, coat fully with cooking spray and set aside. Prepare a gas grill. Grill should be very hot. Position grilling rack 3 or 4 inches from heat source. Flour a baking sheet. With hands, flatten a ball of dough into an 8-inch circle on baking sheet. Using fingertips, gently lift dough, and set it on the grill. When dough puffs and underside stiffens (about 1 minute for gas or charcoal, several minutes for stovetop grill), flip crust with a spatula; move to the coolest part of the grill.

While the crust was initially browning, I grilled thick tomato slices and leeks, sprayed with olive oil and garlic. Topped the pizzas with Trader Joe's shredded four cheese mix, some with fresh mozz, some with goat cheese, most with fresh basil from the garden. Turned out pretty good!

(They were better when I was sure to roll the dough thinner, and I was more easily able to achieve this with a rolling pin than with my hands).

If you are thinking of giving grilled pizza a try, definitely do it! It's hard to mess up.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sidetracked By Weather

Well, we're back from vacation and I was all excited to post recipes to USE UP all the tomatoes I should be reaping from my CSA box and garden (6-7 plants, including a grape tomato plant, a yellow mini pear, two or three brandywines, and another plant that has some almost plum tomatoes that are a deep purplish-red with green stripes on the shoulders (no idea what it is, and don't think it's what I thought I bought, but I like it!)), but instead we've had wave after wave of heavy rain, wind, and even some tornadoes in Chicago. And as a result, my tomato plants dropped fruit, burst fruit, and generally have stopped all the good things they were doing before we left for vacation. I wanted to post a bruschetta recipe, a simple fresh tomato pasta, and others. I also wanted to ask for your favorite recipes.

Instead, I am using up my CSA boxes (received a fruit box this week, which included several tiny white nectarines, gala apples, yet another type of pluot (pretty tasty, these), tiny, perfect, muscat grapes, red haven peaches (not from Michigan though, what a disappointment!), and some gorgeous red pears (star krimson -- not ripe yet).

If I had all these good tomatoes, one delicious thing I would make is bruschetta. Here's how I do it:

Simple Tomato Bruschetta
Dice 3-4 very ripe tomatoes.
Put them in a bowl with sea salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Add shredded basil.
Add a clove or two of minced garlic.
Add a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Give all a stir.

Toast (the right number of) slices of good bread (we like the harvest boule from Trader Joe's) under the broiler (after spraying with olive oil and rubbing with garlic) until brown; flip and toast other side.

Pile the delicious tomato mixture on toast and eat immediately. Enjoy with a lovely glass of wine. Sigh with joy.

(I would be posting a lovely picture here if only I had a surfeit with which to make this embodiment of summer. Maybe next week...)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Use it Up Vacation

Isn't that how to start a blog? (Set it up and then go on vacation?)

Okay, so this post isn't about finding ways to use up the many (many) things in the pantry for the reno, but it is about using up as much fresh food as possible before vacation. We got our first veggie and fruit boxes from Angelic Organics this week, and they were stuffed the brim with gorgeous yummy produce. ( If you are in the Chicago area, check them out. I've subscribed off and on for about 10 years, and they never disappoint.

Anyway, our box contained at least eight gorgeous ears of corn and a couple of sweet onions, and some fragrant fresh marjoram. I found a delicious risotto recipe online, which I adapted to cut a boat load of fat and to use up what I have, while keeping it incredibly rich and delicious. Here's the revised recipe:

Corn Risotto

7-8 ears fresh corn
2 C. Arborio rice
5 C. chicken stock
1 C. white wine
1 bay leaf
3 T. minced garlic
1 C. onion, diced
Olive oil cooking spray
2 T. butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs, chopped (I used chives and basil, plus about 1 t. fresh marjoram)

Cut the kernels off the corn. Pre-heat pan over medium-high heat (for approximately two to three minutes); when pan is hot, add 1 T. each olive oil and butter. Add the corn kernels, and sauté corn for 2 to 3 minutes; stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Add bay leaf to stock while it simmers (discard bay leaf when stock is gone). Spray large risotto pot liberally with olive oil, add onion and garlic and cover, sweating until translucent.

Add rice and sauté for five to ten minutes (until translucent). Add the white wine (warm it slightly to keep from shocking the rice). Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the wine is absorbed. Add hot chicken stock, one ladle (approximately 1/2 cup) at a time. Stir frequently over medium high heat. Continue to add stock in this manner until all stock is absorbed.

Add corn, 2 T. butter, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

This seriously was some of the best food I have made. I served it with a fresh tomato bruschetta (toasted Trader Joe's harvest boule, mixed garden fresh tomatoes with olive oil, minced onion, garlic, fresh basil, and plenty of salt and pepper). I love the taste of summer!