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Be Creative … and Avoid Waste

The Daily Artisan is about finding ways – even small ways – to be more creative each day, and to live an enriched life because of the value and enjoyment it brings. And when you can do something creative that helps you and also the greater good, then you’re living as a daily artisan.

In recent years, I’ve become more aware of resource management issues, and how each of us plays a role in solving them. An area I’ve been focused on is the wasting of food, and the data is disturbing. I’ve read that up to 40% of the food grown, processed and transported in the United States never will be eaten. And, that approximately 70 billion pounds of food is lost in the United States every year.

This is unacceptable, especially given the increasing number of Americans who go hungry while such large quantities of food are being wasted.

With national and global problems like this, it’s hard to see how we can make a difference, but lots of individuals doing better translates into larger numbers of people doing better and having an impact.

I didn’t always take the time to think this way, but I’m trying to do better at productively using the food I buy. It really is a way of thinking and raising your awareness, and you can make creative dishes that are delicious, healthy, and non-wasteful. Yesterday I cooked something that fits this bill, and wanted to share it with you as an example of something simple that when multiplied, can make a difference.

Reimagined … Reused

For this year’s Thanksgiving, the meal I served included two turkey breasts cooked in the slow cooker. They were enjoyable that day, and also in later days with the leftovers guests took home. On Thanksgiving night, I removed most of the meat from the bones, and froze them with a plan for homemade turkey soup. (Some people call this “turkey carcass soup,” but for the life of me, I cannot cook and serve something with the word “carcass” in its name!)

In addition to freezing the bones, I also froze the removed meat and some of the homemade gravy from the slow cooker pan drippings. Yesterday I put it all together, and it made a delicious turkey soup that’s simple, nutritious, ample, inexpensive, and non-wasteful. If you haven’t cooked this, here are a few tips from making mine.

Getting Things Started

  • One day before cooking, I let the turkey breast bones defrost all day in the refrigerator.
  • The most important tip I have is to do the work on the front end, and you won’t have to deal with skimming fat off your finished soup. Before you do anything, remove all the skin and any fat from the bones. Just by doing this, I didn’t have even a teaspoon of fat that needed to be removed at the end, and this also meant it wasn’t swimming in the soup for hours.
  • In a large pot (the one I used is 7.25 quarts), place the turkey bones, a large onion chopped into quarters, fresh parsley and thyme, salt, peppercorns, turkey gravy, and Everglades Seasoning. (The onion, parsley, thyme, and turkey gravy also were left from Thanksgiving. Use only a small amount of the gravy – it’s there to give flavor.)
  • Cover everything with water, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer, cover, and leave it alone for five hours.

Next Steps

  • Your house will smell amazing all day!
  • After the five hours of simmering is up, carefully remove the two large turkey bones and discard. Remove the cooked onion pieces and hold to the side.
  • Use a fine-mesh strainer to capture the turkey stock. Discard any small bones or other items caught by the strainer. Return the stock to the large pot, and place it back on the heat.
  • At this point, you have a delicious turkey broth and can move to the pot additions of your choosing.

Add-Ins and Final Simmer

  • Slice and cook andouille, or another type of, sausage. This also had been placed in the freezer on Thanksgiving night as left over from making the dressing.
  • Chop two large tomatoes.
  • Add sausage, tomatoes, butterbeans, corn, and reserved onions and turkey to the stock. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
  • Reduce the heat to simmer, and cover the soup on this low heat for two more hours for maximum flavor.

The Final Product

Your patience will be tested all day while the mouth-watering aromas invade your home! The andouille sausage gives just the right amount of heat to the pot as the flavors come together. Serve with crusty bread – it’s delicious!

So, to recap, the following items previously purchased for Thanksgiving were used in the soup: turkey bones, turkey meat, andouille sausage, onion, thyme, parsley, and homemade gravy. And, at 7.25 quarts, the pot made enough for more than 25 servings! Some was given away, some was frozen for the future, and some is still being enjoyed by me!

By creatively using leftover items, food waste was avoided – and what could have been thrown out instead became a hearty soup that’s delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and simple to make – and it will feed people!

What foods do you make that use leftover items and avoid waste? Please comment below!



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