The Frugal Gourmet
I am going to give you a great idea for a party, courtesy of my friend, Mary Ann, who is an absolute hoot.
We actually met in the most unlikely way. A few years back, a friend of mine on the BBQ Forum suggested that I should form an all-girl competition BBQ team. This woman I had never met in my life chimed in online and said she’d love to join. So I recruited a couple of other ladies I did know and we cooked our first contest in Mobile, Alabama, about six years ago. We are, by the way, the Chicks in Charge.
That’s Mary Ann on the right in the photo. I’m on the left and my friend, Tatty, is in the middle. We had just gotten “called to the stage,” which is what BBQ people say when they win an award. We won third place in a fish-cooking category, which obviously was not BBQ and for which the prize was a bag full of plastic gee-gaws but, as you can see, we were THRILLED nonetheless. The other member of the team, Linda, isn’t in the picture because it was about 37 degrees out and raining and Linda was a wimp and stayed in the car.
So, over the years, Mary Ann and I have become fast friends. Since she lives in the Washington, D.C. area she has to fly to competitions down here, which has brought it’s own set of interesting problems. Like the last time she flew down, she brought BBQ rub and got stopped by security because they thought she was a terrorist or something smuggling poison onto the plane.
O.K, I’m getting to the frugal part and the great idea. But first, I have to tell you that despite the fact that Mary Ann is a very successful computer software designer, she has her cheap side. And it comes out in the weirdest ways. Like Mary Ann is a walker. She walks around her neighborhood constantly. And she must be bored because she starts looking at people’s trash. Yes, she’s a dumpster diver. She called me one day to tell me she’d found a perfectly good cooler in somebody’s garbage. I think she also toted home a grill once. I don’t think the homeowners association is aware of this.
So, here’s the idea. Mary Ann threw a kind of recession dinner the other night that involved only cooking things she’d had in the freezer for six months to a year. Alright, I’m joking about the last part. But she did cook a meal entirely from frozen leftovers and stuff about to go bad in her vegetable bin. I think that’s just brilliant. She sent me the menu today and I just had to share it with you.
Mary Ann’s Eat It if You Got It Dinner
First Course: Kitchen Sink Pasta: Penne pasta with a sauce of roasted yellow grape tomatoes and red bell peppers, Swiss chard, garlic, olive oil, and grated aged Gouda cheese.
Second Course: Leftover contest trimmings and Mollie’s yummy squash casserole: Rib tips roasted with shallot pepper. Two sauces from the back of the cupboard, one Carolina, one jerk; Mollie’s fresh squash, tomato, and onion dish with veggies from the Farmer’s market yesterday.
Third Course: Green Salad right out of the bag with homemade vinaigrette dressing
Fourth Course: Slice your own fresh peaches with lemon sorbet and mint that has flowered!
Wine Tasting: 2004 Pinot Noir from Romania that cost $5 when I bought it two years ago at Total Wine and 2003 Sideways blend named after a movie that came out in 2004. Go figure.