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Feasting Florida

Enjoying a sustainable, organic, lifestyle indulging in all Florida's Cuisines throughout the seasons

Waste Not-Want Not

The amount of food wasted is staggering. Efforts have come to lime light to help the average citizen, and student come to grips with the disheartening amount of unwanted food. This has been becoming more and more apparent. Especially after large food holidays where most people are looking for lots of variety, in large portions, with the unfortunate result with lots of leftovers.

As the new year Starts, Resolutons are made and broken easily. But sometimes for resolutions to be successful, you need to live the promise you are making to yourself.

My household is small. Just one, plus a couple of sets of paws. But that doesn't mean there isn't a large amount food produced here. As a Chef, there is always testing, and experimenting. And quite honestly, cooking what you want, because you can.

There not much that goes to waste, in my house, my classroom, or my kitchen. Most weeks I only remove a grocery bag of garbage a week, plus about the same in recyclables. Not much. And nothing's wasted. If you don't believe me, ask my students. This also helps keep my budget in check as well.

The hot topic in the world of Chef-dom is how to control food waste. But how do you do that? And how can this relate to the rest of the world.

To have an efficient and profitable establishment, chefs must learn how to have a smooth running kitchen where portions are controlled, as well as the costs. Lots of research goes into how much should go on to a plate. The satiety of the items, how many components on a plate, how many courses you want to customer to order, the nutritional value of all these items come into play.

Controlling the edible portion of a plate is easy. How do you control the rest? Getting to that gorgeous devious mouth watering food waiting for you to devour takes a process. And one sacrifices of the ingredients. Ingredients must be washed, trimmed, peeled, deboned, portioned seasoned and cooked. If they don't look perfect, or can't match the requirement of the chef, they aren't used.

What happens then?

The modern invention of a freezer has made life very easy. So is the technique of canning, preserving, and putting up. But sometimes all you need are IDEAS of what to do. Most don't take very much time or effort, some take a little.

Here's 40 ways to reduce the amount of food that hits the landfill.

Let's start easy.

(Click the hyper links for more information and ready to use recipes)

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs bought have very finicky requirements with temperature and moisture and can rapidly go bad if not monitored. They are also very expensive in comparison. These essential components of a dish can take your transform your dining experience.

Whether you have a bountiful bush of herbs that is too plentiful, or you have purchased a quantity, greater than what you could use, don't waste them once they have lost their shiny, plump greenness. Withered herbs can be further dried out, or use them in one of these ways:

This is one of my personal standbys. You can utilize varying varieties of herbs including: parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary or marjoram. Even when the herbs are brown and withered, a small amount of parsley will brighten up the mix, if that is important. Plus, the added bonus is when you sift out uneven bits, which I named "crunchies", they can be used to cover large roasts for imbedding flavor. Shelf life: 6 months or longer.

The herbaceous sauce has many different variations when it comes to consistency, and herbs used. This sauce tastes great with grilled meats, vegetables, and even for dipping bread. Batches of the sauce can be made an frozen in small quantities if desired. The bulk of the sauce uses cilantro. However I usually add a small amount of parsley if available to keep it green. Other herbs used in this could include oregano and thyme. Shelf life: several weeks.

3. Herb Butters

Chopping up various herbs and mixing it with other ingredients before mixing it into soft butter extends the life of the herb, especially when the mixed butter is then stored in the freezer. Try herb butter on corn, potatoes, pasta, or simply to jazz up fresh bread.

Try Sweet Corn with Herb Butter that uses tarragon, dill, parsley, basil, chives, and thyme or making your own Loaded Baked Potato Butter full of fresh chives. Pasta can be jazzed up quickly with any type of herb butter, right out your freezer. Shelf life: several months if frozen.

This is great to have on hand to jazz up a dull looking plate of pasta or rice, or for dipping in bread. Use any leafy herb, or strip the leaves off of woody stems. The best is chive oil or basil oil, with a bit of parsley thrown in to keep the color vibrant. Perfect to make when the herbs are not so pretty any more. Shelf life: several months if refrigerated.

Keep summer in life all year long. Pesto is perfect to make when the basil bush as gone to flower and the stems get woody. The yield of the plant is going down, so make a batch to store in the freezer to hold you until the warm summer months again. Besides straight basil, you can mix and match herbs such sage, chervil, tarragon, and parsley. Any soft herb would work! You can also substitute out toasted pine nuts with any other nut. This can be frozen, or put up in a can for a few months. Shelf life: several weeks.

6. Herb Simple Syrup

Steep your herbs in simple syrup- a cooked mixture of equal parts sugar and water. These can be kept on hand to add to cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, or club soda. This works well with basil, and mint. Shelf life: several months if refrigerated.

Here is a demo on how to use herbs year round in your kitchen.

When Good Milk Goes Bad

It's happened to us all. You're expecting a nice sweet glass of cold milk, and what you get is a mouthful of unpleasantness. There are many factors that influence the longevity of dairy milk including time, light, and temperature. Do you know what the date on the milk carton means?That is the SELLBY date, not the expiration date. It is derived by adding 2 weeks to the date the milk was pasteurized. It DOES NOT mean it goes bad then. Controlling the aforementioned factors can allow the milk to have a long healthy life, still about another 1 to 2 weeks after the sell by date. But when milk spoils, or sours don't throw it out.

1. Sour milk can be substituted in any items that will be baked or cooked that calls for buttermilk. The thickness is not quite the same, but it works well in quick breads, biscuits, and rolls. You can even use it for marinating such as Fried Chicken.

If you can't used the milk right away, freeze 1/2 cup or so portions in small containers or half-sized resealable bags. Then you will always have some on hand.

Easy to make, and then frozen if needed. Ricotta means "recooked". A small amount of cream (or half and half) is used to add richness, but can be left out. Use as you would store bought ricotta. Easily frozen for later.

The Bread of Life

Bread, especially in the humid climate of Florida, doesn't always has a long shelf life- until you are purchasing it, and then it is full of anti-staling preservatives. When your bread goes stale,

don't immediately throw it out. This stale bread can still be used for lots of things now- or saved for later. (However, I recommend cutting it before you just throw it out ).

1. Cut croutons (cubed) or crostini (thin slices). Bake now, or freeze and bake later. Great mixing and matching types of bread.

2. Breadcrumbs. Finish letting your bread dry out completely, then crushing into crumbs. You can then pulverize in a food processor, or place in a resealable bag and pound with a meat mallet, or bottom of a heavy sauté pan.

Bake and freeze this treat, or just gather all your dry ingredients and freeze those until you have time to make it. You can make it sweet or savory.

Similar to bread pudding, this can be prepped in advanced and frozen. Mixing and matching bread is always a good idea.

If your bread is small, or chunky, French Toast may not be an option. Add your ingredients and bake it like bread pudding. Now you can easily add fruits and nuts as well.

6. Why not just simple make garlic bread in advanced? Yes your bread is a little dry, but slather it with soft garlic butter, and maybe some chopped herbs and parmesan- and just freeze tightly wrapped. The moisture from freezing and the butter will help freshen up your bread when toasted off again.

When the Garden is too Bountiful

(or your eyes are bigger than your stomach)

What to do when you have too much produce?

What you do with left overs?

How about as you trim and peel your product?

Creativity is the key.

Composting is also an answer, but theres always options before that .

Yes I know, there are somethings you just can't eat. Some components of plants you can't eat. Sometimes too much product is overwhelming.

It's hard for me to imagine people just throwing out fruits and vegetables- because I just love them so much. But even when I receive bountiful gifts from my farmers, I feel a little overwhelmed with what to do with it all.

Let's look at ways to combat what is thrown out.