Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Food and Cooking: Making Lemonade... With Ketchup

The garden beds are re-dug and my fall garlic has been planted.  Two rows of Transylvania garlic, and two rows of Roja garlic.  I have yet to plant my shallots, since I ran out of room.  I have a row up the middle of the garlic bed, but it is hard to reach from either side without trampling the outer rows, so I'm not sure I want to use it for planting.  I may throw some seeds in there that don't require the precise planting that bulbs do, like greens or something.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get another condiment out of the house that had
high-fructose corn syrup in it, our tomato ketchup.  I bought huge cans of organic diced tomatoes, and set out to make several quarts of it.  I had to cut the recipe I was using in half, because my glass top stove will not work well with my larger pots and pans, as they do not have completely flat bottoms, and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin one of the elements by over-heating it trying to use the wrong type pan.  I had to get a new hot-water-bath canner and everything, and it was NOT cheap.  Try and find one for under $50 with no ridges on the bottom, I dare ya.

Anyway, while I managed to halve the recipe just fine, I misread the salt measurement... I saw tablespoons where there should have been teaspoons.  So even though I cut the count in half, I essentially doubled it by using the wrong spoon.  I was ready to cry.

I did not toss it out, however.  With the salt being so far in the foreground, all the other flavors normally found in ketchup... vinegar, cloves, etc.... were virtually undetectable.  So even though I wouldn't dare put this on a hot dog, or dip fries in it (though I may have to try unsalted fries and see how that goes) it will work perfectly where you want to add a little tomato flavor and salt to a dish.

I'm not a big soup person... I don't find them filling enough, so I don't crave them the way I would a sandwich or a pasta dish.  I do appreciate their place in a thrifty kitchen, though, so I make them anyway.  I made a pot of bean soup last night, but instead of adding the diced canned tomatoes the recipe called for, I added a good half cup of my failed ketchup instead and omitted the salt.  It ended up being a delicious pot of soup.  I don't know if it was the ketchup's added complexity of flavor, or the sweetness under all that salt, but it was one of the few bowls of soup I've ever eaten where I wanted to lick the bottom of the bowl and go back for seconds.  I managed to take my lemons and make lemonade, so to speak.

So the next time you have a mistake happen in your kitchen, don't immediately throw it in the trash.  If you make bread dough and your yeast fails, think about baking it anyway and turning it into crumbs or taking the raw dough and using it as a dumpling in soup.  Sure, there are some things you can't recover from, like milk curdling in a sauce... but in such a case, do you have dogs?  Are all the ingredients safe for them?  Then it might not be a total waste.  Look for your opportunity to make lemonade.

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